I am going to tell this one like it is. The BCS tried to save itself by putting Boise State and TCU in the Fiesta Bowl. Of the 10 teams in the BCS bowl games, Boise and TCU were the only teams that were from non-BCS conferences. Such teams have had mixed results in the past. Boise State beat Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, Hawaii got crushed by Georgia in the 2008 Sugar Bowl, and Utah beat Alabama handily in the 2009 Sugar Bowl.
Therefore, going into the 2009 BCS Bowl season, the non-BCS conferences were 2-1 in the last 3 BCS bowl appearances. In each of these games, the non-BCS conference team was undefeated, but did not get to play for a National Championship. This trend has led many to ratchet up the debate and controversy about whether the current BCS postseason system is fair and justified in its treatment of non-BCS conference schools. There has been increased support of a playoff system (I myself have designed and advocated a 12 team playoff system. See December 2nd, “Why College Football Needs a Playoff System…and Why an 8 Team System is not the Answer”).
When this year’s BCS selections were made, and there were two non-BCS conference schools that were undefeated, I knew those BCS weasels were going to match the two up in the same bowl game. Basically, this move was to save the BCS from any unnecessary criticism. If either TCU or Boise State had beaten a major conference school in a bowl game, the fans would be criticizing the BCS, calling for a playoff system, and calling for a split National Championship. The same criticism occurred in the 2006-2007 and the 2008-2009 season after BCS bowl victories by Boise State and Utah, respectively.
So, what to do to avoid any criticism? Put them both in the Fiesta Bowl. The game could not have gone any better for the BCS, and it makes me sick. It was a very low scoring game, so the fans do not know whether or not the defenses were very good, or if the offenses were terrible and could not hang with the top conference teams. In addition, because the game was very close, there won’t be much controversy about a split National Championship. For example, if TCU won by 20 or more, some people would argued that the Horned Frogs deserved a chance to play in the National Championship over Texas who somewhat snuck in with an unimpressive victory over Nebraska. However, since the game was close, and neither team looked very stellar, the BCS avoided a potentially damaging situation by putting TCU and Boise State in the same bowl game.
The fans will never really know how good either of these teams are, and that is the true shame of the whole situation. Contrary to the beliefs of the committee members of the BCS, the fans’ top priority is not to criticize the system. The fans simply want to see good football games, reward the best teams, and be respected as fans. However, the BCS did not respect the fans in this instance, but instead duped the fans out of two good games. The BCS duped the fans and the rest of college football out of learning how good TCU and Boise really were. If the BCS really was trying to be fair and was confident in the system, the committee would have no problem letting the non-BCS qualifiers play against the big name teams. Now do I think TCU or Boise State could have hung with, say, Ohio State? I really don’t know, and that is the point. The only way to find out how good one of these teams are is to place them against a perennial powerhouse. If they get crushed, then they get crushed, but at least we know how good the teams really were. Now all we know is that Boise State can beat the next best non-BCS conference team. Great, there is one of those teams each year. But what fans do not always get to see is the small, non-BCS team play against the big name teams. That is why everyone has loved watching those games over the past 3 years.
Until the BCS is either ousted or its ideology is changed significantly, college football fans will continue to see the smaller teams like Boise State get the raw deal so that the BCS will not have to change. It is extremely frustrating, and the only way to change the way things are run is to take active steps to change the system.