Utah was recently invited to leave the non-BCS Mountain West Conference and join the PAC-10. This is a wonderful lift for UTAH, but it begs the question of what makes a team BCS worthy and why isn't every FBS program allowed to compete at the same level in Bowl Season? Why UTAH and not someone else? Why Louisville, Connecticut, South Florida and Cincinnati (two of those programs only having become FBS programs in the last decade or so)?
Well, we wont cover the illegalities of the BCS or it's inherent anti-competitive nature here. Maybe in a more serious article another time. But it does force us to take a look at some of the inequities in college football and wonder which programs are being shunned and financially damaged by the current BCS? Which programs are being left out by reason of their mission statement or geography (or both).
Here is a look at just 12 programs that should be members of BCS conferences and why! It is terribly unfair that they are not. Seven other programs not included that maybe should have been are Tulsa, UTEP, UNLV, Colorado State, Memphis State, Troy State and East Carolina.
ARMY can fight, bleed, die for this nation, but is not apparently BCS worthy. Someone tell me that in a world where Duke, Baylor, Vanderbilt and Iowa State have theoretical shots at the National Title there is no room for the young men and women who are willing to wear a different helmet that probably won't deflect hot lead to the head.
These young brave people should be included if for nothing more than because of who they are and what they are willing to sacrifice for this nation every day after graduation. Army was a tremendous power in the 40's and fell off in football in the last 4 decades. But the Navy and Air Force models have proven that you can build a strong competitive program in this modern era at an academy. The U.S. Army took Germany in 1945, I think given the opportunity and staff, it can compete with Connecticut, Pitt and Syracuse in a conference that welcomes them.
I think liberal university administrators and trustees are uncomfortable with the prospect of rubbing shoulders with military types. It is so NOT liberal.
Boise State - An big time program in terms of OTF performance, but unfortunately located in a small out-of-the-way place. Of course being relatively small and out of the way works for Alabama, MSU, Auburn, Nebraska, Iowa, and Washington State, but I digress.
The Broncos are the most successful FBS team in the last decade and all jabs aside the WAC is still better competition top to bottom than the Sun Belt Conference, MAC and C-USA. Nevertheless, the Broncos in spite of two BCS bowl appearances and having hailed from a conference that has 3 in the last four seasons (remember Hawaii).... the Broncos are a legitimate power. If they had a media market that included the purchasing power of jack rabbits and big-horn sheep Boise would be in the PAC-10.
The Bronco's recent leap to the MWC (prior to Utah's defection) was based legitimately on the assumption that the MWC will not be ignored forever. Overall, the loss of UTAH is significant in terms of football kwan, but BSU's addition allows the league to maintain the position it has which if you listen carefully to everyone, is most likely going to get a BCS AQ status in 2012 anyway (even without UTAH). The MWC market just got bigger, not by much, but bigger none-the-less.
Now if everyone in the MWC could just convince the Broncos they need to have grown-up uniforms, logos and a green stadium then it would be great. Let's face it, those pee-wee-league NFL -Denver Bronco wannabe copycat unies and logos are really lame.
The Golden Eagles aren't a great power. But they can be very competitive and are often the best team in Mississippi as many observers of Old Miss and MSU would privately concur. They are a solid program and have been for two decades. Like other FBS programs in the area, they take a back seat to the SEC, but on the field, there are times when So. Miss can be just as competitive. All a school like Southern Mississippi needs is a little respect, cash and opportunity.
Fresno State was that close....nationally ranked, hot on the tail of a decade old we can take on anyone philosophy and with some big-time victories on it's belt, there was Pat Hill's Bulldogs leading Pete Carrol's Reggie Bush lead Trojans late in the 4th quarter in the L.A Colosseum - and then they lost it at the very end. Fresno State went on to lose another four games and the last half of the decade to some degree. Fresno State has never been quite the same. But they were Boise State before BSU had beaten anyone.
Pat Hill is still there and struggling to build comparable teams, but he can get it done. The Central Valley in California though known for raisin grapes plays second fiddle to the talent rich So-Cal region, but in fact it produces wonderful wine grapes and a lot of local football talent on its own. OK so the wine grapes are at risk due to some environmental nutcase in Washington right now, but at least on the football field (which might have to be painted green if the same nut-job has his way) Fresno State is still capable of defeating just about anyone on any given day. The Bulldog fans are in a depression, a real Grapes of Wrath like environment, but a legitimate shot at a BCS game would truly give the puppies their bite and bark back. FSU has good facilities and an active fan base better than Utah's. They and the economically depressed part of California that was once the producer of 58% of the Northern Hemisphere's fruits and vegetables could use a BCS lift.
OK so what if Hawaii's strength rested in the coaching ability of June Jones and they let him get away. It is still paradise with bad string music and pretty girls. The Rainbows did make it to a BCS game - maybe it wasn't pretty, but they still made it. And somehow people forgot just how badly Illinois was humiliated in the Rose Bowl that same year. It was a virtual home game for Georgia. Still Hawaii can be a tough out on any given Saturday, especially at home where there are natural distractions and five time zones between Maryland and Waikiki. Hawaii is simply by virtue of it's geography a difficult inclusion for anyone, and yet at the same time, the WAC has made it work for more than two decades. Hawaii is the program equivalent of friends-with-benefits and were it not for the scheduled trip by USC, the Trojans might have seen numerous blue-chip recruits jump ship immediately on the heels of the Bush's baked bean scandal.
Chris Ault has built a successful program that like Boise State, rose from the 1-AA ranks only in the last decade or so. The Wolf-pack has not experienced quite the same level of success as the Broncos to the north, but they are competitive. This year's team is a legitimate contender against Boise State and will have a few other opportunities to take several steps forward with BYU and California on the slate. The Reno area anchors the western edge of the Great Basin and like Boise is rapidly growing region of flyover country where rodeo and football take the lead over basketball. Nevada regularly beats-up on UNLV in spite of having less talent year in and year out. Like Boise, there may not be a big financial advantage to seeing Nevada play in a BCS conference, but they are fun to watch and a lot better than people might suspect on any given Saturday. They can be terrible one week and giant killers the next....sort of like Fresno State and Southern Mississippi.
YAK - terrible football team, horrible hire, bad program right now, but this program should be much better and has been in the past. Including New Mexico makes no sense until you understand that it is academically and in most other sports reasonably well suited for inclusion in a BCS league.
No, the Lobos are not the next UTAH, far from it. But they could be. Perhaps they are no where near as worthy as some other programs I left off this list, but I have difficulties with programs that include multi-directional adjectives in their names and a state, perhaps every state deserves some sort of BCS recognition, especially one that is more representative of Native American culture than any other not named Dakota. The Basketball program is on par with many of the better programs in the nation. Finally, I just think the population is among the nicest anywhere from Alamogordo and Las Cruses to Santa Fe.
Houston is a former Southwest Conference Member that got nowhere when the Big-8 and SWC merged nearly two decades ago. That doesn't mean Houston wasn't a good fit, just odd man out with TCU, SMU and Rice. Perhaps the Cougars should have cheated more. Nevertheless, Houston hasn't been quite the same as in those days....until recently.
The ghost of Bum Phillips is alive and well in SE Texas where talent is as thick as oil sludge on a Louisiana Coast.....ok maybe thicker. The fact is, Houston is a massive television market and is to Oil what Texas is to high school football on Friday Nights. Oil and Football just go together and to not see Houston playing for more than a second tier bowl game every year is almost as shameful as changing old traditional bowl game names. There really was once a Tangerine Bowl and a Bluebonnet Bowl. Now we are more likely to find a stadium with a banner that says, the Cuddly-soft TP Bowl or something.
Regardless, Houston is a program with pride, market and money available, and if the MWC would just think about it, a shoe in BCS AQ league if it added the Red clad Cougars to the mix by 2012.
Like Army, the Navy represents the country, but cannot represent the BCS. These young people are smart and brave enough to launch, maintain and land aircraft to and from the pitching decks of 1000 foot long run-ways at sea, but are not good enough to be included in a league where they might one day appear in a BCS Bowl.
If someone can pilot a ship the size of three football stadiums, his team ought to be allowed to play for a spot in the biggest and fanciest stadiums in the land every year. I think pushing Navy to the outskirts of college football is shameful. Navy has built a solid program that is capable of competing in the Big-EAST right now.
Aside from that pathetic excuse for game preparation against Boise State last January, the TCU program is on par with any in the State of Texas. TCU is talented, deep and this year fields a top ten team without question, returning most of its offense and much of it's stifling defense that has lead the NCAA two times in recent years.
TCU was another old Southwest Conference cast-off that needed a home and has finally found it in the up-and- coming Mountain West Conference. They are one of the best football programs in America, not just in Texas. At times in the last ten years, TCU was the best team in Texas.
TCU has been competitive with Utah and traditional national power BYU and in OOC games. Having added Boise State, it is time for the MWC to be recognized even without UTAH. Patience is a virtue and in 2012, the AQ status may make it possible for TCU to play into a spot for a national title.
Not only is Air Force successful on the grid-iron, but they have the coolest traveling shows of any program in the country. Still, the Falcons have earned the right to compete on a national stage because of who they are on the football field. Aside from the many crack-back blocks and d-lineman that have suffered blown knees, air force is tough anyway. Air Force is a really difficult out for anyone not accustomed to playing them week in and week out. The Falcons have been playing major college ball since the late 1950's and they have been competitive the entire time. They can make life and death decisions at 50,000 feet so I think they should be able to compete for the crystal football as well. I'm just say'n......
How can a program that averages a packed stadium of nearly 65,000 fans every week and has been ranked over 300 times in the last 40 years NOT be BCS worthy. BYU is like other religious and military institutions, suffering from it's conservative patriotic and Christian rooted image. Well that or other programs are worried the Cougars might kick their .......
BYU has been nationally relevant for almost 40 years. It has won a national title (1984), is 7-1 lifetime against Oklahoma, Texas and Texas A&M for gosh sakes. No BYU will never be able to get a dozen 4-5 star athletes like Notre Dame or USC, but it will be well coached, disciplined and on any given day can kick your fanny. BYU has been ranked (weakly) more than 300 times in the past 40 years, UTAH less than 100, and yet UTAH got the PAC-10 invite with half the fan base and a stadium that is 20,000 seats smaller. To put that in perspective, BYU was averaging 45,000 fans a game back in 1980 before they expanded the stadium and UTAH only reached that point in....um...2009 for the first time.
BYU is like Air Force, a national program with a huge local and national fan base. far more valuable than most people suspect. ESPN chose BYU to appear on it's first ever live regular season telecast of major college football back in 1984 and Jerry Jones hand picked BYU vs Oklahoma to open his new billion dollar monument to the gridiron in Dallas last year. BYU is a class act and it is a shame not to see the Cougars via for a chance to meet someone important in a bigger venue than Las Vegas every year.