BCS Embarrassment: The Big East Is the Real Problem with the BCS

Eric GalkoFeatured ColumnistNovember 17, 2010

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 26:  Head coach Dave Wannstedt of the Pittsburgh Panthers smiles before the start of their game against the North Carolina Tar Heels on December 26, 2009 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Judging by the title, you can tell that I'm not the biggest BCS supporter. I don't mind the system of ranking teams, and I think sometimes the computers are actually more accurate than human voters. But having the fate of college football rested in "rankings" is just not smart.

Along with that, the fact that a non-BCS conference school or a second place SEC/Big Ten school will have to fight for a BCS spot while a Big East team gets the automatic bid is not fair. And this year, it could be worse than usual. We could have a team that's barely bowl eligible playing after New Years and in primetime. 

The conference in question is the now infamously poor Big East conference. As of now, the conference standings have the 5-4 Pittsburgh Panthers atop the rankings, with a 3-1 conference record.

A 5-4 record with only three left to play, and if they win out, they'll finish at 8-4 and be the best the Big East has to offer. For those of you that follow the FCS ranks (which actually have a playoff system that starts next Saturday, I highly recommend you watch/attend if you can), the CAA conference maybe has more talent than this "BCS-worthy" conference.

But Pittsburgh might not be a shoe-in to win out. As of now, Syracuse is 4-2 in conference with one conference game left to play. South Florida is 3-2 with two conference to play. Connecticut and West Virginia are both 2-2 in conference with three left to play. And currently, Pitt holds the tie-breaker over Syracuse.

Pittsburgh still has to go on the road to South Florida and Cincinnati, and beat the very talented West Virginia team in-between them, none of them easy wins for how up and down they've played this year.

But this article isn't breaking down the Big East conference. It's to show how embarrassing the BCS has become with its "automatic" qualifiers.

Think of it when it comes to college basketball. Would it be fair if Robert Morris or Oakland made it over the second place ACC team? Not in the least bit. And while college basketball has a playoff system that allows for many (maybe now too many) deserving at-large teams.

But in the following scenario, Pittsburgh could be on the same plan as those last added, "automatic" teams in college basketball. 

-Syracuse loses to Connecticut
-West Virginia loses at Louisville and against Rutgers, but beats Pittsburgh
-South Florida loses to Pittsburgh, but beats Connecticut
-Connecticut loses to South Florida, but beats Syracuse
-Pittsburgh loses to West Virginia and Cincinnati, but beats South Florida

In that case, Pittsburgh would finish with a 4-3 conference record, with tie breaks over the teams they need to be, and would finish with a final record of...6-6.

Six and Six. That's the winner of the Big East this year. Congratulations, Pittsburgh?

And regardless of who wins the Big East, only four open spots make it. Let's say that Oregon and Auburn finish undefeated. They get the BCS title game. The Rose Bowl will be the Big Ten Champ, likely Wisconsin, vs. the top left Pac-10 school, which is Stanford. The Fiesta Bowl will be the Big 12 champ, as of now it looks like Nebraska, vs. the top at large, in TCU. The Orange Bowl will be the ACC champ, my pick being the Virginia Tech Hokies, against the aforementioned Pitt Panthers. And finally, the Sugar Bowl will be the SEC number two in LSU, and the last at large spot, likely the Boise State Broncos. 

So, while Pittsburgh gets to play on national television, reap the rewards in recruiting, advertising, and overall program prestige, teams like Ohio State, Missouri, Oklahoma State, Michigan State, Alabama, South Carolina, Arkansas, and even Utah, Air Force and Nevada are left to play in the "Random Advertiser" Meaningless Bowl.

Six and Six. A .500 record. A .500 record gets you fired at most schools, but coach Dave Wannstedt will likely continue to get a pay raise, even if they finish 7-5 or, very outside chance, at 8-4.

A playoff system, at least for the Top 8 teams, needs to happen. I'm a strong supporter for a 16-team bracket where every conference gets a representative and then three at large bids, as every conference has a chance and then the best remaining teams still have a shot. That makes the schedule still just as interesting.

BCS isn't perfect, but it's not the devil either. Playoffs would be great and ideal, but it's not going to happen anytime soon. But with the BCS having the agreement to change its "automatic bid" conferences at the end of the bowl season, it's time to start thinking about letting the Big East develop some meaningful football programs before letting them back in to play with the big boys of the college football world.


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