TCU Wins Rose Bowl: Strength of Schedule Argument Officially Dead

Fritz WardContributor IJanuary 1, 2011

A Great Win for TCU and the Non AQ
A Great Win for TCU and the Non AQJeff Gross/Getty Images

TCU just won the Rose Bowl.  They lost the time of possession game, but that only shows how efficient the TCU offense was.  But there are bigger implications to this game.  Among these are that the top AQ schools can play with anyone in the AQ conferences.  There is no question that Boise State would have done just as well this year.  But what this game really shows is how little the strength of schedule argument actually matters.  This is, of course, the main argument made for keeping non AQ teams out of the title game, but this game shows it is nonsense.

As of this game, the non AQ are 4-1 against teams with a stronger strength of schedule.  It began with Utah beating Pitt in 2004.  Following that, Boise State beat Oklahoma, Utah beat Alabama, and now TCU has beaten Wisconsin.  In every case the defenders of the BCS system and pundits everywhere picked the non AQ team to lose, in part because of the supposedly weaker schedule.  And they were wrong.

But this points out the problem with the whole argument.  The BCS is supposed to match the two best teams, not the teams with the two toughest schedules.  Those two may be the same thing, but often are not.  The 4-1 BCS bowl record of the non AQ shows that decisively. 

Even the exceptions more or less prove the rule.  The only non AQ team to lose to a school from an AQ conference was Hawaii, which lost to Georgia.  Was it because Georgia had a tougher schedule?  Maybe.  Or maybe it was because Georgia should have been in the title game that year and were simply the better team.  There is no question Hawaii would have been competitive against several other BCS teams that year, including Illinois.

The other exception was the 2009 Fiesta Bowl, where the two non AQ teams were forced to play each other thereby saving the Big Six conferences from further embarrassment.  But this exception further proves the rule.  TCU was a heavy favorite because they "played a tougher schedule."  They, like the other teams noted above, lost.

The most recent win by TCU proves the whole strength of schedule argument is a sham.  Any way you look at it, SOS does not show who the better team is.  It is really just an argument for excluding teams that defenders of the Big Six conferences cannot beat on the field.  And it has to go.