It's been less than 24 hours as of the writing of this thread that the final BCS results have been announced and I'm already sick of hearing about the LSU-Alabama rematch. Such are the sour grapes of wrath for BCS has-beens like Auburn. For good measure and seemingly out of spite, the BCS computers have decided to stick it to us one last time by ranking us 25th. Along with Texas, we're the only 5-loss team in the poll, but we may be the only team in history to have lost to five teams ranked in the top 16 of the final BCS poll and still be ranked ourselves. Nothing to really take pride in though if you ask me--just saying.
With LSU, no one can doubt they're about as deserving as it gets. With Alabama, as much as it pains an Auburn fan to say it, the BCS numbers fell their way. I'll let others argue the merits both ways for the Tide and Oklahoma State, but in the BCS's narrow-focused goal of pairing one and two for all the marbles, it has painfully succeeded once again. In seasons like last year when the top two are pretty clear cut, few question the system. When the counts gets razor-thin and deserving teams get left out, the alarm bells go clamoring. I wonder who'll be the first to introduce legislation or investigation into Congress next year?
Arguably no greater year in the BCS era produced more grief and blow-backthan the 2004 season, when Auburn was left out of the CG in spite for having played a superior schedule to both USC and Oklahoma. I've always said that slight has continued to pay dividends for the conference, assisting Florida in 2006 and LSUin 2007 to ascend to the title game, and the momentum created by an unprecedented five straight national titles for the conference makes our champion a virtual lock for the chance these days. Now chalk it up to six, with no way to lose in January, and you've got to be wondering now if the rest of CFB is finally just sick of the SEC.
As far as convincing folks of the results, if you're staring at simple numbers and ratios, it would make the BCS conclusion more palatable and credible to the average fan if you totally took out the human element. But these formulas DO incorporate human polls in addition to the computer factors, and most people are going to look at the results this year and think that the fix is in. The reason they will is because the BCS rankings don't take into account factors like the rational human mind does--the one that's been conditioned by decades of precedent. Traditional fans still think that losing late, losing to rivals and failing to win your conference crown are negative events that virtually automatically negate a real chance at a MNC. In the BCS formulas, everything is crunched down to strength of schedule and wins and losses, which on the surface sound fair, but somehow in the end manages to filter out a lot of the traditionalism of the game.
Some claimed that LSUwas so highly ranked in the poll that they could have lost to Georgia and still have played for it all. We've seen that happen before--in 2003, with Oklahoma. That's contrary to everything a traditional fan was brought up believing. Alabama lost one high-point value game but failed to win their conference. In the old days, Alabama would have been eliminated from the national title game (but probably would have added it to their media guide just the same). These days, they get a rematch because the numbers say so. Is that fair? According to the system at hand, yes it is. But I think enough people in the sport are going to moan a collective, "Hell NO", and the math ain't gonna matter as much. Couple that along with an existing strong undercurrent of SEC enmity and I think that a push for big change is on the way.
Last week I joked with friends that having two SEC schools in the BCS CG would produce enough resentment as to result in a FBS playoff being ironed out by late January. Actually, the BCSis under contract until after the 2013 season, so we couldn't implement a playoff next year if we wanted. Prior to 2010 with Auburn winning it, I've gone on record to the strategic advantages of having a rival team win the BCS, even if the tactical consequences suck. I'm still sticking with that sentiment, but I think the practical fallout from one conference fielding two teams this season will result in the SEC having worn their welcome at the national title game trough out and see the backlash push attempts at some new rules passed in the current BCS's waning days to prevent one conference from running the table in such a fashion again. These might be short-lived since a playoff is trending beyond the 2013 horizon, but stopgap measures wouldn't be unheard of in a BCS Hail Mary. Here are a few ideas.
A strict limit of one team PERIOD in the title game. This would be the most bold move, something you'd think would originate out of Utah. If you ever wondered about anti-trust investigation intruding upon our sport, my money would be on a rule like this. Most of you think the BCS limits the number of teams a conference can put into BCS games at two. You're wrong. If the top one and two teams are in your conference BUT neither is the conference champion, those two will play in the BCS CG while your champ plays in their historic regional bowl. Never, you say? This scenario could have possibly happened this year if Georgia would have won on Saturday.
No rematches. Traditionally, it seems highly improbable that rematches could occur, with most historic rivalries that would usually affect the BCS tremendously being played late in the season, but current BCS formulas suggest otherwise. In the 2006 season, there was strong sentiment for Ohio State and Michigan to lace it up once again the very next game. In years past we've seen rematching between a number one and another highly ranked previous opponent, like Florida-FSU in 1996, but never between one and two. Until now.
Only conference champions, please. Seems like the most probable way to equitably delegate the two seats at the BCS CG. Besides, any eventual playoff will almost certainly include conference champions at it's core, so it's not hard to wrap your head around. I'm pretty sure this would already be black letter law if it weren't for conference-less Notre Dame still clinging on out there. Thanks, ND.
Drastic reworking of the BCS formulas. While most people can understand incorporating strength of schedule and eliminating margin of victory as data points in the BCS ratios, can they be crafted further to penalize late losses, ones to your rivals or failure to win your state or conference? 130 years of precedent is hard to ignore, even in a math problem. The numbers seemingly dehumanize some of common sense we once enjoyed. Teams that lose early can play their way back in. Aren't we supposed to have the most significant regular season of any sport? I know it's a time-tested struggle. The tug of war between objective numbers and the emotions of human voters should always give a slight edge to the flawed humans. Can't we rework that for the umpteenth time?
I'm already hearing major grumblings out there. The nouveau elite and the historic powers are all upset at the balance of power in CFB. What kind of damage could T. Boone Pickens and his checkbook bring? We've built a powerful brand in the SEC over the past few years and I'm not suggesting relinquishing it without a fight. There's no way we're going to let them knock us from the top except for on the field. But you know the old adage: if you can't beat them, arrange to have them beaten.