If Rutgers run the table this year, should they be allowed to play in the BCS Championship Game?
This is just another reason to hate the BCS.
Previously, I wrote on the effect of the BCS on rivalries. You can find it at http://bleacherreport.com/articles/221146-can-a-gator-support-a-bulldog-another-reason-to-hate-the-bcs.
I have also written on how the Pac-10 has lost out since joining the BCS, http://bleacherreport.com/articles/213696-get-the-pac-10-out-of-the-bcs.
Now Rutgers fans and Big East fans, I am not discussing you out for any reason except that Rutgers and the Big East demonstrate another great problem with the BCS system.
I like the Rutgers story and hope for all continued success.
Now, let's get to the heart of the matter.
Rutgers plays one of softest out-of-conference (OOC) schedules in the country. I rated it the worst in the Big East here: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/214810-rating-the-out-of-conference-schedules-the-big-east.
I gave Rutgers a D grade for its OOC schedule here: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/226344-report-cards-grading-the-big-6-out-of-conference-schedules/show_full. Looking at it again, I gave Rutgers credit for the game at Maryland, as it would have been a solid F otherwise.
But if Rutgers runs the table this year, they will not only earn a BCS bowl berth, but they will have a very good chance at a BCS title shot.
The only problem for Rutgers is starting out of the gate unranked. However, this should easily be resolved as soon as the ESPN hype machine gets into action.
Rutgers' Schedule: A Cakewalk
Rutgers plays only five road games this year. Of those five games, three are not even worth discussing. The other two, UConn and Maryland, would be much better as basketball games. Both should be down this year and neither is really even an above-average school. That should be five road wins right there for Rutgers.
Rutgers does face some challenges at home this year. Cincy, Pitt, South Florida, and WV all come to play. Now, Cincy will be down, Pitt plays solid defense, South Florida should be better, and WV may never be the same with RichRod gone.
So, again, there is a realistic chance to win these four games, though it will be a bit of a struggle.
The other three games are two FCS schools and a Sun Belt school, so give Rutgers three more wins.
How Rutgers Gets to Pasadena
If Rutgers is the only undefeated BCS school, would they go to play in the BCS title game, even starting the season unranked? It would very likely happen.
Would Rutgers jump over any other undefeated BCS schools? No.
Would Rutgers jump over any one-loss SEC team, such as a Florida, Alabama, or LSU? Not likely.
Would they jump over an undefeated TCU, Boise, Utah, BYU, East Carolina, Houston, Southern Miss, or Tulsa?
Most likely. And that is the real problem.
A Closer Look at the Big East
The Big East received its BCS Automatic Qualifier (AQ) status based upon one team, Miami. The Big East did not even have football until it secured the top program in the nation. Miami was clearly not a natural fit, being at the other end of the East Coast, but it brought with it instant credibility.
Add to that several other top, formerly independent football programs such as BC, VaTech, Pitt, and Syracuse, and the Big East was instantly a good conference.
The Great Raid by the ACC should have sent the Big East back to the mid-majors. Instead, the Big East brought in three CUSA teams and the BCS allowed Louisville's records (as well as those of the departing schools) to count for BCS qualification.
Simply put, the BCS changed the rules mid-stream to help the Big East.
Why? TV, money, ESPN and power all seem like legitimate reasons.
So, we now have a BCS conference with two programs that began FBS football within the last 13 years (South Florida and UConn), two current doormats though formerly good (Louisville and Syracuse), two former doormats that are now above average (Rutgers and Cincy), and two pretty good schools with decent success over the long term (West Virginia and Pitt).
No other BCS conference even compares to the low level of the Big East in areas such as tradition, records, and bowls. And no, the Big East should not count BCS bowls by teams now in the ACC.
Rutgers Has Tradition?
In the history of the AP Poll, Rutgers has been ranked in only five seasons. They have never finished in the final top 10.
Rutgers went to one bowl game before ACC's Great Raid, the 1978 Garden State Bowl. This was a home-grown, low-level bowl that died after four seasons as Rutgers only qualified one time.
Yet, in 2006, an undefeated Rutgers would have played in the BCS Championship Game.
Rutgers Should Not Get a BCS Championship Game Berth Over an Undefeated Non-AQ School.
Rutgers has not had a single team on its schedule in the preseason USAToday Coaches' Poll.
BYU has four: Oklahoma, Florida State, TCU, and Utah.
Now if BYU runs the table, they will get a BCS nod, but would they get the same chance as Rutgers for chance for BCS title game? I would hope that they would have a better chance, but who knows.
Boise State has three undefeated regular seasons in last five years, but only one BCS bowl berth and no title games berth. Would Boise get the nod over Rutgers? It's not likely that they would.
What is true of Rutgers is even more true of teams like Cincinnati, South Florida, and UConn.
Cincy "earned" a BCS bowl berth after a pretty average season, getting dominated by the Hokies as a reward.
South Florida was on track for the BCS title game in 2007, rising to No. 2 in the nation, before falling apart in a three-game collapse. Yet, the Bulls, two seasons removed from CUSA like Cincy and Louisville (and TCU), would have been in the BCS title game if they had kept winning.
A system which rewards teams not for performance or tradition, but for recent changes in conference affiliations is wrong.
This is just another reason to hate the BCS.