College Football's West Coast Bias: Should Oregon Stay No. 3 With Weak Schedule?

Gerald BallCorrespondent IOctober 7, 2010

EUGENE, OR - OCTOBER 2: Quarterback Darron Thomas #1 of the Oregon Ducks warms up before the start of the game against the Stanford Cardinal at Autzen Stadium on October 2, 2010 in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
Steve Dykes/Getty Images

Should an Oregon team who played New Mexico, FCS Portland State, and Tennessee out of conference be in the national title picture?

That is the question, folks. And if you are someone who has spent the last eight years bashing and trashing the SEC and the BCS—a pastime which Oregon and Pac-10 fans has been a national leader in—then your answer should be YES.

Otherwise you are a hypocrite. The Pac-10 position, established in 2003 and 2004, held that Auburn and LSU should not have been in the national title picture because they played a weak nonconference lineup of Louisiana-Monroe (Sun Belt, which is FBS, and the same ULM who beat Alabama in 2007), Louisiana Tech (in the WAC), Citadel (FCS), and Lousiana-Monroe, Western Illinois (FCS) and Arizona (Pac-10) respectively.

And according to this crowd, playing an FCS team, which the mighty Southern Cal Trojans NEVER EVER does, is an automatic disqualifier. Yep, Pac-10 fans actually argued that the BCS should be altered to penalize teams who played FCS schools. 

And there was one more argument: Since Auburn lost to USC in 2003 and was basically the same team, why should they get a rematch in 2004. Remember those arguments, Pac-10 fans? I hope you do. The question is: Are you willing to apply them to Oregon?

Of course, this does not apply to SEC fans. Why? Because the SEC fans never made these ridiculous, contrived self-serving arguments in the first place.

SEC fans have long sat back and watched teams from weak conferences who played tough nonconference schedules win titles, teams from strong conferences who played weak nonconference schedules win titles, plus independents win titles by playing MAYBE two or three tough games all season. When it happened, SEC fans would say "Eh, that's the system that we have" and move on.

Pac-10 and West Coast fans? Not so much. They are quick to call the system "biased" and "corrupt" and urge that it be blown up.

Now if you want to deride Auburn's 60 ranked schedule according to Sagarin in 2004, fine. Let me point out that Oregon's schedule is currently No. 57, and as that includes their victory over No. 12 Stanford, it is extremely unlikely to get out of the 40s.

Also,this reaches ridiculous proportions. LSU was derided as having a "weak schedule" in 2003 despite Sagarin's giving it a 28 rating. Now granted, USC's was rated No. 19, but what mattered was LSU's three games against Sagarin's top 10 versus USC's one.

More to the point, LSU played eight games against Sagarin's top 21. USC, meanwhile, played three: No. 8 Michigan, No. 15 Washington State, and No. 18 Auburn (which LSU also beat).

But it gets worse. The west coast "weak schedule" nonsense continued against Florida in 2006, 2008, and 2009 despite the Gators having the No. 8, No. 4, and No. 15 schedule respectively. Now the chirping was not quite as loud against LSU in 2007 because of collapses by Cal, USC, and Oregon, but it did exist—as did BCS bashing in genera—despite the fact that LSU had the No. 11 schedule according to Sagarin, as compared to No. 29 by USC.

And Oregon fans: Don't bother with the "we play nine conference games!" thing. USC only played eight conference games in 2003 and 2004. Auburn and LSU, meanwhile, each played nine because of the SEC title game.

Oregon didn't know that Tennessee was going to stink when they scheduled them? Fine, neither did LSU when they scheduled Arizona.

So the bottom line is that there is no argument that could have been made against Auburn and LSU in 2003 and 2004 that can't be used against Oregon this year. The question is whether Duck fans will use those same arguments against their own team.

Now of course, I do not expect Duck fans to, including the ones who proclaimed, "I would be SO ASHAMED of accepting those fraud BCS titles if I were a fan of an SEC team, and I would DEMAND that we toughen our schedules and have a playoff!"

Yes Oregon fans. You guys had more than a few who made comments like that. I don't expect you to adhere to that argument now that the shoe is on your foot. Or web. Or whatever. I just want you to admit that it was a bad argument, a standard that had never been applied to college football in the past, to begin with.

Now the national media is a different story.

Until the SEC shut the national media up by winning national titles in 2006, 2007, and 2008 (and recall how the media insisted that Florida had no chance against Ohio State in 2006), the SEC nonconference schedules were a leading college football story.

It was used to coerce major changes in the BCS in 2003 and 2004, it cost LSU the 2003 AP title, and kept Auburn out of the 2004 title picture altogether. Now if you feel that the national media was right in 2003 and 2004, fine.

My issue is that the folks at ESPN, Sports Illustrated, the Sporting News, the AP (especially their lead sportswriter Jim Litke) and all those people who trashed LSU and Auburn nonconference schedules have had NOTHING to say about Oregons!

Quite the contrary, the national media used Oregon crushing New Mexico as evidence that they belong in the national title picture. The fact that New Mexico went 1-11 last year, is 0-5 this year, and has lost their other games to the tune of 52-17, 56-14, 45-10, and 38-20 goes completely unmentioned. And the national media types who regurgitated the "playing FCS teams ought to disqualify you for the BCS title game!" nonsense aren't saying a thing about Portland State.


Instead, the media actually prefers, favors if you will, western teams. For instance, the same national media that fell in love with western option attacks at places like Oregon and Utah spent the entire 1980s and 1990s bashing similar offenses run in the Big 8/Big 12, calling them "gimmick" and "high school" offenses.

I recall Nebraska's destroying Florida 62-24 in the 1995 national title game only to see ESPN claim, "so what, Nebraska is still a fraud, they didn't play anybody out of conference, and FSU would beat them in a playoff!" (The fact that Florida had beaten FSU 35-24...unimportant.)

Yet we still hear this nonsense coming from west coast types. The last missive: Rick Neuheisel claiming that "East Coast bias" was responsible for Stanford's dropping in the polls.

Excuse me, but that wasn't "East Coast bias." That was Stanford's getting drilled 52-31! Quick, name the teams who gave up 52 points while losing by three TDs that are still in the top 10.

Actually, you can take your time if you want BECAUSE THERE AREN'T ANY. ALL of the teams in the top 10 are UNDEFEATED. And by the way: Stanford is ranked higher than UNDEFEATED Michigan, UNDEFEATED Michigan State, UNDEFEATED Missouri, and UNDEFEATED Kansas State. Why? Because they beat 2-3 Notre Dame, 2-2 UCLA, 2-3 Wake Forest, and FCS Sacramento State!

So, their only game against a team with a winning record is a three TD loss, and their dropping in the polls is east coast bias? That's rich.

Now of course, Neuheisel pointed out that LSU barely got by Tennessee at home. Fine, but how are LSU's offensive struggles any different from Stanford's defensive ones?

Combine the Stanford offense with the LSU defense and you got the No. 1 team in the country. But the Stanford offense with the Stanford defense has already gotten routed by Oregon and still has to get by USC, Washington, Oregon State, Cal, and Arizona. My guess is that LSU and Stanford are going to finish with about the same record.

Now again, my personal opinion is that Oregon is a great team who fully deserves to be in the national title race, and should even jump Ohio State if former is more impressive than is the latter. (Duck fans should realize, however, that is easier said than done, especially if Miami, Michigan, Michigan State, etc. keep winning. If Miami in particular beats FSU on Saturday, they have a very good shot at going 11-1.)

But of course, my opinion hasn't changed. Nope, it is the Oregon and Pac-10 fans for whom nonconference schedules mattered so much from 2003-2009 only to all of a sudden not matter at all this year and the national media has taken the same position.

That's either West Coast bias or hypocrisy. Either way, it stinks worse than raw duck eggs, and est coast football fans need to step up and admit it.