No right answer to BCS controversy
With six one-loss teams, the BCS is headed for another messy conclusion
Under the current system, too much pressure is being put on the poll voters
A playoff won't happen, but a plus-one would be a step in the right direction
Another year, another BCS controversy. But there's something different and uncomfortable about the quandary facing voters this season: There is no right answer.
As messy as last season ended, with the BCS' top two teams (Missouri and West Virginia) losing on the last night of the regular season, voters rightfully tapped LSU to play for the national championship. That's because the Tigers, with their SEC championship and their 48-7 win over ACC champion Virginia Tech earlier in the season, simply had a better résumé than the other contenders.
While the 11th-hour switcheroo of Florida over Michigan two years ago caused no shortage of consternation, again, it was the right thing to do. The Gators had won their conference and beaten more ranked teams and more bowl-eligible teams than the Wolverines.
However, when it comes to the current conundrum regarding Texas and Oklahoma -- two teams from the same conference with the same record involved in a three-way tie with another team, Texas Tech, against which they split -- there is no right answer. Period.
The BCS computers chose Oklahoma, despite the fact that Texas finished ahead of the Sooners in the human polls and beat them on the field. That's what happens when you have an imperfect system -- some deserving team gets left out.
"In the end, there are arguments for and against all the teams, but if you can't rank us ahead of Texas, then you've got to leave Tech ahead of Texas," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said last week.
Since when were voters faced with the chore of deciding a conference's division winner? They didn't sign up for that.
"In 2004, I was criticized for saying I thought our team was good enough to be in a BCS game and, my gosh, I was [called] a politician and a whiner," Texas coach Mack Brown said. "Now, what the system's doing, it's making coaches talk about why their team should be voted, and that's very unfair to the coaches."
The whole thing has to be particularly uncomfortable for administers of the coaches poll, whose members are essentially judging their peers, some of whom have loyalty to or axes to grind with the parties involved. Did we mention that Texas' Brown has a vote in this thing but Stoops, by his own choosing, does not?
And who's to say the controversy will end solely with the Big 12 conundrum? It may be just the beginning.
If you thought last year's race -- where voters were left to choose between at least five two-loss teams to face one-loss Ohio State -- was convoluted, take a look at the mess we might be dealing with this year.
During the first 10 years of the BCS, the average number of undefeated or one-loss BCS-conference teams at the conclusion of the regular season was 4.6. If This season we could have seven one-loss teams.
How on earth can anyone authoritatively identify the two best teams in that scenario?
If Alabama does lose to Florida (and before you blitzkrieg me, Tide fans, by no means do I think that's a foregone conclusion), it would mark the second-straight year that no major-conference team finished undefeated, something that happened only once in the previous nine years of the BCS (in 2003).
Is it any coincidence that all three instances took place during 12-game regular seasons?
With the 12-game season (13 for those with conference championship games) here to stay, the trend toward greater BCS ambiguity isn't going to disappear, either. It may well be that the 2005 Texas-USC classic was the last time we'll see a matchup of two undisputed, undefeated participants.