BCS "Controversy"

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The first BCS Standings came out this week and didn't waste any time in provoking my annual BCS rant.

The sports pundits are in an uproar. The problem: Miami, not Oklahoma is #2 behind USC. Why should Okalhoma be there instead of Miami? Because Okalhoma is the consensus #2 team in the polls. As usual, my fury is not with the BCS as much as with the manner in which the system is treated by many who should know better.

Still, in trying to be open-minded I'm searching for a reason, any reason, that Okalhoma should be ahead of Miami. And no, the fact that a bunch of self-important writers and coaches whose heads are necessarily buried in their own team and own team's opponents at this time of year think so doesn't count.

Let's see ...

W/L Record: Oklahoma: 6-0, Miami: 5-0. The difference is irrelevant. By the end of the season both will have played 11. Both are unblemished.

Wins over ranked opponents: Oklahoma: #8 Texas, Miami: #5 Florida State, #15 Louisville. This is dealing exclusively with polls, and their built-in Big 12 bias. Like Okalhoma, Texas doesn't show as well in the BCS Standings which include with polls, some factors that are subjective. Texas is #8 and #9 in the human polls, but #11 in the BCS Standings. So, is Miami a Florida State caliber win ahead of Oklahoma, or a Louisville caliber win ahead of them? I suggest that it is closer to the latter, but to be fair let's split the difference. Texas is clearly not on par with FSU this year, but I'll be willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and say that they are better than Louisville.

What do computers know?: OK, this is the one used by those who somehow feel like human beings know any better. Fine, let's toss out anything objective and have a look at the thing.

Oklahoma: Opponents combined W/L (19-17). All home games except last weekend's victory at Kansas State (2-4). And really, the only game you can point to to argue that Oklahoma is the bomb is the Texas shut out. Oregon looks good on the surface because the Ducks were once BCS quality. This year they are 3-3 in the weak Pac 10. Ditto for K State. This year they are 2-4 in the laughable BIg 12 North. The 2 wins ... Western Kentucky and Louisiana-Lafayette.

Miami: Opponents combined W/L (17-12). 3 Home Games, and 2 Road. Admittedly, their two key games, FSU and Louisville were played in the Orange Bowl. However, Georgia Tech in Atlanta counts as a reasonably strong road win for which Oklahoma has no match.

Here's the rub with Miami: They beat Florida State in overtime and Louisville in the last minute of the game. You can't totally discount the quality of the victory. Again, Oklahoma hasn't played anyone that rivals Florida State, and they struggled with Kansas State. If you want to go there you have to weigh quality of win and quality of opponent for both teams. You can't just say "Miami struggled with Louisville so Oklahoma should be #2."

And that brings us to the core of the issue. The sports talking heads are so hot for the Big 12 that the concept of a BCS Standings without Oklahoma, Texas or Nebraska (LOL) in one of the top two spots is inconceivable and amounts to a national emergency.

You think Oklahoma should be #2 over Miami, fine. Tell us why. And the fact that they are a consensus #2 in the polls that you are part of doesn't count. "Because we said so," isn't good enough.

It has become fashionable to bash the BCS because of very direct injustices - teams being passed over by opponents they had beaten head-to-head, and teams making the BCS championship despite not playing in, or being annhilated in their conference championship game (eg. OKLAHOMA and NEBRASKA!). I guess we should also include teams being invited to BCS bowls because they are Notre Dame. The point is, there is no direct injustice here. You can make a case for either team. I maintain that it is easier to make Miami's case, but that is somewhat subjective.

Finally, the enlightened talking heads calmly explain that this problem will work itself out. Again, the implication that there is a problem to be worked out. But beyond that, one has to ask, "How?" Miami still has games against ranked teams Virginia (#14), and Virginia Tech (#23) remaining, along with respectable games with NC State and Wake Forest. Oklahoma still has Texas A&M (#17) and Oklahoma State (#22) along with Kansas and Nebraska who are .500 or better so far. Everyone points to the Big 12 Championship game, but with the way the North Division is going, there is no guarantee that that will help Oklahoma's cause this year. The remaining schedules don't seem to offer one team a distinct advantage over the other.

I've never understood this year's BCS tweak: let's get rid of the objective strength of schedule element so that the human factor can be more prominent. Humans came up with this train wreck to begin with, and humans continue to believe, despite annual evidence to the contrary, that with the right adjustments it can somehow work.


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