honorary Hose Monster:
USC head football coach Pete Carroll must be absolutely beside himself this evening.
And rightly so.
Despite watching his team rise to take the top spot in both the ESPN/Coaches and Associated Press college football rankings, the ridiculousness created by ABC and four big corporations that we lovingly call the BCS rankings have Oklahoma and LSU holding the top spots. Meaning that #1 ranked USC will not have a chance to play in the national title game.
All three teams have one loss, so making the blanket statement that USC deserves the chance to play in that game (while probably true) may go a little far, expecially considering the fact that USC's loss went to an lesser (though underrated) Cal team, while Oklahoma's loss came yesterday to a very strong Kansas State team and LSU lost to a perenially good, though fading, Florida squad.
But with apologies to Mad Pony Kristin, in my mind Oklahoma should have fallen out of the BCS title game. Oklahoma does not have one of the top two spots in either poll. And after the absolute ass-kicking Kansas State handed them Saturday night, they don't deserve the top rankings. But the BCS formula still has them as number one, with LSU edging USC by a very slight margin, for the second spot.
Two days ago everyone kept wondering who would go between USC and LSU, basically saying that as long as SC beat Oregon State last weekend, which indeed happened with USC hanging 56 on a respectable defensive unit, they would get their Sugar Bowl invitation. And now USC is out, largely because Oklahoma lost, allowing LSU to move up in the computer polls and edge them out. USC misses a great opportunity because a number of completely unimportant games came out the way they did.
Talk about schedule strength all you want, but you cannot fault the players for the teams they play against - athletic directors make their football schedules years in advance, and making a team that has come back to win over those who study college football lose out because some computer says so and because teams that those kids played two months ago lost a game strikes me as a major problem.
Talk about Oklahoma and how dominant they have played this year. Yes, they have impressed me to no end. But USC has dominated its games this year as well, and Carroll's offense, resting on the shoulders of a sophomore quarterback whose rating this year eclipses last year's USC Heisman-winning quarterback, looks damn impressive right now. Trying to say one time has played that much better doesn't strike me as a very strong argument at this point.
But the thing that gets me more than any other factor is that Oklahoma gets to go play in the national championship game when it failed to win its own conference. True, the Big XII builds in an extra game for the sake of the sponsors, but to me, you wrap up your own backyard before you start thinking about manifest destiny. USC won the Pac-10, LSU the SEC. If nothing else, they should get the two bids based on that factor. But instead we have a wild-card by proxy, the second time this has happened in the short and less than impressive reign of the BCS.
Not that I'm agitating for a playoff system. In the mess of all that talk disappears the crucial fact that college football players are students, and while at some programs (read: Ohio State) most players only hold the title student athlete because the NCAA requires it, these guys still need to at least have some encouragement to focus on their schooling as much as their football.
Nor am I trying to look like an Oklahoma hater. Bob Stoops' team has been the best in college football for the last five years without question, and they have thrown themselves into the title game mix every year. But I do think that because of what happened yesterday, a very good football team loses something they really have earned. And thus we add BCS bias to the ever-present problem of East Coast bias.
The one positive to all of this (okay maybe the fans will lead a revolt into the BCS offices and urinate all over their idiot computers, that could be positive #2) is that the Rose Bowl returns, at least this year, to what it should be: a great Big 10/Pac-10 match-up. You can bet that a great number of college football fans will be waiting for that game more eagerly than the Sugar Bowl.