How to fix the BCS; more mail (cont.)
Have the automatic qualifying conferences ordered the bowls to never again schedule Boise State against a school from one of the AQ conferences in a bowl? Last year, it was against the other BCS-buster, TCU. This year it's Utah. Doesn't Boise deserve the chance to play AQ schools in the bowls?
-- Dennis McCullough, Kansas City
This year's result was entirely Boise's choice -- and given its limited options, by far the best. Once the Broncos fell out of BCS contention, they were relegated to one of the WAC's bowls. Originally it looked like they'd be heading to the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl to face 7-5 Boston College. But both Boise and Nevada lobbied hard for the San Francisco bowl to take the Wolf Pack instead, and the WAC and ESPN brokered a deal that allowed the Broncos to fill the Pac-10's spot opposite 10-2 Utah in Vegas.
I know a lot of people are still fixated on AQ vs. non-AQ, but as far as I'm concerned, Boise proved far more by beating No. 4 TCU in a bowl game last year than it would have by playing Georgia Tech or Iowa. Facing a top 20, 10-2 Utah team that's heading to the Pac-10 is clearly more enticing than playing a 7-5 ACC team.
The Discover Orange Bowl? Maybe I'm a staunch defender of the sport's oldest traditions, but it will always be the FedEx Orange Bowl to me.
-- Jonathan Nolen, Chapel Hill, N.C.
Here, here brother. And I'm already nostalgic for the Rose Bowl presented by Citi era.
In the 13-year history of the BCS, has anyone ever had an easier path to the big game than Oregon? They have one victory against a Top 25 team (Stanford), they've defeated four bowl teams (five if USC is included) and their opponents' combined win/loss record is 54-69 (not including FCS Portland State). By the same token, has any team ever had a tougher path than Auburn? With South Carolina counting twice in each category, their résumé includes wins over six ranked teams, they defeated nine bowl teams and their opponents' record is 76-50 (not including FCS Chattanooga).
-- Thomas Coyne, Detroit
It's an excellent question, and one I can easily research thanks to the extensive archives kept by CollegeBCS.com's Jerry Palm -- the same man who uncovered the BCS' errant computer rankings this week. You're our hero, Jerry. Note that his strength-of-schedule records do not include FCS foes. For the other two criteria, I'm only counting ranked teams/bowl teams that title participants beat, not just played; I'm using final BCS standings to qualify teams as "ranked;" and I'm counting all bowl-eligible teams under "bowl" to account for the fact that there used to be fewer bowls.
|Hardest Path to Title Game During BCS Era|
Did Oregon have the easiest path to the BCS title game? It does look that way. The Ducks' opponents' .439 winning percentage is by far the lowest of the 26 title game participants. Only three other teams played just one ranked team and/or five bowl-eligible teams, most recently 2007 Ohio State. Having said that, I think you'd have to go with 1999 Virginia Tech, which had similar numbers to Oregon's but played in Palm's eighth-ranked conference that year (the Big East), whereas this year's Pac-10 rates second.
Meanwhile, Auburn's path wasn't the toughest, but it came awfully close. I'd put it no lower than third and arguably second. Its chief competitors were the 1998 and 2000 Florida State teams. Bobby Bowden's nonconference schedules back then would make current teams cry. That '98 team faced 11-2 Texas A&M, 9-2 Florida, 8-3 Miami and 8-4 USC. That team did lose a game (to 7-4 NC State), but it also played only five home games compared with eight for Auburn.
For the record, the team that played the tougher schedule has gone 5-7 in title games so far.
Bob Stoops has built a great program in Sooner land; however, I must ask the following question: Given his current 2-5 record (with five losses in a row) in BCS bowls, should OU lose to UConn in the Fiesta Bowl, how much longer will he be welcome in Norman?
-- Steve, Mansfield, Texas
As long as he keeps winning Big 12 titles more seasons than he doesn't (current rate: seven title seasons, five non-title seasons), he can be JoePa if he wants.
I have been reading your columns for years now and hold your opinion in the highest regards. So I ask you this on behalf of all the Minnesota fans out there that were hoping for a big name hire. What do you know about Jerry Kill, the new Minnesota head coach? Is he going to prove everyone wrong and win big consistently? All I want for Christmas is a trip to the Rose Bowl for the Gophers and to do it at least four more times in a 10-year span. Is that too much to ask?
-- Patrick, Maplewood, Minn.
Oh, you Gopher fans. At least now I understand the root of your overinflated expectations: none other than dysfunctional Minnesota AD Joel Maturi. Read this Q&A with the guy. It's stunning. He got everybody's blood pumping by proclaiming he was going to make another "Tubby Smith-type hire," so it's easy to understand why fans might feel let down with the hiring of Jerry Kill. Now Maturi is trying to backtrack, saying by "Tubby Smith-type hire" he meant, "somebody with the integrity of a Tubby Smith," not, you know, someone with a national title ring. He apparently made a go at Barry Alvarez (???) before admitting, "I knew we weren't going to get a BCS head coach."
The good news: Kill is more than a great name, he's a great coach. When someone's won big everywhere he's been, that's usually a good sign. He won big (38-14) at Division II Saginaw Valley State, he won big (producing a No. 1 ranked team) at I-AA Southern Illinois (five straight playoff appearances) and he won big, at least for a year, at Northern Illinois (10-3 this season). He's sort of a Brian Kelly/Chris Petersen type, having recruited at the small-school level where you have to find hidden gems that fit your system and coach them up. That's particularly important at a school like Minnesota that isn't going to win a lot of recruiting battles with Ohio State. Maturi managed to get out of his own way and make a solid hire.
Hey there Stewart
Just thought u should knop wtjta West Viriginia is no the Big eats champ./
-- John Fraser, Guilford, Conn.
My gosh, that must have been one heck of a party you guys threw Saturday night.
So, let's see if I have this one correct. Nebraska is going to the same bowl game that it went to last year, to play a team that it's already beaten this year by 34 points. If I'm a Nebraska fan, I might not even watch the game on TV after halftime, much less make the trip to San Diego. What are the Holiday Bowl people thinking?
-- Alex Wagner, Cottage Grove, Wis.
They didn't really have a choice. Nebraska, I'm told, begged off a possible Alamo Bowl rematch with last year's Holiday Bowl opponent, Arizona, so that bowl took Oklahoma State instead. It probably thought it had the Insight Bowl in the bag, but that game chose Missouri, partially because it passed over the Tigers last year and drew heat for it, partially to appease the Big 12 (which probably wouldn't be keen on two Big Ten schools playing in a Big 12 bowl). So that left the Holiday Bowl with either 10-2 Nebraska or a 7-5 team. And Washington was its only remaining Pac-10 choice.
But hey, it's good news for the Huskies. More often that not, non-BCS bowls come down to who wants to be there more, and in that department, it's about as lopsided in one direction as the teams' September meeting was in the other.
One of the things wrong with having a plethora of bowls: Stewart Mandel can write that Washington "is heading to San Diego," and readers don't necessarily know he means for the Holiday Bowl.
-- John H., Mount Prospect, Ill.
Yep. That pretty much sums it up.
SI Now Live Friday December 6, 2013
SI Now: "Lenny Cooke" documentary details a fallen prospect