The USC Trojans may have the Oklahoma State Cowboys to thank for their bid to the Orange Bowl — indeed, for their inclusion in any BCS bowl.
Why? Think back to the last two weekends of game action. USC had only one game during that time (the little scrimmage where we crushed Notre Dame, 44-13), but there were seven other major games in which Trojan fans were hoping for upsets: Miami vs. Syracuse, Georgia vs. Georgia Tech, Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State, Miami vs. Virginia Tech, Washington State vs. UCLA, Georgia vs. Arkansas, and Oklahoma vs. Colorado. Only the Oklahoma-Oklahoma State game turned out the way we wanted it to — the Cowboys won, 38-28 — but that one upset proved to be enough.
If the Sooners had beaten the Cowboys, and had gone on to defeat Colorado as they did on Saturday, they would have been ranked #3 in the final BCS standings, bumping the Trojans out of the BCS “guarantee zone.” In fact, USC — which, in reality, finished #4 — very likely would have fallen all the way back to #6 because, BCS math being what it is, a higher-ranked Oklahoma probably would have allowed Iowa to stay ahead of the Trojans.
Now, imagine if USC had finished #6, and everything else had stayed the same. Would the Orange Bowl, with its first pick, have chosen the #6 Trojans? I doubt it. They might have picked Iowa and Oklahoma (the Sooners would have been a much more attractive team under those circumstances, 12-1 instead of 11-2 and #3 instead of #7), or perhaps Oklahoma and Notre Dame. Or they might have picked Iowa and Notre Dame, or Iowa and Kansas State. Under any of those scenarios except the first one, USC definitely would have been locked out of the BCS altogether, and even with an Iowa-Oklahoma Orange Bowl, there’s no guarantee the Trojans would have landed anywhere other than the Holiday Bowl. (Had the Orange Bowl taken the Hawkeyes and Sooners, the Rose Bowl would have been forced, if it wanted to keep the Trojans in the BCS, to choose between a Washington State-USC matchup and a Washington State-Florida State matchup, neither of which would have been terribly attractive. Can you say Washington State-Notre Dame?)
So, in conclusion, Trojan fans should thank their lucky stars the Cowboys beat the Sooners.
Here, by the way, are the final BCS standings. And here’s an article about Iowa QB Brad Banks’s narrow win over Carson Palmer for Associated Press Player of the Year. Imagine how heated the USC-Iowa game will be if they finish #1 and #2 (in either order) in the Heisman balloting, too!
Oh yeah, and UCLA coach Bob Toledo got canned today.
UPDATE, 5:44 PM: Major kudos to West Virginia’s coach for griping loudly about Notre Dame’s unfair special status. He’s right; the Irish shouldn’t just be assumed to be as good as the #2 team in a major conference when they haven’t proven it. Their record against the Big East was 2-1, and one of the two wins was against Rutgers. Truth be told, Notre Dame proved very little this year — they lost to Boston College, for goodness’ sake, and got squashed by the only Top Ten team they faced (that would be us). Their only real quality wins were against Michigan and Florida State, both of which are good but not great teams. Yet if it weren’t for Washington State’s win over UCLA, that probably would have been enough to get them into the BCS. And even as things stand now, they’re bumping quality teams to “earn” a quality bowl berth. Not fair, people. Simply not fair.
So let’s get real: college football needs to reform itself from top to bottom. Postseason honors should never be doled out based on money, reputation, or attendance figures. NEVER. It’s wrong, and it’s disgusting, and it’s antithetical to the very idea of athletic competition. This situation, and a couple of other bowl fiascos around the country, prove that the problems go beyond simply the BCS. The sport’s ruling weasels need to put their heads together and come up with a better system, because the one they have now just isn’t working.
Speaking of which, let’s get one thing straight. The fact that two undefeated teams are playing for the national championship this year does NOT vindicate the BCS system. It vindicates the idea of staging a #1 vs. #2 matchup regardless of conference tie-ins, yes. But it does not vindicate the BCS computer formula, or the BCS politicking, or any of the rest of it. The fact is, a selection committee made up of monkeys and chimpanzees could successfully pick a championship game when two teams go undefeated. This isn’t rocket science. So enough with the BCasS-kissing, please. College football still needs a playoff. (You know why? Because USC could beat Miami and Ohio State if we had the chance. That’s why.)