November 7, 2013; Stanford, CA, USA; Stanford Cardinal defensive tackle David Parry (58) celebrates after forcing a fumble by Oregon Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota (8, hidden) during the third quarter at Stanford Stadium. Stanford defeated Oregon 26-20. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

College Football Rant: BCS Bowl Bias Robs the Pac-12


There is a cliché frequently utilized among proponents of the Bowl system that says college football is the best example of amateur sport because 35 teams finish the (post)season with a win.

That distinction may be apt, but a more accurate description is that college football awards 68 teams with a consolation prize. We argue for a tournament every year, and beginning next year, we will get our wish, sort of.

Unfortunately, we have seen the BCS deliver a system that rewards mediocrity within the power conferences. The AAC has no power teams, yet still gets their spot. Had Louisville run the table as it should have, they would likely be in place to get thumped by FSU in the championship game. The Big 10 has provided such mediocrity that Ohio State is perceived as a powerhouse. The same problem exists with the ACC and the Big 12.

Sagarin was supposed to provide an independent, blind adjudicator rewarding difficult schedules and punishing the bland, whack-a-mole scheduling so common in some conferences. Strength-of-schedule should have helped the Pac-12 secure a second BCS game this year; instead, the West Coast was robbed.

In case there is question to Pac-12 superiority, the SOS rankings nationally fell like this:

1.WSU

2. ASU

3. Utah

4. Stanford

5. Cal

6. UCLA

7. Colorado

Yup, the top seven most difficult schedules were in the Pac this year. The easiest schedule in the Pac-12 was Oregon’s at #28. The BCS Bowls awarded births to these teams (Sagarin rank and SOS in parenthesizes)

FSU (1, 63)

Auburn (6, 20)

Clemson (16, 55)

Ohio State (11, 57)

Alabama (2, 45)

Oklahoma (21, 44)

Baylor (5, 60)

UCF (39, 92)

Michigan State (7, 56)

Oregon is ranked #4 by Sagarin, but the late loss to Arizona removed a likely second BCS bowl for the Pac. MSU, Auburn, Baylor, FSU, and (God help us) UCF received automatic births. The AAC did not deserve one team, but contractual obligation require that the Knights participate.

The flaw in the BCS for the underdog (Oregon) was the selection following automatic bids. No one can argue that Bama deserved to be left in the cold, but easy schedules allowed for Ohio State, Oklahoma and Clemson to march into second BCS games mainly on name recognition. This decision by the bowls lost each Pac-12 team nearly $1 million.

Luckily the Pac-12 was able to send all their eligible teams to bowl games, but this robbery of Oregon could have also left one of those teams wondering what happened.

Next season we see a four game playoff. The benefit will be that more is determined on the field, but we will inevitably have a glut of one loss teams trying to make their argument for inclusion.

The inherent politics in college athletics is going to become more important in the coming years, and the Pac will have to start playing with the big boys if the statistical reality of conference strength is to penetrate the brains of the East Coast voters. Had a playoff been present this year, Stanford could have been left out of the mix.

Whatever arguments are to be made, we bid farewell to the BCS this year, and usher in the playoff we had all hoped for next year. Someday we will get to a sixteen team playoff, and teams with three loses will make their cases, but this year we are presented with a one loss SEC champion playing an undefeated champion from an undoubtedly weak ACC. It could be worse, we could be seeing the Buckeyes.

The present system leaves us with this: The true National Championships were played at Autzen and Jordan-Hare Stadiums during the regular season, and a shell of those great games will be delivered to us after the new year. Enjoy.

Tags: BCS Bowls Football Pac-12 Washington State Cougars

  • lawl at this article

    You’re incredibly naive and this entire piece is misguided. Why do you think the Sugar took OU over Oregon? Money talks. Norman is much closer than Eugene, and OU’s fans travel as well as any program in the nation. Oregon (despite it being a close game) got embarrassed by Stanford when they finally played a real defense, and lost to a sub-par Arizona team…..and you say they were “robbed”……if you somehow think the mere SOS rankings are a huge criteria in the BCS choosing teams, you need to wake up.

    I am surprised at your naivete regarding the SOS rankings as well. There are so many factors and potential room for overfitting statistically speaking that those rankings have to be looked at with a grain of salt. There are so many ways in which we can evaluate how “strong” someone’s schedule is. What if my team plays the #1 team in the nation, and they have 3 major injuries? Do the excel spreadsheets factor that in? What if I play a team in week 2 that is ranked #12 and they end up unranked? What about the weather the day of the game, and one team throws the ball more than the other? You’re incredibly misguided to bluntly throw stats around, as if they can strongly be used to bolster one team’s argument over the other. Stats such as these certainly have their place, but you’re relying on them wayyyyyyyyy too much. Your idealism is quite evident.

    • http://Allcougdup.com/ AllCoug’dUp (Joshua Davis)

      Hmmm. Funny that you should say stats have their place, but only where you want them to be relevant. If we’re talking about “embarrassing” losses, I think Texas and Baylor qualify. In fact I think we just saw how good a defense Texas actually has… and yeah, the Sooners scored as much on Texas as Oregon scored on Stanford.

      Strength of schedule is all we have to base these two teams off of, since their losses are practically the same. Injuries also mean nothing in this situation, or any situation for that matter. Every team deals with injuries and if you want to talk about them, the Ducks were without arguably the most electric player in the nation for 4 weeks. Before that Stanford game we learned that Mariota was playing on one leg. Yup there goes that argument.

      Pretty sure Mariota is a better sell than Blake Bell. Pretty sure De’Anthony Thomas is a better sell than anyone on OU’s offense. The only argument that holds weight here is that the OU fan base will travel to the game in droves because it’s close. Make no mistake though, Oregon travels as well as anybody in the country.

      • http://Allcougdup.com/ AllCoug’dUp (Joshua Davis)

        I will say we don’t think OU doesn’t deserve it. It’s not about that. It’s about the BCS squeezing out the better choice because of a bias preferential to big markets. You were absolutely correct when you said $$$ talks.

        • lawl at this article

          Yes yes about the money…..and let me be clear about the injury talk. I was not trying to apply that to the Oregon/OU comparison (I honestly think those two teams are about the same), but rather using injuries and other intangible factors along with SOS generally. I’m not here to compare OU and Oregon and the injuries they’ve had along the way, their offensive weapons, or their QB’s (btw, Mariota is incredibly overrated, as is every Oregon QB as of late). I want to critique the gross reliance on numbers that the author (and many other media pundits) of this piece clings to. Oh I totally agree on OU, I mean they are average this year….average QB play, a sub-par 0-line, but I will say they have fast skill guys that could easily run with Thomas and Huff (namely Sterling Shephard and Jalen Saunders).

          Also about Oregon and “electricity”……..I mean, we saw what happened to their cute offense when they finally played someone. Thomas is incredibly under-sized, Josh Huff was crying on the sidelines, and Oregon’s front-7 was a JOKE trying to stop Stanford’s run game. A complete joke. What would Alabama do to Oregon? Hahaha I can only imagine…..not saying it’ll be all that better on OU, but all I’m saying is Oregon’s gimmicky offense has seem to have gotten stifled as of late when they actually play good defenses (and yes, the Pac-12 lacks good defenses largely speaking).

          Don’t start with “Well, ASU had the # whatever ranked D, and UCLA has # whatever ranked D…” Doesn’t matter, those rankings can be statistically over-fitted EASILY. So so so so many intangible factors.

  • http://twistedmuser.com/ Twisted Muser

    WAHHAHAHHAH!

  • lawl at this article

    Also, Oregon does travel well, but not as well as OU, Alabama, Nebraska, or Notre Dame. Oregon returned tickets at least year’s fiesta bowl.