By I.C. Murrell
STILLWATER, Okla. —
I can’t blame Tommy Tuberville right now.
The new Texas Tech coach said during Big 12 Media Days if he had his way, one of his Auburn teams and Oklahoma would split the 2004 national championship if the NCAA rules it vacant due to rules violations.
It’s better than just letting one team have it at this point. For Auburn’s part, it would only be justice done six seasons after the fact; the Tigers remain the only clean, undefeated team.
The Bowl Championship Series did a disservice to Auburn that year. You know, some team was going to be left out. If not Oklahoma of the Big 12, Auburn of the Southeastern Conference. Strange.
Yet the Associated Press poll voters had to select the first-, second- and third-ranked teams. They knew it wasn’t right someone had to be left out, but their poll was a part of the equation back then.
Did that make it right some team would be left out?
Notice I didn’t ask, “If you like the BCS, is that right that a team gets left out?” or “If you like the (Sooners/Tigers), is that right a team gets left out?” so that your answer possibly will be altered.
Ask me either question, and my answer is no.
This is the controversy many thought would be avoided when the BCS was installed for the 1998 season. It sure helped, didn’t it?
If it did, I don’t think the current director of the BCS would speak at Big 12 Media Days on Tuesday.
I was a freshman in college when the BCS debuted, and I don’t think the idea of becoming a sports journalist entirely hit me at the time. But even then, it didn’t take much research for me to understand it’s just another flawed system, more flawed than the AP-UPI poll system before it.
Yet, what were some of Hancock’s opening statements?
“Ratings continue to be higher than the World Series. College football popularity is thriving. Truly the only sport where every game does count. View the postseason as a part of the whole pie of college football. Commissioners know it’s a tremendous risk to make any type of changes.”
OK, tell me something new.
Hancock said the playoff would become more important than the regular season if one were established. I say it’s not like anyone’s asking for a 68-team tournament, and even at that every college basketball regular-season game is as important as an NCAA tourney contest. The majority of fans just want one true national champion, that’s all.
As I sat among other Big 12 reporters, Hancock clarified that all 11 Football Bowl Subdivision conferences are BCS conferences, but only six of them — the Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-10, Big East, Atlantic Coast and Southeastern —have automatic qualifiers. One of the factors is the marketplace, he added.
No wonder why Boise State and Utah can’t catch a break.
When the Big 12 shrinks down to 10 in 2012, every team in the conference will likely have to play each other to determine a real conference champion. Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy has said he likes the idea.
Certainly this can’t be done with a full pool of FBS teams. But the BCS tends to leave a few undefeated teams out of the mix, so having Auburn play in a BCS game was all that being a BCS conference was good for in 2004.
That could have been the case with the Big 12.
So, I just plain asked Hancock: How can he defend leaving out a deserving team when, in some conferences, no one is left out in the regular season to determine a true champion?
“I hear that fairly often, and I totally get it, but the fact is every team has an opportunity either for their conference to earn a berth for them or for them to earn a berth on their own, and everybody is subject to the same standards.”
But there’s a problem. The same standards don’t always present the same result.
And by the way, teams want their own berths. That’s no secret.
Hancock gets that the BCS isn’t perfect. I don’t think he gets that it’s indefensible.
I.C. Murrell is the sports editor of the Stillwater NewsPress. He can be reached at 405-372-5000, extension 220, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.