Even though the promise of a playoff is alluringly close, the truth is we are still stuck with the current BCS system, a stark reality that means that somebody is about to get screwed.
Indeed, as November fades into December we can look forward not only to answering the lingering questions about which teams will rise to the top of the charts, but we will also find out who will be left out of the BCS and relegated to the “other” bowls.
As it stands, the at-large scheme that fills as much as three of the 10 total BCS slots is about as subjective of a system that you could hope for (or fear) in a championship team sport.
The way the at-large method works is that once the BCS title game is filled with the No. 1 and No. 2 teams and then the remainder of the AQ conference champions are “honored” with bowl bids, any open slots filled by programs that fit certain criteria.
Yes each at-large candidate must be in the Top 14 of the final BCS standings and have a minimum of nine wins, but what makes the design wholly questionable is that the nominees aren’t picked in the order of their respective finish in the final rankings.
To illustrate, in 2011-12 Boise State (11-1) and Kansas State (10-2) finished at No. 7 and No. 8, respectively, in the final BCS rankings but were relegated to the Las Vegas and Cotton Bowls in favor of the selection of No. 11 Virginia Tech (11-2) and No. 13 Michigan (10-2), both of which made it to the BCS Sugar Bowl via at-large bids.
The following slideshow pinpoints the teams that will become the 2012-13 version of Virginia Tech and Michigan (the last two teams to make it to the BCS dance via at-large bids) and then this season's Boise State and K-State (or the teams that will be left out in the cold).
It’s the tale of the screwed and the lucky, and it’s a story that could only be told in the context of the BCS era in modern college football.
It’s important to point out that the 2012-13 BCS picture is somewhat unique due to the lack of an undefeated non-AQ team, meaning that in reality three at-large bids are up for grabs.