I can't say I'm a big fan of the BCS but generally speaking, I think they do a good job with the rules they have in place.
This year, they did not do that. Just to remind everyone who may not know, these are this year's BCS Bowls (via ESPN).
|Rose Bowl||Wisconsin vs. Stanford||Jan. 1, 2013||5 p.m.||ESPN|
|Orange Bowl||Northern Illinois vs. Florida State||Jan. 1, 2013||8:30 p.m.||ESPN|
|Sugar Bowl||Louisville vs. Florida||Jan. 2, 2013||8:30 p.m.||ESPN|
|Fiesta Bowl||Oregon vs. Kansas State||Jan. 3, 2013||8:30 p.m.||ESPN|
|BCS National Championship||Alabama vs. Notre Dame||Jan. 7, 2013||8:30 p.m.||ESPN|
There are a few injustices from this year's matchups that really need to be handled better in the future. One is an actual bad rule that needs to be changed. Another is a change in mindset that can take place within the current rules.
1. Allow the best teams in
This rule is one I'm sure Georgia and Texas A&M fans are familiar with right now, but in case you're not, read what the official BCS website has to say.
No more than two teams from a conference may be selected, regardless of whether they are automatic qualifiers or at-large selections, unless two non-champions from the same conference are ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the final BCS standings.
One day, I'd love to get an explanation for this rule. Also, while we're at it, I wouldn't mind an explanation for this rule (also via the BCS website).
The champion of Conference USA, the Mid-American Conference, the Mountain West Conference, the Sun Belt Conference, or the Western Athletic Conference will earn an automatic berth in a BCS bowl game if either:
A. Such team is ranked in the top 12 of the final BCS Standings, or,
B. Such team is ranked in the top 16 of the final BCS Standings and its ranking in the final BCS Standings is higher than that of a champion of a conference that has an annual automatic berth in one of the BCS bowls.
Those two worked to put Northern Illinois in the BCS. The first one kept Georgia and Texas A&M out, while the second kept Oklahoma out.
So, let's take a look at the resumes of the four teams in question.
- BCS No. 7. Highest ranked BCS team not in a BCS bowl game.
- 11-2 record. SEC East champion.
- 35-7 at No. 10 South Carolina.
- 32-28 vs. No. 2 Alabama (SEC Championship Game, neutral site; BCS National Championship Game team)
Wins over FBS bowl opponents
- 48-3 vs. Vanderbilt
- 17-9 vs. No. 3 Florida (BCS bowl team-neutral site)
- 37-10 vs. Ole Miss
- 42-10 vs. Georgia Tech
Texas A&M Aggies
- BCS No. 9.
- 10-2 record
- 20-17 vs. No. 3 Florida (BCS bowl team)
- 24-19 vs. No. 8 LSU
Wins over FBS bowl opponents
- 48-3 at SMU
- 30-27 at Ole Miss
- 38-13 at Mississippi State
- 29-24 at No. 2 Alabama (BCS National Championship Game team)
- They also had a 59-57 win at Louisiana Tech, who, despite being 9-3, is not going to a bowl. If you're not familiar with the debate, Eric Adelson of Yahoo! Sports explains it with some detail.
- BCS No. 11
- 10-2 record
- 24-19 vs. No. 5 Kansas State (BCS bowl team)
- 30-13 vs. No. 1 Notre Dame (BCS National Championship Game team)
Wins over FBS bowl opponents
- 41-20 at Texas Tech
- 63-21 vs. No. 23 Texas-neutral site
- 35-20 at Iowa State
- 42-34 vs. Baylor
- 50-49 at West Virginia
- 51-48 (OT) vs. Oklahoma State
- 24-17 at TCU
Northern Illinois Huskies
- BCS No. 15
- 12-1 record
- 18-17 vs. Iowa (failed to qualify for a bowl)-neutral site
Wins over FBS bowl opponents
- 55-24 vs. Central Michigan
- 35-23 at Ball State
- 31-24 vs. Toledo
- 44-37 (2OT) vs. No. 25 Kent State (MAC Championship Game-neutral site)
Personally, I would say that Texas A&M has the best resume of that group, but can anyone make a case for Northern Illinois? If they were undefeated, I could. If they had one good loss, I could. But that resume fails to impress.
Who should have Northern Illinois' BCS spot?
Literally every loss that Georgia, Texas A&M and Oklahoma suffered was to a team that's currently in the Top 10. Northern Illinois lost to a team that went 4-8. Georgia and Texas A&M each beat a team headed to the BCS, either on the road or at a neutral site. Texas A&M beat four (really five) teams headed to a bowl, all on the road. Their two losses came at the hands of Top-10 opponents by a combined eight points.
For the record, I am not a fan of the SEC, or Oklahoma. As a fan of college football, I do want to see the best teams in the best games, and that's not happening this year.
I could argue that LSU, South Carolina, Oregon State and Clemson all belong in a BCS bowl over Northern Illinois, but I don't need to, the BCS rankings did it for me. All four of those teams plus the three detailed above are all ranked over Northern Illinois.
Although I don't like any of it, that's not my biggest problem. Northern Illinois is no less worthy of a BCS team than Louisville and Wisconsin are, and they're all covered by the fact that they're champs of automatic qualifier conferences. Northern Illinois is also covered by a rule, and certainly they couldn't change that at the last minute.
I'm also relieved by the fact that the lesser bowl games have good matchups, a few of which involve two teams ranked over Northern Illinois.
LSU will play Clemson in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, while Texas A&M will play Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl. Georgia vs. Nebraska (Capital One Bowl), South Carolina vs. Michigan (Outback Bowl) and Oregon State vs. Texas (Alamo Bowl) should all be pretty good games.
Those games formed good matchups within the rules that were in place. Not all of the BCS games did that.
2. Give us the best matchups with the teams you have
Let's be fair and first take a look at the matchups that are okay.
I have no problem with a Notre Dame vs. Alabama National Championship Game, so we'll scratch those two teams off of the list here.
Wisconsin probably doesn't belong in a BCS game and they wouldn't have been in the B1G Championship Game if Ohio State and Penn State weren't under probation. But you can't punish the Badgers for what happened at those schools, and they did put up 70 on Nebraska in the Championship Game. So, I really don't object to them being there. Also, the B1G and Pac-12 are traditional Rose Bowl opponents and I actually like the Wisconsin vs. Stanford matchup, so no serious objection there.
Oregon and Kansas State should make for a tremendous Fiesta Bowl. These two teams both controlled their destinies to the National Championship Game late in the year. So, no objection to this matchup.
Unfortunately, the three good matchups don't make up for the two abysmal ones that were set up.
- Florida vs. Louisville in the Sugar Bowl
- Florida State vs. Northern Illinois in the Orange Bowl
I would consider it an upset if the Gators and Seminoles didn't win their respective games by at least two touchdowns each.
The worst thing about it is that there was an out that could have created two better matchups and it wasn't taken.
Florida isn't tied into the Sugar Bowl this year, the SEC champion is. The SEC champion is Alabama, who is going to the National Championship Game. We don't need to look far back to find a willingness to break from tradition.
In 2010, Oregon won the Pac-12 (then the Pac-10), but was on its way to the National Championship Game. Traditionally, the Pac-12 champion goes to the Rose Bowl, but when that team is going to the National Championship Game, that tradition can break.
That year TCU played (and beat) Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl, while Stanford, another Pac-12 team, went to another BCS game, the Orange Bowl. The Cardinal would have been a natural plug-in for the Rose Bowl, but that didn't happen.
Now, two years later, the game in question is the Sugar Bowl with Alabama taking the place of Oregon and Florida taking the place of Stanford. Florida's not the SEC champion, so this would have been a great time to break from tradition.
Why not send Florida to the Orange Bowl against Florida State? That would be a pretty good battle of two in-state rivals, playing in Florida.
Don't even try to talk to me about not wanting to see a rematch of a regular-season game, as we did see LSU and Alabama lock horns for the National Championship Game a year ago. Once that precedent was set, that argument lost all weight.
Florida and Florida State also played a very entertaining game, and as someone who's not a fan of either team, I'd say I would love to see that game again.
Take a look at these two matchups and see if they work a little better for you.
- Florida vs. Florida State in the Orange Bowl
- Louisville vs. Northern Illinois in the Sugar Bowl
That may not be the sexiest Sugar Bowl matchup in terms of prestigious programs, but it would be a much more competitive game than what we're going to get.
It's easy to sit back and criticize the BCS for having the Big East as an automatic qualifier, it's just not fair. I know that the conference has been down for a while, but these are long-standing contracts, and remember that the 2001 Miami Hurricanes (who would get my vote as the best BCS-era champ ever) were a part of that same conference. At one point, the Big East belonged.
Ideally, the BCS National Championship Game would match the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the country, and the Rose Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Orange Bowl and Fiesta Bowl would include the 3-10 teams in the country.
Of course, it's not that simple. Rules are in place that guarantee some teams a spot in, and naturally keep other teams out.
What's more important for Bowl games?
As fans, we deserve to see the best games possible within the rules that are in place. The people who match these bowls up might be handcuffed by having to take teams like Louisville or Northern Illinois, but that's not an excuse for giving us weak matchups.
Of course, I would love to be wrong. It would be great if Louisville and Northern Illinois played competitive games vs. Florida and Florida State, respectively. Again, I'm not a fan of either Florida school, so I wouldn't personally be bothered if one or both went down.
But both Florida teams should have a good crowd advantage, as the Florida State fans won't have to leave their home state, and the Sugar Bowl crowds generally favor the SEC team.
Based on what I've seen from all of these teams, the home-field advantage shouldn't matter much. The BCS didn't deliver a good slate of five games, and that's a real shame for fans of college football.