TCU/Boise St. Championship will end hopes for all mid-majors.

The chorus of hate directed at the BCS has often pointed to a particular scenario for leading to the systems downfall: a non-BCS school playing for or actually winning a BCS title. My contention has long been that this is an errant assumption. In reality, nothing would do more to strengthen the clout of the system than an undefeated TCU or Boise State making it to the big game. It would prove that the system works far more than it would jeopardize its very existence.

But ponder with me the bedlam that could ensue if an unlikely, yet not unfathomable scenario were to play out for this year’s BCS picture. If all the pieces fall into place, TCU and Boise State’s own success could ensure that a mid-major team if forever shut out of the title picture.

Both BCS supporters and detractors agree that the current system is held in place by one juggernaut of a factor: money. Big schools, big conferences, big bowls and big TV all don’t want to give up their slice of the pie. But suppose the Ws and Ls play out this year so that there is no choice. Suppose Oregon slips against either currently #18 Arizona and/or at Oregon State. Likewise, suppose Auburn drops a game to one or more of tough games against cross-division rival Georgia, at arch-nemesis Alabama, or in the SEC Championship game against a South Carolina team the Tigers barely beat at home earlier in the season.

The stage will then be set for a Horned Frogs vs. Broncos National Title game in Glendale, Arizona. Sound fabulous? To quote the clown of Saturday mornings, “not so fast.” What will be the viewership of a game that lacks national fan base teams? Without an Ohio State, an Oklahoma, a USC, who is going to watch this game? In a year where the Championship matches small schools, will the National Championship telecast even draw an audience equivalent to regular season match-ups between Michigan and Ohio State or USC and Notre Dame?

But suppose it doesn’t stop there. In a year in which many traditional powerhouse schools are not performing up to par, we could see an entire slate of BCS bowls without a marque game. Unranked Pitt is already on track to win the Big East and play in a BCS game. Likewise for #14 Michigan State in the Big Ten. What if Oregon drops both its games against Arizona and Oregon State? Suppose Maryland wins out its schedule (not unfathomable) and takes the ACC title. Suppose Oklahoma State drops games in Austin against a Texas team that dethroned Nebraska, and again in Norman against #16 Oklahoma. Suppose then-Big 12 South Champion Baylor manages to put away the Huskers in a close Big 12 title game.

Here’s your BCS picture:

Championship: TCU vs. Boise State
Rose Bowl: Michigan State vs. Stanford
Fiesta Bowl: Baylor vs. Pitt or At Large
Orange Bowl: Maryland vs. Pitt or At Large
Sugar Bowl: South Carolina vs. Pitt or At Large

Do any of those games sound exciting? Will you be clearing your schedule for Pitt vs. Baylor? Looking at the current top 25, the most exciting prospect for a game would be LSU vs. Maryland, which wouldn’t even merit an ESPN Gameday visit in the regular season.

Now of course, these games will still be watched by certain constituencies. The University faithful will make time to see the game, as will those of us with the college football addiction that makes us tune in for a Friday night BYU vs. Utah St. contest. But outside of that, who is going to really be watching? What will happen to advertising revenue? What happens to the school’s cuts of the profits? Really, in such a scenario, even if the only game that plays out like this is a TCU vs. Boise State title game, the BCS and other stake-holders aren’t going to be encouraged to degrade their payday in future years. No one is going to want to help these teams get back to the same position. In fact, I’d venture the guess that the BCS rules will be changed again to make it even harder for these teams to get a shot (although that likely won’t be necessary since human poll voters will be less likely to help them there as well).

But, of course, the flip side of the coin is that regardless of your position in the FBS pecking order, you play the game to win championships. BSU and TCU, despite the implications on their future title hopes, are going to try to get to the title game and do everything they can to win it, as well they should. But if they are set-up for a title contest, they had better make it count. It’s going to be a long time before they get another shot.

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2 Comments

  1. Posted November 8, 2010 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

    With there being the whiff of AG investigation into anti-competitive practices, the BCS dare not boot smaller conferences. Meaning if they don’t like the system, they have to move in the direction of a playoff. I could live with that.

  2. Posted November 9, 2010 at 6:21 am | Permalink

    More evidence that major college football should either go to a playoff or disappear. Personally, I don’t think this scenario is going to happen. The NCAA apparently has a record of breathing down the necks of the computer pollsters to change their algorithms to conform to conventional wisdom. My feeling is that the deck will be stacked to make sure that no more than one at-large team is in the title game come hell or high water.

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