Every team with BCS aspirations needs a little luck along the way. Usually "luck" is staying injury-free, the bounce of the ball, or a call that goes their way in a close game.
But for the Texas Christian University Horned Frogs, their luck changed when the Central Michigan Chippewas backed out of a scheduled game with the Clemson Tigers (after the 70-14 beatdown the Tigers gave Chippewas in 2007, it was understandable).
When Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney was presented with his options—reschedule with a I-AA team or face TCU—he chose TCU.
“Surely there had to be a Division I-A team that would want to come here,” Swinney said when the athletic director sought to find another opponent. “Terry Don Phillips got this look on his face and said: ‘There’s one. There’s only one.’ He said it’s TCU. I said, ‘Holy smokes.’ I just said: ‘Let’s play. Let’s do it. It will be great for our kids.’ That’s really how it happened."
The only reason anyone outside Dallas/Ft. Worth is considering TCU as a BCS team—and maybe even a national title contender—is because TCU beat Clemson on the road.
TCU plays in a horrible conference, and the only win they can really hang their hat on is the Clemson game.
"But what about BYU?" The Cougars were blown out at home by the seventh or eighth best ACC team in Florida St. They are not a top 25 team.
"Utah?" Another highly overrated MWC team that doesn't deserve to be in the top 25.
And even the win over Clemson has some critics.
The Tigers start a redshirt freshman quarterback in Kyle Parker, who was just getting his feet wet in the TCU game.
The game was played in monsoon-type weather, and TCU needed a deflected pass for a TD, and some ridiculous mistakes by Clemson, to win 14-10.
A week later, Clemson lost to the Maryland Terrapins, who have two wins this season. One over Clemson, the other over I-AA James Madison University.
Now since that loss to the Terps, the Tigers have played lights out and have climbed back into the polls after reeling off five consecutive victories.
But you have to ask, "Is today's Clemson Tigers team the same one that faced TCU in week four?"
Is TCU a legit National Championship contender? Without a loss by Texas Longhorns and Cincinnati Bearcats (Cincy will pass TCU in the BCS if they beat Pitt), we may never know.
But I will leave with you this.
Until TCU, Boise St., and other "BCS-Busting" teams play in a real conference, they shouldn't get the chance to play in the BCS National Championship game.
You can compare it to playing Tiger Woods in a "putting match."
If Tiger (teams in real conferences) has to hit 10 putts from 10 feet away and two from one foot, against you (TCU) hitting 10 putts from one foot and two from 10 foot, it really isn't fair to Tiger.
He probably is still going to beat you most of the time, but every once in a while, he may slip up. That doesn't mean you are better than Tiger at putting.
The point is TCU doesn't go through the gauntlet that the Pac-10, SEC, etc. go through. The parity in those conferences is close enough that the lower tiered teams have a chance to beat anyone in their respective conferences.
With the MWC and WAC, the top-tier teams are basically playing I-AA teams seven or eight games out of the year. That is a lot of scrimmages, and really eliminates any chance of an upset that you see in the "big boy" conferences.
Do I want to see TCU in the national championship?
Not until they MWC and WAC combine or a playoff system is implemented. I'd like to see both happen.
But until then, TCU can thank the Central Michigan Chippewas, both for the chance to play and win their marquee game of 2009, and the $1 million check that came with it.