In the past few seasons, some have argued that the BCS system has failed because teams like TCU and Boise State did not “get a shot” at the Championship game—despite being undefeated.
But the truth is every team starts the seasons with the same chance of making the BCS Championship Game. From the SEC to the Sun Belt, every team has the opportunity.
What most people fail to realize is that the BCS system isn't in place to determine who has a potential claim to be considered for a championship slot, but rather who is most deserving of the two slots.
Critics believe that an undefeated season itself is worthy of a claim to the title. But in order to get into the Game, a team MUST play a tough enough schedule AND win them all, or only lose one (or, if something screwy happens and your name is LSU ...then two losses is okay).
The first argument that people make for Boise and TCU is their work over the past few seasons. Since 2006, Boise State is 61-5 and TCU is 55-10. Three losses came in one season for the Broncos and five for the Horned Frogs. Two of the combined losses were to each other. Those sure look like Championship team resumes, right? Well, not exactly.
When is the last time that the previous season had any real effect on the next other than preseason polls?
Never. In 2009 Auburn went 8-5. In 2010 Auburn went 14-0. In 2009 Florida went 13-1. In 2010 Florida went 8-5. Since Saban came in 2007, Alabama is 43-8. Does this mean that 2011 Alabama should get a shot at the 2012 Championship because of their past record? No. What would give Alabama a shot is the fact that they showed they deserved it that season by playing a tough-enough schedule, and winning.
Then, people ask the question, “What exactly is ‘tough-enough’? Well, to be honest it is subjective because it is year-by-year. However, one can look at some schedules and know that it will never be tough enough. Let’s look at one now:
Oregon St. (5-7)
Tennessee Tech (FCS)
Southern Methodist (7-7)
Colorado St. (3-9)
Brigham Young (7-6)
Air Force (9-4)
Nevada-Las Vegas (2-11)
San Diego St. (9-4)
New Mexico (1-11)
63-77 with an FCS school
That schedule is nowhere near Championship caliber.
And then there's the argument that a team can't control the fact that it is in a weak conference. Well, then let’s look at the non-conference games on this schedule, those games that the team CAN control:
Oregon State (5-7)
Tennessee Tech (FCS)
19-20 with an FCS school. Zero games against teams that finished in the AP Top 25.
Wow. Is that really the best competition that the TCU AD could find? Well, the answer is no. Alabama, Auburn, LSU, and Florida officials have all announced that TCU has not contacted them about a game. Some say that those schools should contact TCU if they want to prove that they are better than TCU. That is horrible logic.
First, what do Alabama, Auburn, LSU, and Florida have to prove? Together they share six Championships in the BCS. And let’s look at Auburn’s schedule last season:
Arkansas St. (4-8)
Mississippi St. (9-4)
South Carolina (9-5)
Louisiana St. (11-2)
South Carolina (9-5)
89-66 with an FCS. 6 games against opponents that finished in the AP Top 25.
In no way does Auburn have to play TCU, with an inferior schedule, in order to prove anything.
Secondly, if Boise State and TCU really want to prove they are the best, shouldn’t they be the ones calling teams out to play them? After all, a contender who wants the title has to challenge the current incumbent, not the other way around.
Then comes the argument that Nebraska refused to play Boise State, which is perhaps the worst argument that can be made. Let's recap:
1) Nebraska contacts Boise first.
2) Boise rejected the conditions of the Nebraska offer, and made a counter of one game for $1 million.
3) Nebraska rejects the counteroffer and decides that paying $300k or so to a lower non-AQ school is simpler.
The claim that “Nebraska refused to schedule us” is wrong. Nebraska contacted Boise State first. Nebraska was willing.
We also have the fact that Boise asked for $1 million—far more than most teams pay Sun Belt, MAC, and lower WAC/MWC opponents in addition to the FCS. Some people claim that Boise is worth more because they are better competition. I’m sorry, but what part of that claim is supposed to make sense? Since Boise fans are so sure that they would beat Nebraska, what makes them think that Nebraska would pay 7 figures for a loss? Or even a realistic chance at a loss?
The blame for this does not lie on Nebraska. It lies on Gene Bleymaier, the Broncos' Athletic Director. It was his job to schedule football games, and he attempted to broker the Nebraska deal. He did a horrible job of it, costing Boise the chance at a real non-conference game.
The Broncos did fill the slot with Ole Miss (4-8 1-7 in 2010) before switching the Rebels for the Georgia Bulldogs (6-7 3-5 in 2010) in the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Classic. Then they round off the non-conference play with Toledo, Tulsa, and Nevada, three other non-AQ schools.
So the Broncos attempted to slightly improve their conference schedule with the shift to the MWC, but then they take a step back with their non-conference schedule. They have no reason to complain if they are left out this season.
Their schedule was weak—plain and simple.
Now, let’s move on to TCU, who recently rejected an offer for one game with Wisconsin. The Badgers wanted a grudge match after last season’s 21-19 Rose Bowl loss to the Horned Frogs, but they won’t be getting it because TCU feels—for whatever reason is beyond me—that they are holding all the cards in college football.
Here are just a few reasons that TCU has no room to demand a home-and-home:
1) Their stadium holds 44,008 people. Wisconsin’s Camp Randall seats 80,321. Teams usually allot around 5% to be sold by the visiting team’s athletic department. The estimated ticket value is included in the payout. Thus, Wisconsin would allot TCU about 4000 tickets.
Now, TCU fans can still buy them through Wisconsin or third-parties. Also, with the hype for this game, the allotment would most likely be a bit higher.
If the deal was for home-and-home, then Wisconsin would have to settle for just over 2000 tickets to Amon Carter Stadium. That includes the band and school officials as well as family members of the team. Usually, that is estimated around 500 tickets for schools like Wisconsin, but could be higher since the band itself is around 300. Thus, TCU would have to pay Wisconsin a pretty penny to make the game worth it to them, since the Badgers wouldn’t take a financial loss.
2) They are the team that needs a boost in Strength of Schedule. The old adage goes: “beggars can’t be choosers.” Well, the Horned Frogs certainly think they can.
You don’t think I should call them beggars? Since they complain about not getting into the Championship Game, then yes, they are beggars. Wisconsin offered them a shot to really boost their SOS for 2011, but they refused. (The rest of TCU’s non-conference schedule includes Baylor, Louisiana-Monroe, and Portland State. They have a lower-tier Big 12 opponent, a Sun Belt opponent, and an FCS opponent, but they think they can turn down Wisconsin and still make the Championship game.)
And seeing as how their conference schedule only includes one team that finished in the AP Top 25, I would think they would have realized they need stronger non-conference games.
Let’s also not forget that in 2012 TCU gains AQ status with the move to the Big East. Not much better—as far as the Championship game is concerned. But it is at least a step in the right direction as far as the BCS is concerned. Thus, TCU does not necessarily need Wisconsin on their 2012 schedule. Cincinnati might disagree with them, but Cincy didn’t have the benefit of starting the season as highly ranked as TCU.
TCU would most likely start ahead of unexpected teams like 2010 Auburn and Oregon. Given AQ status, TCU is more likely to hold that spot as long as they don’t lose (at least hold it against Oregon last year, maybe not Auburn).
So TCU needs to play Wisconsin in 2011 to bump up the horrendous non-conference and conference schedule, but they don’t necessarily need them in 2012. Therefore, why not play (and beat, as they think they can) Wisconsin at Wisconsin in 2011 without worrying about a 2012 game? After all, if they beat Wisconsin twice including at Camp Randall, why even bother with a third game?
Ultimately, as everyone knows, what is keeping teams like Boise and TCU from being able to say that they truly deserve a shot at the National Championship is their poor schedule. And who is to blame for that?
Not the computers. Not the human polls. Not the system.
The blame falls on the Athletic Directors who refuse to back up the “anytime, anywhere” claim and schedule multiple (or in the 2011 schedules’ case, one) tough games.
So hey, TCU and Boise fans. Don’t gripe and complain about the BCS. Instead, shoot the blame to the respective ADs who know how the system works—but refuse, time and again, to adapt to it.