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Who's Eating at the Kid's Table at the BCS Family Gathering?


Pass the Orange Bowl, please...

Boy, it sucks to no longer be relevant in the college football world. We're reduced to fighting for our lives for a bowl appearance and to playing spoiler for two probable BSC-bound teams--actually, the 11th and 12th holes of our schedule that make up Auburn's (not Augusta's) famed Amen Corner. Normally, that's a tall order in itself, but playing the roll of speedbump is something we don't normally relish. We prefer to call it playing for pride. But to add a little more damper on our season, we might soon be invoked as the poster child again for BCS reform as a few teams are poised to be left out of the BCS picture and perhaps left out of the championship game. "Getting Auburned" is slowly making itself back into the CFB lexicon again, four years removed from the scene of the crime. True, none of them will be an undefeated SEC team, but they might be left out in the cold nonetheless.

Curiously, half of the teams ranked in the Top 10 of the third BCS poll still control their own destiny. Granted, ALL of them should own that possibility this late in the season, but again, all conferences are not created equal, and certainly not all teams. The Big 12 is certainly getting mad props for being the strongest conference thus far, but unlike the SEC, most of their top teams have yet to play each other. Still, their conference has four teams in the BCS top 10, although Oklahoma and OK State need a little help to push further up the ladder, Texas and Texas Tech still control their own destinies. Strangely, all four teams come from the south division. Talk about being unbalanced and eating your own.

The one thing that both conferences share is that they both have a conference championship game to play at the end, and there lies all the difference. We'll know who'll have the inside track to represent the east in Atlanta after this weekend in Jacksonville with the World's Largest Outdoor Game Where you Can't Mention Alcohol Anymore... The west's leader will be determined in two weeks down on the Bayou. Looks like the Gumps may hold the inside track regardless, unless we retain our lifelong winning streak in Tuscaloosa or they get Croomed for the third straight year...

So with those two conferences sorting themselves out, who does that leave? Utah and Boise State are 10th and 11th, the highest ranked teams from non-BCS conferences, who will ultimately be whittled down to one, if one at all. Yea, I'm all for giving them a shot, but please, don't try to compare their conference schedules to the big boys. They should be hanging a hundred on everyone to even get the thought of a nod. When they sneak into a BCS Bowl, their season is just one game--that's all the have to get up for. And with a 50-50 shot, occasionally they can catch the likes of an Oklahoma napping. Not so with Georgia and last year's Cinderella, Hawaii Twelve-O.

Okay, now that we covered the BCS' attempt at affirmative action with the non-automatic qualifying teams, where does that leave us? Oh yea. Representatives of the two dinosaurs of the BCS club, the Pac-10 and the Big 10(11), Penn State and USC. Say what you will about Goliath USC dropping occasional games to Pac-10 Davids on their way to Miami, or Penn State only gradually emerging as the top dog in a dogged-out Big 10(11). Allow me to tell you why they're irrelevant and exposed for all of CFB to see: they refuse to modernize by expanding into a divisional format like the Big 12, ACC, and SEC has. The word is out. They have an inferior product. They don't have to absorb that extra layer of competition that virtually insures that your champion is MNC potential. They're holding back the rest of CFB and impeding a playoff and this year might finally be the year they're held accountable for it. Both of their dominant teams may be left on the outside looking in.

Even if they run the table, I believe that a 12-0 Penn State and a 11-1 USC will not be in the BCS championship game, not together, nor either or. This is the year where the outright dominance of the Big 12 and SEC will ensure their champions play for the crystal football even if either or both have one loss. The computers will pick up on the level of competition that their teams will have to go through during the season and will reward them appropriately. Couple that with the fact that the Pac 10 and Big 10(11) are miserably weak this year and I think we get a perfect storm of factors that will finally show the rest of the country the light as to what constitutes the new acceptable level of achievement and competition in CFB. Many have seen this coming, too. The most quoted stat in the blogosphere this last week is that on four occasions in their history, an undefeated Joe Paterno Penn State team has been denied a share of the national championship, in 1968, 1969, 1973, and 1994. Talk about foreshadowing. Edgar Allen Poe had nothing on CFB bloggers...

So who's going to meet in Miami? Sorry, I'm not a prognosticator. My picks are usually uglier than a Brandon Cox bootleg, and my reasoning is as long and flawed as Nick Saban's resume'. But I think I know who will be left out and the reasons behind it. Granted, it's going to be hard to overcome the sexiness of a resurgent USC, and really hard to deny JoPa number one on his Bucket List, but I'm hoping what's left of the human polls will author the writing on the wall that if your conference isn't playing a CCG, then you might not get an RSVP from the keepers of the crystal football.