BCS Rankings 2010: ESPN's Jesse Palmer Weighs In on the BCS and the Toilet Bowl

David Luther@@davidrlutherFeatured ColumnistNovember 23, 2010

Who will hoist the crystal in Glendale?
Who will hoist the crystal in Glendale?Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

On Monday, ESPN's Jesse Palmer spent a few minutes talking to Bleacher Report's David Luther about all things college football. 

Since Palmer is a regular contributor and college football analyst who appears on ESPN's BCS Countdown show each Sunday night, we figured he'd be a good target for those burning BCS questions everyone seems to have this time of year.

BCS championship implications? BCS buster questions? Heisman race queries? We asked. Palmer answered. 

David Luther: The BCS Computers seems to agree with the pollsters when it comes to the top two teams in the nation. It's clear that either Boise State or TCU would need either Auburn of Oregon to lose to move up. But even if Auburn loses to Alabama, would that be enough for either TCU or Boise State to move up and secure a trip to Glendale?

Jesse Palmer: Not necessarily. It would be up to the votes, I think, to find out would they, could they still take a one-loss Auburn team that's an SEC champion into the national championship game. I think right now the SEC conference has a lot of respect [with the voters].

A team from the SEC has won the national championship each of the last four years, and that weighs very heavily on voters' minds. Those national champions haven't always been undefeated teams. Remember a two-loss LSU team ended up smashing Ohio State in the national championship game back in 2007. Both times Florida won, they had one loss on their record.

There are a lot of independent variables that into that equation: if Auburn lost to Alabama in the Iron Bowl, by how many points did they lose, is it a "good loss," was it competitive game?

People are also waiting to see how Boise State does against Nevada this week on the road and how impressive they are in that win. But your guess is as good as mine. If Auburn were to lose to Alabama but still beat South Carolina in the SEC title game, would [the voters] still put Auburn in the national championship game against an undefeated Oregon and move them ahead of undefeated Boise State or TCU is a great question. 

B/R: With the three-way logjam at the top of the Big Ten, is Wisconsin a lock for the Rose Bowl?

JP: I think so, if they're able to get this win at home against Northwestern, who keep in mind is playing without starting quarterback Dan Persa who ruptured his Achilles tendon a few weeks back in a win against Iowa. Watching Wisconsin with the way they've been able to run the football, particularly without John Clay, Monty Ball and James White I think they had 367 rushing yards this last weekend against Michigan they just continue to pound and run the football and be a physical football team.

I have a hard time envisioning voters placing Ohio State ahead of Wisconsin in the BCS standings if Ohio State and Wisconsin were they both to win this weekend, simply because Wisconsin beat Ohio State in the head-to-head. I do think if Wisconsin wins this weekend, they've secured a spot in the Rose Bowl.

B/R: There are some pretty good one-loss teams near the top of the BCS. If Oregon or Auburn were to go down, which one-loss team do you think has the best chance to leap-frog an unbeaten TCU or Boise State team?

JP: It would be a difficult situation to envision. If I had to pick one, I would pick LSU, again because they're from the SEC. They still have to beat a very good Arkansas team coming up this week. If they were able to win that game, I think that would be one last feather in "The Hat," so to speak, for Les Miles and LSU. One more convincing win before the season is over.

Of course the big argument against is that they're not even playing for the SEC championship. I think a lot of people would have issues with a team that didn't even play for the conference championship to play in a national championship.

Having said that, Stanford is another team that's really interesting right now. You look at what they were able to do this past week, they scored 48 points at Cal which is very impressive because Cal has been a very tough team to be at home this year. It's a Cal team that held Oregon to only one offensive touchdown two weeks ago.

Stanford makes a big statement getting their first win at Cal since 2000 and Luck goes 16-for-20. He's been impressive all season long. Stanford's only loss right now is the loss at Oregon, a game that Stanford was winning at halftime, so it's a loss to a No. 1 ranked team.

I think those [LSU and Stanford] would be the most likely one-loss teams that would have the best case to leap-frog an undefeated non-AQ school to go the national championship game were Auburn or Oregon to lose.

B/R: With LSU being the top candidate to leap-frog the non-AQ schools, do you think a team that doesn't win the conference championship really deserves a shot at the national championship, like LSU or Stanford, or should winning your conference really be a prerequisite for playing in the BCS title game?

JP: Personally, I think you have to win your conference to even have a chance to play in the national championship. It doesn't seem right to me that you're not playing in that [conference championship] game and have a chance to play for everything. To me, winning your conference would be a prerequisite if you're going to play in the BCS national championship game.

B/R: I have to ask about the Heisman race and all of the issues surrounding Cam Newton right now. Do you think there are going to be voters that might shy away from voting for Newton because of what happened with Reggie Bush? Is the potential that Newton could, at a later date, be declared ineligible, and the Heisman Trust would have to consider taking the trophy away, will that scare voters off?

JP: I would vote for Cam Newton right now. I've always said Cam Newton is innocent until proven guilty. There are a lot of allegations going on surrounding his alleged behavior while at Florida, and the alleged recruitment process at Mississippi State. I think that voters need to wait until the very last possible minute to make a vote. I don't think anybody should jump to conclusions right now. They should wait until the conference championship games are played so they get the entire body of work of all the candidates before placing a vote.

If Cam Newton has not yet be declared ineligible, I don't see how you can not vote for him. I think it's a lot tougher considering this is on the heels of everything that happened with Reggie Bush. Voters may be reluctant to vote for someone who down the road may have to give their Heisman Trophy back, much like what Reggie Bush did.

But I think a lot of voters would feel pretty awful if they took those measures into consideration, did not vote for Cam Newton expecting him to be ruled ineligible, and then down the road he never is and it's found he never did anything wrong. Then all of the sudden you have someone who was less worthy of winning the trophy win instead of Cam Newton.

I think everybody would agree right now it's really a one-horse race. As of today, I would vote for Cam Newton. If it were me, the only way I would not vote for him is if he was declared ineligible before the balloting is due.

B/R: Boise State and TCU, but particularly Boise State seems to be stuck in BCS no-man's land. Even if they win every game on their schedule, it seems as if nothing is good enough for some people, and the BCS. Boise has made some thinly veiled references to top BCS AQ conference teams declining to put Boise on their schedule, even if Boise asks for only one game, and doesn't ask for a home game in return.

Is there, perhaps, a bit of hypocrisy or cowardice on the part of some BCS AQ teams? On one hand they won't play Boise State and risk a loss, and then on the other hand, they'll say, "Well, Boise State doesn't play anybody."

JP: I think it's a good point. I think that's an uphill battle that Boise State and TCU and some of these teams fight year in and year out. You look back at teams like BYU and Utah and there are some other teams in there as well, where there's a lot of traditional powers and AQ schools that are afraid of scheduling a team from a lesser conference.

Boise State is trying to go undefeated for the fourth season in six years. I think obviously a lot of other schools are very aware of that. It's difficult. I think in the end when we look at all of these teams, we break these teams down, and we decide who plays in a national championship game year in and year out, it's so subjective.

Boise is a team from a non-AQ conference and you can never compare the strength of schedule with a team from inside the SEC or the Big Ten or the Pac-10. In the end, I think it just comes down to who you believe are the two best teams at the end of the year. I think Boise State and TCU are in that conversation right now, but it's tough.

When TCU and Boise State are able to become part of a conference that's an automatic qualifying conference, then it's an argument they really don't have to worry about having. You wonder if Boise State's moves to the Mountain West Conference hoping that in the near future they may be granted AQ status by the BCS. If that's the case, then that's a huge hurdle that Boise State and TCU do not have to worry about leaping in the years to come.

B/R: Do you think the MWC should get an automatic berth in the BCS before what is a pretty bad Big East conference?

JP: Yeah, if you look at it right now, but you have to go back and look at it in traditional measures to find out where they go. There's a mathematical formula the BCS is going to look at in order to grant the MWC automatic qualifying status: how many teams over the last several years finished ranked, who has been the top ranked team, what are their records in bowl games, and things like that.

It'll be interesting to see with Utah and BYU now leaving the conference, I don't know how that affects the Mountain West's chances of becoming an AQ conference. Now Fresno State and Nevada are joining a year later than Boise State, so it'll be interesting to see how that plays out.

But certainly right now if you look at what the Mountain West has done the past couple of years, they're much stronger than the Big East. There's no question about it. I think if that continues, I think at some point the BCS may want to reevaluate just who is going to these games.

Because like it or not, this season we're going see a Big East team, essentially a four- or five-loss team play in the Fiesta Bowl. At some point, I think the NCAA has to put a floor on these teams coming in. It can't just be enough to win a conference. You might have to be ranked in the top 14, 16, 18, 20, what have you in order to get automatic qualifying status. And if not, you lose that automatic qualifying status for that season.

Obviously it's for the BCS to figure out, and it's a lot of math, and a lot of future possibilities.

B/R: You're involved with the Clorox Toilet Bowl game in New Orleans. It's a pretty interesting charitable event. What is the Toilet Bowl, and what is going to support?

JP: One of the things the Toilet Bowl is doing is trying to celebrate the tradition of touch football games being played between families and friends during the holiday season. It's a very American tradition. We often call these things Turkey Bowls, or in this case Toilet Bowls. Clorox is putting on this contest for people to register their families or their teams to play in a bowl game which will be played in early January down in New Orleans.

I'm going to play in the game as the all-time quarterback. It's going to be a ton of fun. It is a friendly game of touch football. Absolutely anybody can play in this. You don't have to be an NFL-caliber player to play in this game. It really is a game for the rest of us.

Clorox also is making a charitable donation to the "Friends of City Park" which is a field in New Orleans that was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. It's actually the field we're going to be playing this game on. I think it's really a worthwhile cause, it'll be a lot of fun, and a chance for families and friends to come together. I think these bowl games and these fun games that are played between families and friends are a great way to do that.

If people want to find out more about it, they can go to http://www.facebook.com/odetothecommode and find out more about what Clorox is doing.

On behalf of BleacherReport.com, I would like to thank ESPN and Jesse Palmer for their time. 

Please visit http://www.facebook.com/odetothecommode to learn more about the Clorox Toilet Bowl. You can also and enter your team to win a berth in the Clorox Toilet Bowl.


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