BCS Controversy: Dispelling Myths of Picking Alabama over Oklahoma State
It's official. Alabama will be playing LSU for the BCS national championship.
Once again, the entire college football world is in an uproar over several selections for the bowls, including the choice of Alabama over Oklahoma State for the No. 2 spot.
There have been several myths that have been masquerading as facts concerning both the Crimson Tide and Oklahoma State since the BCS announcement.
While these myths may seem very convincing at first, once you look deeper, they appear to be clever disguises of the truth.
Myth No. 1: Oklahoma State Had a Tougher Schedule Than Alabama
This first myth is rather simple.
Although Oklahoma State had a hands-down worse loss than Alabama at the hands of Iowa State in overtime as opposed to LSU in overtime, the Cowboys' strength of schedule should have propelled them past Alabama.
Actually, that just isn't the case.
First, if you look at the overall winning percentage of Alabama's opponents versus Oklahoma State's, you get some interesting results.
|Out of Conference||29||19||60.41%|
|Out of Conference||20||16||55.56%|
These numbers show that Alabama's opponents actually have a slightly (albeit insignificantly) higher winning percentage than Oklahoma State's. Anyone who tells you that Oklahoma State's opponents won more games than Alabama's is absolutely mistaken.
Second, out of 12 games, Oklahoma State played only three out-of-conference games as opposed to Alabama's four. Although Alabama's fourth opponent was an FCS school, Georgia Southern is actually widely considered better and ranked higher than about 40 FBS teams. There are also only three schools in the entire FCS division that have more wins than Georgia Southern who is 10-2 this season.
Alabama also had a much stronger out-of-conference schedule once you consider that their win against an automatic qualifying conference was Penn State (9-3 in Big 10) as opposed to Arizona (4-8 in Pac-12).
Third, Oklahoma State actually had two, yes two, bye weeks snugged neatly into their schedule this year. This brings me to my next point...
Myth No. 2: Oklahoma State Played in More Games Than Alabama
This one is actually a bit infuriating.
Many people decided it was "unfair" that LSU and Oklahoma State had to play on championship weekend to prove themselves while Alabama got to rest themselves.
That does seem unfair! How come Oklahoma State has to play in 13 games while Alabama has to only play in 12!
Back it up. Oklahoma State also only had to play in 12 games this season. The Big 12 doesn't have a conference championship.
This was all a scheduling trick to improve ratings in the Big 12 on championship weekend. Without a legitimate conference title game, the Big 12 would be left without any views on one of the bigger weekends in college football.
Apparently the best solution was to give Oklahoma State, Texas, Oklahoma, Baylor, Kansas State and Iowa State two bye weeks throughout the season, as opposed to most every other conference's one bye week.
If you don't think that the win over Oklahoma by Oklahoma State affected the voters, ask yourself where Oklahoma State would be ranked if Alabama played Auburn on the same day.
The margin in the standings would have been significantly higher between Alabama and Oklahoma State.
Myth No. 3: Oklahoma State Had Better Quality Wins Than Alabama
This myth is probably the most overused. Oklahoma State has beaten seven teams with winning records while Alabama has only beaten three.
However, this doesn't tell the whole story. Alabama has wins over three 6-6 teams, something conveniently left out by anyone spouting this statistic.
They also don't point out that every team in the Big 12 got a free win over the 2-10 (0-9 in the Big 12) Kansas Jayhawks, something that raises their already-inflated win total.
Two of Alabama's 6-6 wins (Florida and Vanderbilt) didn't play Ole Miss, the SEC equivalent of the Jayhawks.
Once you compare teams that are .500 or better, the gap between wins closes significantly. Note, I'm also leaving out the 10-2 Georgia Southern squad that Alabama also had to face.
Alabama has beaten these teams that are going to bowls:
Vandy—6-6 in SEC
At Florida—6-6 in SEC
At Penn St.—9-3 in BIG10
At Miss. St.—6-6 in SEC
Arkansas—10-2 in SEC
At Auburn—7-5 in SEC
Six teams, four on the road, all in Automatic Qualifying conferences compose the Alabama wins.
Oklahoma State has beaten these teams that are going to bowls:
La. Tech—8-4 in Sun Belt conference
At Tulsa—8-4 in C-USA
At Texas A&M—6-6 in Big 12
At Texas—7-5 in Big 12
At Mizzou—7-5 in Big 12
Baylor—9-3 in Big 12
Kansas State—10-2 in Big 12
Oklahoma—9-3 in Big 12
Eight teams, four on the road, with two that aren't in Automatic Qualifying conferences compose the Oklahoma State wins.
Oklahoma State was able to play currently ranked No. 8 Kansas State, No. 12 Baylor and No. 14 Oklahoma at home. Oklahoma was also played after a bye week, a commonly forgotten statistic. Only No. 24 Texas was played on the road.
Alabama on the other hand played both No. 25 Auburn and No. 22 Penn State on the road and only No. 6 Arkansas at home.
Myth No. 4: Oklahoma State Deserved a Bid Because of Their Tragedy
In no way am I disrespecting Oklahoma State University or anyone associated with the Cowboys. The plane crash that involved both the head and assistant basketball coaches for Oklahoma State was and will forever be an absolute tragedy in the world of college sports.
I just do not find it right for anyone to use a tragedy as a way of convincing voters to put the Cowboys in the national championship game.
In fact, I almost find it repulsing.
The players and coaches of the Oklahoma State football team would never expect that kind of treatment. Why should the fans expect to be rewarded for such a tragedy?
The Crimson Tide and the city of Tuscaloosa endured widespread destruction by tornadoes in April of 2011. Did they begin the 2011 season campaigning for their spot in the BCS because of this?
Did the 2007 Virginia Tech Hokies expect to be granted amnesty during the 2007 season because of the horrific Virginia Tech shootings?
No. They continued as best they could and played their game throughout the season. Interestingly, all three teams ended up with at least 11 wins, a tremendous achievement in its own right.
Tragedies are sadly a part of life. They can't be avoided, and they certainly can't be ignored once they happen.
In the end, they should never be used to lift a team higher than another in something as trivial as a football ranking.
Myth No. 5: Oklahoma State Is a Better Team Than Alabama
The Alabama Crimson Tide have the most dominant defense in college football. They rank first in most every defensive category. This includes rushing defense, passing defense, total defense, scoring defense, passing efficiency, third down percentage and red zone percentage.
This is commonly retorted with, "Well their offense is absolutely atrocious! Six points against LSU is an absolute travesty!"
Actually, that's completely untrue. Alabama is averaging 36 points a game, good enough for 15th in the FBS.
Alabama also has one of the most dominant running attacks in college football, averaging 220 yards per game on the ground. Adding in 214 yards through the air, and Alabama hits every team it faces with a balanced attack that is 30th in the FBS in total yards per game.
Oklahoma State on the other hand is a one-trick pony. They rank 107th in total defense, giving up 446 yards per game to their opponents. While their offense is clearly one of the best in the nation, sitting at second overall, they just can't get keep their opponents from scoring.
Oklahoma State ranks 61st in points allowed per game with 26. Alabama is allowing just nine points per game.
The eye test is clearly passed by Alabama, and frankly, Alabama looks pretty spectacular.