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Here's another fine mess...

   by Larry Ness - 11/11/2004

CFB NOTES

No one made me laugh any harder as a kid than Laurel and Hardy. As the college football season enters its final few weekends I quote the immortal words of Oliver Hardy, "Here's another fine mess you've gotten us into". The problem being, is that there's nothing to laugh about when it comes to the current situation. Then again, maybe there's nothing else left to do but laugh?...

Start with the fact that the bowl season consists of 28 games, meaning 56 of the nation's 117 Division 1-A schools are considered bowl-worthy. Talk about taking only the best-of-best! Finish among the top 47.9 percent of the schools playing Division 1-A football and YOU'RE IN! How's that for an EXCLUSIVE CLUB! If only it were that easy to get invited to be a member at Augusta!...

The sad fact is that with less than a month left in the season, only 36 schools have reached the six-win threshold required for bowl participation. That means there are 20 spots still to be filled. This year, more than ever, it looks as if major conferences will have trouble providing teams for their tie-ins....

And guess why they are having trouble? Teams this year are only playing an 11-game schedule (only Hawaii, USC and Va Tech will play a 12-game schedule) meaning a school actually needs to be above .500 to qualify for a bowl bid! IMAGINE THAT!
How dare the system require teams to go at least 6-5 before being rewarded with a bowl game!...

Last year, Northern Illinois of the MAC went 10-2 with wins over BCS schools Alabama, Iowa St and Maryland, yet sat at home during the bowl season. This year there is talk of a bidding war over Akron (please tell me Gerry Faust ISN'T still that school's coach!). Better yet, the most sought after free agent these days seems to be Navy (please tell me Roger Staubach IS still that school's QB!)....

Now to the BCS....Prior to the opening of play this year the decision was made to put more emphasis on the so-called human polls, that being the AP poll (writers) and the ESPN/USA Today poll (coaches). Conventional wisdom seemed to think that this was good. If you've read me before, you know I disagree. Here's just one example of why?...

In the latest BCS standings, Texas moved past Utah into the No. 6 spot. Utah, at No. 7, is now one spot shy of being assured a BCS Bowl invite. Let's assume that NONE of the nation's top teams lose the rest of the way, as the coaches get set to cast their final votes....

If Texas remains at No. 6 and Utah No. 7, the Longhorns would get the final at-large BCS bid and with it, its $14 million payout which is shared by the entire Big-12 conference. Now riddle me this. Which school do you think the six Big-12 coaches with votes in the coaches' poll would vote for? Thank God they've eliminated the computer geeks, in favor of the REAL experts!

There are many nightmare scenarios ahead for the BCS and the dominoes could start falling this Saturday. Here's just a few that could EASILY happen and all could prevent an 11-0 Utah team from making it to a BCS Bowl....

In the ACC....Miami has already lost to North Carolina and Clemson. The Tar Heels are 4-5 and have already lost to Virginia 56-24, Louisville 34-0, Fla State 38-16 and to Utah 46-16. Clemson is 5-4, having endured a four-game losing streak this year to Ga Tech, Texas A&M, Fla St and Virginia. However, if the Hurricanes win at Virginia on Saturday and follow that with home wins over Wake Forest and Va Tech, they get the automatic BCS bid as ACC champs....

In the (watered-down) Big East....If Boston College wins at West Virginia on Saturday, all that stands in the Eagles' way of a BCS Bowl is a road game at Temple and a home game with Syracuse. BC has lost to Wake Forest and Pitt this year plus owns a less than convincing win at Ball St (19-11)....

In the SEC....Let Georgia win at Auburn and then as expected, Tennessee end its season by beating Vandy (the Vols own 21 straight wins over the Commodores) and Kentucky (the Vols have beaten the Wildcats 19 straight times). That would mean the best and highest-ranked team in the SEC (Georgia) would be left out of the SEC title game where the winner gets the automatic BCS bid. Let Tennessee beat Auburn in that title game and a team (possibly led by Rick Clasuen at QB) with two losses (Auburn and Notre Dame) gets one of the eight BCS bowl bids. I won't even mention Tennessee's officials-aided 30-28 win over Florida or its wins over Mississippi (21-17) and Alabama (17-13)....

These scenarios could all leave Utah "out in the cold" with less-deserving teams (and their leagues!) getting one of those coveted $14 million dollar pay-outs. However, the "doomsday" scenario of all-time would occur, if one of those garbage teams from the Big-12 North upsets Oklahoma in the Big-12 title game. It's too painful and would just take up too much space to list how bad it would be if a Big-12 North representative was to garner a BCS Bowl bid....

Now maybe NONE of these things will happen (surely they ALL won't!) but college football higher-ups must at least be a little concerned! They still have to worry that unlike last year when at this time there were just two major unbeatens in Oklahoma and TCU (and the Horned Frogs were not a threat to the BCS top-six!), this year there are SIX major unbeatens!...

USC and Oklahoma will most likely win-out. However, if Auburn also beats Georgia, Alabama (in Tuscaloosa) and Tennessee (SEC title game) and Wisconsin wins its final two at Michigan State and Iowa, this year's uproar over the final BCS standings will make last year's controversy look like....fill in you own description.


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