It's official: The 8-5 Wisconsin Badgers, 4-4 in the Big Ten, are going to the Rose Bowl—leaving us all to ask: How did this happen? If the system is working, how can a team that went .500 in the conference win a conference championship?
The BCS might need to rethink the way they do business to avoid this happening again, and it almost happened repeatedly yesterday.
Georgia Tech entered the ACC championship at 6-6 and nearly walked out with a win and a BCS appearance. Nobody wanted to see the .500 Yellow Jackets in a BCS game, yet they were just six points away.
Likewise, a Texas team that was blown out by Big 12 superiors Oklahoma and lost to now unranked West Virginia and TCU, had a chance to represent the Big 12 in a BCS bowl.
None of these teams are double-digit win teams, yet all three had a chance to go to a BCS game. The system is broken, and Wisconsin proved it.
To be fair, there were circumstances that prevented a just result in the Big Ten. Ohio State and Penn State—the two best teams in the Leaders Division of the Big Ten—were ineligible for the championship game. That left four teams to fight for the spot in the Big Ten championship game, of which just Wisconsin finished above .500.
On the other side in the Legends Division were three teams—Nebraska, Michigan and Wisconsin—with better records, both conference and overall, than Wisconsin.
As we know in college football, anything can happen. An elite Florida State team almost lost to a middling Georgia Tech in the ACC championship, and the Pac-12 championship almost saw a UCLA team, once blown out by Stanford, within three points of a conference championship.
In conferences without these games, the best team always wins.
In 2010, the last year before the Big Ten's realignment, the 12-1 Ohio State Buckeyes—7-1 in conference play—were conference champs. Since then, the Badgers have been repeat champions despite two conference losses in 2011 and four in 2012.
These conference games are capable of producing great football when done right. The SEC championship game is always entertaining, and Saturday's matchup between Alabama and Georgia was no exception.
When the conference divisions are not done with care, however, we get teams like Wisconsin and Georgia Tech contending for a BCS bowl berth.
That Wisconsin won doesn't matter. A team that went 4-4 in conference play should not be in a BCS game. Any system that lets that happen is broken.