Is It Time to Give the Little Guys a Chance at a National Championship?

Bryan FlynnAnalyst IOctober 20, 2009

BOISE, ID - SEPTEMBER 3: Quarterback Kellen Moore #11 of the Boise State Broncos gets off a pass under the rush of Zac Clark #99 and Terrance Montgomery #59 of the Oregon Ducks in the fourth quarter of the game on September 3, 2009 at Bronco Stadium in Boise, Idaho. Boise State won the game 19-8. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)

There are 120 FBS teams in college football. Of the 120 schools only 66 schools start the season with a realistic chance to play in a BCS game.

The 66 schools are all members of the 6 BCS conferences. Looking at those numbers closer, it could be fair to say only 15 teams really has a chance to play for a national championship.

Does college football past hurt its future? Should every team have a chance at a national championship?

These are only a few questions that should be answered before this season ends and before the title game is set.



Should every team in college football have a chance to win a championship?

As stated above only 15 teams each year have a realistic shot at a national championship. Out of 120 schools these 15 teams get extra credit for a number of reasons each season.

In the SEC these schools are Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, LSU and Georgia. The ACC has only two schools Virginia Tech and Miami.

Only USC has a shot in the Pac-10 but UCLA, Washington and California could get in to the conversation at some point. The Big Ten has Ohio State, Penn State, and Michigan and Notre Dame is the only independent who can win a championship.

The Big-12 features Oklahoma, Texas, and Nebraska. The Big East so far does not even have a team that would be allowed to play for a title; West Virginia is the closest. These schools have all won championships or played for one in the last 29 years.

Over that time only 4 teams not in the list above have won a national championship. Clemson, BYU, Georgia Tech and Colorado were all able to overcome the odds and won a title.

Since 1990 when Colorado and Georgia Tech spilt a national title has a team from outside this select group won a title. During that time 6 teams have gone undefeated and not won a title.

Auburn has done it twice albeit the 1993 team was under sanctions by the NCAA and unable to play for a title.  The 2004 Auburn team was not in trouble with the NCAA and was not allowed to play for a title.

Utah has also had two undefeated teams in both 2004 and 2008 but has not played for a title. Tulane (1998), Marshall (1999), and Boise State (2007) have all defeated every team they faced but could not play for a title.

At what point should a team join the 15 teams allowed to play for a title. Why is college football the only sport where a dream season is not rewarded?



Do not use strength of schedule as an excuse


Every year a team is skipped over for a chance to play for a national championship because nationally it is assumed they do not play a tough schedule or in a tough conference.

The reality is a good football team is a good football team. To make a case let’s look at the combined win/loss records of the opponents of the teams left undefeated at this point in the season.

Iowa: opponents combined win/loss: 30-18

Florida: opponents combined win/loss: 20-16

Texas: opponents combined win/loss: 20-18

Alabama: opponents combined win/loss: 22-22

TCU: opponents combined win/loss: 19-19

Boise State: opponents combined win/loss: 18-20

Cincinnati: opponents combined win/loss: 17-20


Except for Iowa, the top teams are basically playing .500 or sub .500 football teams. Say what you want about Iowa struggling against some teams they have only played one team with a losing record overall.

Over that same point Florida has played one team with a losing record and three teams with .500 records. Alabama who most think is the best team in college football has played two teams with losing records and two teams with .500 records.

Texas has played two losing teams and one .500 team. TCU has played one team with a losing record and four teams that are just .500 teams.

Boise State has played two teams with losing records and two .500 teams. Cincinnati has played two losing teams and one .500 team.

So what does this show? It shows that no one has played a very hard schedule at this point in the season. Most of the best teams have feasted on mainly .500 or below football teams.

Iowa has played good football teams. No matter if they were an FBS team or a FCS team; or if they were a BCS school or a non-BCS team the teams Iowa is playing just win.

Just to be fair before everyone passes up on the non-traditional teams or the non-BSC teams. Here is a look at the one loss teams that could still win a championship and their opponents win/loss record.

USC: opponents combined win/loss: 18-20

LSU: opponents combined win/loss: 22-18

Miami: opponents combined win/loss: 23-15

Penn State: opponents combined win/loss: 24-21


USC fans and supports love to point out the tough schedule the Trojans play. Well half way through this season USC has played three teams with losing records. Two of those teams are a combined 2-10.

LSU has played three teams with losing records and Penn State has also played three teams with losing records. Miami has played one team with a losing record and two .500 teams.

The question is not the level of talent the little guys are playing. The problem is the best teams in the BCS conferences are playing teams with historic football pasts.

The past and tradition makes college football what it is but how long should a school be excluded for not having a long football past.



Non-BCS schools are 3-1 in BCS games

Since the BCS started to allow teams from the non-BCS conferences in to the big games they have gone a respectable 3-1. They have beaten some of the most historically rich football schools as well.

Utah has beaten Pittsburgh and Alabama in their only two BCS appearances and Boise State beat Oklahoma in its only BCS appearance. Only Hawaii was over matched in its BCS game against Georgia.

So if the non-BCS schools are doing so well in the BCS games and against BCS schools in the regular season why can they not play for a title.

As long as the college football world remains chained to its past there will never be a North Carolina State moment in the championship game.

College football has not even seen a George Mason moment in biggest moment of the season. While a playoff would be best for the fans and monetary for all the schools it does not appear likely to happen anytime soon.

Why don’t we give the Boise State, Cincinnati, Utah, TCU, and more a chance at playing for a title? If the little guys lose they proved they did not belong. If the little guys win it will give college football some of its most memorable moments.


BCS mess 2009-2010


The BCS could be setup for the biggest mess for the little guy so far. While there is a lot left to be played this season here are two scenarios:


A one loss team passes Cincinnati

The Big East gets an automatic berth into the BCS. So if the Bearcats can win the Big East they should in theory get to play for a national championship if they are undefeated and everyone else has one loss.

If the Big East is part of the BCS why should Cincinnati have to worry about being passed by a one loss team? Since it looks likely that Cincinnati or any Big East team going undefeated could be passed by another one loss team then why is the Big East part of the BCS.

The Big East would have a right to complain and well they should. If a member school of the BSC can get passed by one loss team does the national championship really pit the best teams against each other?

The Big East should not even be a member of the BCS if an undefeated team from the conference cannot get into the BCS title game. If a school from a BCS conference cannot get into the championship game what chance does the non-BCS schools have.


Oregon plays for a national championship but Boise State does not

The other nightmare scenario could be Oregon running the table for the rest of the season and playing for a title. The only way this becomes a nightmare for the BCS is if Boise State finishes the year undefeated.

There is no way that Oregon could be considered the national champion if Boise State finishes the year undefeated. The Ducks still have to get past the rest of their schedule and so do the Broncos.

The only way Oregon should be able to play its way into the title game is if Boise State loses and probably losses more than once. To let the Ducks play for a national title would show that the regular season does not matter.



While there is still half the season to go the college football world should scream for a chance to let the little guys play for championship. The excuses do not add up when you look at the fact.

The schools without football history are constantly being left behind for the 15 schools who have built history. Some are recent like Virginia Tech and Florida. Some have a long and rich history like USC and Michigan.

As any fan can tell you a dream season for some schools only come once in a blue moon. Those schools should have a chance to cash in on their dream and make it a reality.



Combined win/loss records of the rest of the one loss teams opponents


Oregon: opponents combined win/loss: 21-17

Georgia Tech: opponents combined win/loss: 26-18

Pittsburgh: opponents combined win/loss: 25-20

Oklahoma State: opponents combined win/loss: 20-19

BYU: opponents combined win/loss: 15-27

Houston: opponents combined win/loss: 17-21

Utah: opponents combined win/loss: 14-24

West Virginia: opponents combined win/loss: 21-18

Kansas: opponents combined win/loss: 17-22


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