College Football: Ohio State President's Troubling Comments

Ben SteigerwaltCorrespondent INovember 24, 2010

IOWA CITY, IA - NOVEMBER 20:  Quarterback Terrelle Pryor #2 of the Ohio State Buckeyes talks with teammates in the huddle during the play against the University of Iowa Hawkeyes at Kinnick Stadium on November 20, 2010 in Iowa City, Iowa. Ohio State won 20-17 over Iowa. (Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images)
David Purdy/Getty Images

The president of Ohio State University has something to say about schools like TCU and Boise State being in the national championship. Like so many opinions pertaining to the BCS bowl system, president E. Gordon Gee's are both impassioned and moronic.

Gee is quoted as follows: "I do know, having been both a Southeastern Conference president and a Big Ten president, that it's like murderer's row every week for these schools. We do not play the Little Sisters of the Poor. We play very fine schools on any given day."

"So I think until a university runs through that gantlet that there's some reason to believe that they not be the best teams to [be] in the big ballgame."

First of all, I'd like to take the leap and assume that Gee meant "gauntlet" and not a section of railroad that involves two tracks merging into one. And that's not even the dumb part.

Ohio State has played three ranked teams all year. (Incidentally, so has Boise State. TCU has played two.)

While the Buckeyes didn't schedule their usual cupcake assortment of Youngstown State and Miami (Ohio), they did include Ohio University*, a directional Michigan school and Marshall in their gantlet. Uh, gauntlet.

Current 16th-ranked team in BCS standings Virginia Tech has run through it's BCS conference gauntlet undefeated and, therefore, by Gee's assertion, should be in the mix for the national championship. The problem? They were defeated by that overrated Boise State team.

And James Madison University, a school that's not even eligible for a BCS ranking.

So, you see, it's not all that simple to be undefeated in any college football season. Is it easier for schools like Boise State and TCU to do so? Of course. But that only means that they cannot afford a Virginia Tech-like mental lapse against a lesser opponent since they can't get an automatic BCS bid.

And Boise State hasn't lost a college football game since December 23, 2008. To TCU. TCU's last loss was to Boise State in last year's Fiesta Bowl.

Frankly, it seems to me that the BCS stands only to benefit by matching up TCU and Boise State against the major conference big boys. They've earned their seat at the table by scheduling ranked non-conference opponents (and let's not forget that strength of schedule is a factor in the computer rankings portion of the BCS formula).

And if Boise State or TCU lose to a BCS conference team, whether in the championship game or not, it validates the BCS system.

I understand Gee's opposition to a playoff system. BCS conferences are guaranteed a BCS bowl berth (and the accompanying payout to the involved schools) and the perennial contenders at the tops of those conferences (like Ohio State) have the best chance at the payout, win or lose.

Frankly, there's no incentive for the BCS system to change. The teams that get the biggest TV ratings are also among the most successful. And the TV ratings are great with the current system.

A playoff setup provides a compelling and logical resolution to a season of college football. In all likelihood, the TV ratings for a playoff system could be even better than those of the current format. However, the current format provides guaranteed revenue and a playoff system allows for uncertainty and the possibility of a TCU-Boise State championship with low ratings and unsatisfied cash cow conference schools.

As a sports fan, I want to see a tournament bracket format with the best teams in the country playing competitive and meaningful games against one another. But, too many fans are tied to specific programs. Not enough of those are tied to small-market schools like Boise State and TCU.

So, for the time being anyway, Gee stands as a bastion of why the system is the way it is. He has probably never watched Boise State or TCU play. He certainly isn't factoring in the significant disadvantage the schools face when recruiting against the likes of Ohio State and he is ignoring the significant factor that strength of schedule plays in BCS rankings, by putting small conference schools out of national championship consideration if they suffer a loss and leaving the door open for a one-loss major conference team to sneak into the national championship game.

Perhaps, Gee would be better served to spend his time setting an example for Ohio State students by doing his homework.


*  [Credit in the comment threads re: Ohio was actually on Ohio State's schedule and it is Ohio University, not University of Ohio.]