In the preseason poll, to kickoff the 2008 college football season, Utah, TCU and Boise State were nowhere to be found. Still, the three spent all of last season scratching and fighting their way up the polls. Even with a perfect season (13-0) Utah only managed to finish ranked number four in the final Coaches’ poll… TCU was ranked No. 7 after an 11-2 season… Boise State, 12-1 and No. 13. Kudos to the trio for a job well done. But what is their reward? Pretty much back to square one, sadly.
Now, I don’t particularly love the BCS format where the two participants in the Championship Game are essentially chosen by popular vote. (Yeah, they include computer rankings into their formula, but have continued to tweak those over the years to the point where they no longer have any real influence, especially since the final “human vote” can easily be manipulated on the final day of voting. They are essentially a non-factor.) But at least I could live with it if everyone started from a level playing field, which they don’t.
It’s nearly impossible for a team who is not ranked highly today to reach the top two spots at the end of the season. Let’s take Utah. They are ranked No. 18 in the preseason coaches’ poll, released today, that kick-starts the whole BCS process. Suppose they once against run the table. Are they going to pass Florida, Texas, USC, Ohio State or Virginia Tech (all currently ranked in the top 7) if two of those teams also go undefeated? Not a chance. And if those teams aren’t among the unbeaten, there’s still the likes of Oklahoma, Alabama, Penn State, Cal and Georgia Tech, just to name a few, who are currently ranked higher than the Utes.
In other words, Utah is already at a severe disadvantage to make the BCS Championship Game, even if they win out – and that’s before the “human factor” rears its ugly head. So why don’t we just start this year where last year left off?
Florida won the title, so they should still be No. 1 – and they are. None of the other top 6 teams dropped out of the top 6, even with varying numbers of graduating starters. So why can’t Utah start the season at No. 4, where they ended last year? If they’re not really that good, all it takes is one loss to send them plummeting out of the polls altogether. But if they are, why not let the team build on what they earned on the field last season? Why take it away before a single ball has been snapped? What is the “system” so afraid of?
Let the BS – er, BCS – begin!