With the shiny new BCS rankings making their auspicious debut this Sunday night, we are once again reminded of the powerful regime that currently has a firm grasp upon college football.
Though the optimist in all of us looks hopefully towards the promise of a mini-playoff for the 2014 season the truth of the matter is, it does nothing to fix this year or the next.
Though change—any change in this case—is good, for 2012 and 2013 we’re still oppressed by the original BCS system that is logically challenged on a level that is unmatched in the history of American sport.
Six weeks deep into the 2012 season things are shaping up for another BCS debacle with undefeated AQ schools dropping like flies and every certainty being flushed down the proverbial toilet.
Gone from the ranks of the unbeaten and the preseason Top 10 are Goliath’s USC, LSU, Oklahoma, Georgia , Florida State, Michigan and yes, Arkansas.
In their place are as varied as a group as you could hope for, No. 3 South Carolina, No. 4 Florida, No. 5 West Virginia, No. 6 Kansas State, No. 7 Notre Dame and No. 8 Ohio State—a team that can’t even play in the postseason.
It’s the type of line up that makes you wish the playoff where this year and not two years off in the hazy future.
No matter how you slice it, this is a group that presents a set of potential outcomes that will only, once again, highlight the inherent weaknesses of a BCS system that refuses to offer a digestible championship meal.
One realistic option is that all the presently undefeated teams hailing from an AQ conference suffer at least one loss.
If you don’t think that this could happen let’s remember that Alabama is still a young team that looked questionable at Ole Miss and has games left against three ranked opponents and then presumably a SEC title to play for.
As for Oregon, they also have three ranked teams and a league championship to tackle and at the end of the day the speedy Ducks best wins this season are over Arizona and Washington; USC and Stanford might present a bigger challenge.
Either South Carolina or Florida will fall when the two meet-up on Oct. 20 and the winner must win out—Clemson and Florida State still loom on the horizon for the two respectively—and then beat the best of the West in the SEC title tilt.
West Virginia must get the ball last in each of its final seven games and K-State must do what they’ve never done in history…win every game on their slate.
Notre Dame has as good as chance as any—and they have the automatic tie-in and don’t have to win a conference championship—but if their No. 68 ranked scoring offense (28.8 points per game) has to outscore any one—Stanford, at Oklahoma, at USCt—hings could be over quickly for the Irish.
And if they all lose, or only one cleans the table completely then you’ve got the potential messy situation of either Rutgers, Cincinnati or Louisville being undefeated from the Big East.
This sets up the questionable argument that a team that played a Big East schedule perfectly has a better claim to play for all the marbles than a squad with one loss from the SEC, Pac-12, Big 12, Big Ten or even ACC.
Then you’ve got the looming issue of what to do if either Louisiana Tech or Ohio University finishes 12-0; sure you wouldn’t “let” these teams in the championship game but do you give them a BCS slot when their schedule can’t even compare with a Big East slate?
Really the entire debacle, and be assured that there will be one, points to the blaring truth that even a mini, teensy tiny play-off system can’t fix, the BCS scheme does not represent an equal playing field.
And this is not only true for the teams that play in non-AQ conferences who have no shot, even if they go undefeated, of anything more than hoping they can “bust” into a BCS bowl game (at the end of the day a meaningless affair) but it’s also true for most of the AQ field.
Yes, it’s true for the Big East who even as a BCS conference can only hope to slip into the championship game by virtue of everyone else dropping a game or two and it’s true for smaller schools from all over the land like Northwestern, Oklahoma State and Arizona State.
These programs would have to play lights out and win every game twice to be considered as a potential championship participant, especially if teams like USC, Texas and Ohio State finish with no losses or even a single loss.
We all know that if Texas, Arizona State, Ohio State and Clemson all went undefeated in the same season it would be the Longhorns vs. the Buckeyes in the title game with the Sun Devils and Tigers relegated to “other” bowls.
And these are bids that Clemson and ASU should be honored to accept, yes they are meaningless, but think about it, they got asked and the truth is their schedules (though bona fide BCS approved) couldn’t be the same as OSU or Texas.
The emergence of a BCS playoff may indeed be concrete evidence that the business of deciding a champion in college football is morphing into a more equitable, logical process but even this small step is an agonizing two seasons away.
And what this means for the athletes, coaches and fans actively participating in the game today is more of the same rhetoric that starts with the release of the first rankings this Sunday night.
It’s the beginning of the end of the 2012 season, and the rhetoric ends the same way each and every year, with an explanation that makes no sense and two teams that will questionably compete for the biggest prize in the land, a national championship.
For those left out in the cold again, and they will be (even after the little playoff kicks-off) it’s a lot like a dilapidated school building that will be demolished and rebuilt in two years.
In either case, the kids who are juniors this year will never see the Promised Land.