OSU got hosed, and I feel fine…
6:03 AM EST on December 5, 2011
The BCS is the 1%.
After throttling the #10 ranked team in the country, all of the Big 12 region and a good portion of the rest of the U.S. felt Oklahoma State should get a shot at undefeated Louisiana State for the national title. That is not going to happen. Instead, there will be a re-match of the season's most exciting game where the Alabama Crimson Tide lost a thrilling 9-6 battle at home to LSU.
The arguments for Alabama getting the nod over Oklahoma State are numerous. Their one loss was against a team that remains undefeated, and they would have beaten LSU if their kicker and offense didn't suck. Also, Alabama has the greatest defense in the history of defense. Their defense is so good that only two teams with an offense rated in the top-85 of BCS schools even scheduled a game against the Tide this year. Alabama plays in the SEC--the world's best conference--a conference so strong that a full schedule against those schools netted the Tide the nation's 42 strongest strength of schedule. They beat three--THREE!--teams that won more games than they lost on the season.
Of course only one argument matters: Alabama is Alabama.
Anyone feeding into the controversy of the Cowboys being snubbed by the BCS is making a fundamental mistake. The BCS did what the BCS does because an illegitimate system breeds illegitimate results.
Officially, the purpose of system created by the Bowl Championship Series is to assure that five games have the best possible match-ups. Of course, by the ranking system that the Series devised, this season, 30% of their top 10 ranked teams will not get bids to play in those games. Instead, they protect the large conferences by giving the Big East an automatic bid despite their best team being classified at the 23rd best. Then, the second best team from the ACC (probably the fourth best conference) also snuck in. A third top-10 team was passed over so the team ranked #14 by their carefully crafted method could have an "at-large" invitation.
That last one truly symbolizes the BCS' true purpose. They snuck Michigan in over Boise State, Kansas State, and South Carolina. By no measure did Michigan have a better season than any of those three teams. Michigan played in a conference that boasted no marquee teams this season, yet they did not even play for the championship. However, unlike those three teams that the BCS rankings say deserved BCS bids, the Wolverines have a storied history. In essence, Michigan is playing in a BCS bowl because Michigan is Michigan.
This takes us back to the debate over who should have been ranked #2 and received the coveted opportunity to slay the LSU Tigers. From a storyline perspective, an OSU-LSU tilt would be ripe. Tigers' coach Les Miles left OSU because he did not think he could win a national title coming out of Stillwater. Now, his successor at coach and former protege leads his team to the cusp of the thing Miles saw as impossible. That's asking for a movie treatment, right? LSU boasts an intimidating defense and OSU boasts an offense that may be unstoppable. Meanwhile, an Alabama-LSU game has all the same boring stories that were told two months ago except now there is the "re-match" wrinkle.
Putting that aside, by blind resume Oklahoma State has the clear advantage. They beat twice as many top-25 ranked teams. They won the conference rated the strongest by objective measures. They played a top-10 strength of schedule, while their one loss came in double overtime on the day of a horrific tragedy affecting the school. And no one denies that they have best offense in the country.
The problem is that resumes in college football are a lot like resumes in the business world. In this case, with two similar resumes submitted, the Crimson Tide have theirs personally submitted by their valet and name at the top is similar to John D. Rockefeller, IV. Meanwhile, Oklahoma State has to get their application processed through the mailroom with a name that is super ethnic.
In the closest BCS ranking ever, Alabama got the nod based on politics and name recognition. Don't believe me? With a score seperated by .009, it came down to just a few votes. In the coaches poll that makes up 1/3 of the score, Mike Gundy was not one of the voters this year. Alabama coach Nick Saban, however, was. He voted OSU #4...you know because he has been inundated with questions about whether his team deserves to be ranked ahead of Stanford.
Two other coaches ranked OSU worse than third, as well. One was Gary Pinkel of Missouri, who to be fair may have done so because he filled his ballot out drunk--while drinking--and not because he wanted to score brownie points with the conference he will be joining next season. The other was the head coach of Air Force, a school that lobbied for entrance into the Big 12 and was denied. He ranked OSU 5th. Behind 2-loss Arkansas of the SEC.
With those votes flavoring the BCS kool aid, ESPN's Craig James complained last night while drinking it that the system gives 1/3 of their scoring over to computers. Computers, of course, don't factor in whether their vote gives their favorite team a slight advantage or if they were slighted somehow. They do not even consider that Alabama must be better than Oklahoma State because Alabama has historically been the better team. And, unlike several of the media voters, they don't vote completely contrary to public opinion strictly so larger media venues will invite them on their shows to defend their choices.
So, while the BCS crowns champions based on history and wealth, it is the fans that grant them the power to continue. By legitimizing the system, they can keep their Ponzi scheme going.
My hope is that Alabama does beat LSU (2-0, in triple-overtime) in the Mythical National Championship game. After that, I hope the media story is that Alabama deserves, at best, a share (you know, since they only split the season series) of the trophy. And if the Cowboys manage to take down Andrew Luck and Stanford in the Fiesta Glorified Scrimmage, it should certainly be a storm of controversy.
If that happens, I think the BCS will have to take a step toward something playoff-ish. And if that happens, I will trade my alma mater's shot at a meaningless crystal ball for the greater good.
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