While most in the college football world will wish good riddance to the BCS, Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops may not be as quick to dismiss the departing selection system.
In fact, the 53-year-old just might find himself struggling to bid it farewell.
Monday night’s BCS National Championship matchup between Florida State and Auburn marked the 16th and final time the BCS will decide college football’s champion. In its place, the College Football Playoff is set to debut in 2014.
But although it is commonly viewed as flawed, controversial and chaotic, among other unpleasantries, the BCS will always hold a special fondness in Stoops’ heart.
That’s because for the Youngstown, Ohio, native, the BCS is all he knows.
All 15 of Stoops’ seasons as a head coach have been during the BCS era. In that time, he’s racked up more wins (160) than any other Sooners coach in school history, recorded 12 10-win seasons, captured eight Big 12 crowns, won one BCS title and made nine appearances in a BCS bowl.
That last feat puts him at the top of the list among his peers:
|Coaches With the Most BCS Bowl Appearances|
|1. Bob Stoops||9||4-5|
|2. Jim Tressel||8||5-3|
|3. Nick Saban||7||5-2|
|4. Pete Carroll||7||6-1|
|5. Bobby Bowden||6||1-5|
|6. Frank Beamer||5||1-4|
|7. Urban Meyer||5||4-1|
Furthermore, with his victory in last Thursday’s Sugar Bowl, Stoops has put himself in a class of his own:
In fact, Stoops joins Penn State coaching legend Joe Paterno as the only two head coaches to win all four major bowls (Orange, Sugar, Fiesta and Rose) along with the Cotton Bowl. Both also have at least one national title to their names.
Needless to say, no coach has enjoyed more success than Stoops during the BCS era.
Or in certain cases, more luck.
Back in 2003, Oklahoma rolled through the regular season. The team tossed aside each and every opponent in its path, averaging 48.3 points and winning by a margin of 35.2 points per game.
However, the Sooners laid an egg in the Big 12 title game and were thrashed by Kansas State, 35-7.
Common sense suggested that because Oklahoma lost its final game, it shouldn’t be included in the title game. Especially at the expense of either 12-1 LSU or 11-1 USC.
Instead, the final BCS Standings had the No. 1 Sooners taking on the No. 2 Tigers in the 2004 BCS National Championship matchup, snubbing the Trojans—the AP Poll’s No. 1 team.
Five seasons later, in 2008, Oklahoma found itself back in the middle of BCS controversy. This time, it was to see who deserved a trip to the Big 12 title game, which served as a de facto play-in game for the BCS National Championship game that year.
Along with the Sooners, Texas and Texas Tech finished the regular season at 11-1. Each team had a victory over one of the other two while losing to the other.
With head-to-head records out the window, the Big 12 tiebreaker rules at the time called for the division winner to be decided by which team ranked higher in the BCS standings.
Although the Longhorns held the edge in both the Harris and Coaches’ Poll—along with a 45-35 victory in the Red River Rivalry that year—Oklahoma somehow managed to rank higher in the BCS standings and weaseled its way into the Big 12 title game and eventually the BCS National Championship matchup.
The Sooners may have lost both title games, but Stoops has the BCS system—flawed or not—to thank for those opportunities.
Had the College Football Playoff selection committee been in existence, chances are high that Oklahoma wouldn’t have even gotten a sniff of the national title game in either of those years.
But the BCS saved its best gift for last.
Following the 2013 season, the final at-large selection for the BCS came down between the 10-2 Sooners and 10-2 Oregon to decided who would face two-time defending BCS national champion Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.
Given the higher ranking in the polls and the interest in a Ducks-Crimson Tide clash—long thought to be the destined national championship matchup—Oregon seemed to be the right choice.
However, due to the Sugar Bowl’s impending relationship with the Big 12, Oklahoma got the nod. Suddenly, the dream matchup we all wanted to see was snubbed in favor of what was largely expected to be a slaughter.
The spreads seemed to share the same mindset with Alabama closing as high as a 17-point favorite.
Except this time, Stoops and his Sooners proved all of their detractors wrong on the national stage, handling the Tide rather convincingly, 45-31—Alabama’s worst loss since 2010.
Now, as the BCS prepares to make its long-awaited exit, it won’t be leaving alone. It will be joined by all the negative connotations suggesting that Oklahoma can’t win the big game.
Thanks to the BCS, the Sooners will be looking ahead to 2014 with tremendous aspirations.
But most of all, thanks to the BCS, Stoops has finally regained his swagger.
All stats and rankings used in this article are courtesy of CFBstats.com.