The target on the back of the BCS seems to be larger than usual this year.
The hype surrounding the national championship ambitions of Boise State and TCU surpasses anything seen in the short history of the Bowl Championship Series, and is credited to the anticipated high preseason national rankings for both teams.
The hype is certainly well deserved.
For the first time since the BCS's inception in 1998, an underprivileged outlier has a legitimate shot at playing for a national championship. We all know that for so many teams, winning football games is only half the battle. The other half is achieving recognition for those wins.
In other words, wins don't win championships. Rankings do.
Neither Boise State nor TCU is a stranger to winning. The two programs own a cumulative record of 44-4 in the past two seasons. Despite their success, they've remain uninvited to the big show due to their lack of credibility within the BCS ranking system.
Boise State may very well conquer that obstacle in 2010, given their expected top-five preseason ranking, something never achieved by a non-BCS school.
This will likely place them ahead of big-time 2009 performers such as Iowa, Florida, Texas, and Penn State.
Needless to say, this is a pivotal time in the current and future standing of NCAA football.
Now, I always have been, and always will be an ardent supporter of the underdog whenever the opportunity arises. I applaud both Boise State's and TCU's successes at every turn, and I long for a playoff system as much as any Bronco or Horned Frog fan.
However, even though it pains me to say it, no team playing in a non-BCS conference deserves a top-five preseason ranking. At least not in 2010.
You may not like the BCS. Most people don't. Many are counting the days until it's gone forever. And someday, it might be. But in the meantime, credit simply needs to be earned before being given.
Let's break down the accomplishments of these two teams in 2009.
The Broncos had only one win over a BCS opponent. They beat Oregon in a dramatic season opener that included the ejection and eventual suspension of star running back LeGarrette Blount. Additionally, aside from TCU, Oregon was the team's only win over a ranked opponent.
After Oregon and TCU, the highest ranked opponent they faced was Nevada.
Stanford also beat Oregon last season. They also beat six more BCS opponents and another ranked opponent in USC. At season's end, they were 8-5.
Are we even going to see Stanford ranked in the top 25 before the season?
Probably not, given their five losses against competitive BCS schools. They didn't have the luxury of cashing in wins against Tulsa, Hawaii, Louisiana Tech, Utah State, or Idaho.
Their 2010 preseason ranking would look a lot different if they had.
The Horned Frogs had two wins over BCS opponents and two wins over ranked opponents last season.
They beat Virginia (a BCS doormat) and Clemson out of the ACC, and BYU.
Their schedule was a little more credible, but didn't match up with the likes of teams in the Big 12, Big Ten, or SEC.
In terms of BCS credibility, both Boise State and TCU played two- or three-game seasons. They're taking a shortcut to BCS glory.
Poor LSU had to get past Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, and Georgia to play for a national championship.
Texas had to beat Oklahoma, Nebraska, Texas Tech, Missouri, and Oklahoma State to make it all the way.
Now, I know both Boise State and TCU would jump at the chance to play a BCS-caliber schedule. They'd love to prove to naysayers that they can beat more than one or two legitimate teams each and every year. For that reason, I really feel for them.
However, until the system changes or they realign themselves, they'll have to take a back seat to teams that truly earn their name.
We'll learn a lot about these teams this season, as they'll take on a few more formidable BCS opponents. The Broncos open with an extremely tough road game against Virginia Tech, and play an additional game against Oregon State.
TCU also has to play the Beavers this season.
Until then, it's still the preseason.
And, as of right now, neither has accomplished enough to warrant a top-five preseason ranking.
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