Monday, September 7, 2009


With the various BCS debates raging on, staunch BCS supporters are now turning to a new line of reasoning to justify excluding the Mountain West Conference (MWC) from being an automatic qualifying conference: overall conference strength. In 2008, the MWC champion and runner-up were ranked above the Big East and Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) champions. Naturally the question has followed: Is the MWC better than the Big East or the ACC? Most people seem satisfied that the ACC is clearly better than the MWC. However, when compared to the Big East, many feel that the MWC is slightly better on top (BYU, TCU, and Utah), but the bottom 2/3 of the Big East is better than the bottom 2/3 of the MWC. Therefore, the Big East automatic BCS bid is justified.

Can any other argument be more bogus? Name a “Big Six” conference that does not experience significant drop off after its top three teams.
  • ACC:
    The ACC has never fielded two BCS teams. Virginia Tech is the preseason favorite. A lot of people are high on Georgia Tech, and Florida State seems to be a quality team again. In this case, the drop off starts before we leave the top three teams. Only Virginia Tech is considered as good enough to play in a BCS game.
  • BIG 12:
    Texas and Oklahoma are neck and neck at the top of the conference, and this year Oklahoma State looks to be number three. After that, Texas Tech has a lot of question marks, and the whole North Division is closer to mediocrity than being contenders.
  • BIG 10:
    Historically, the Big 10 has been dominated by Ohio State and Michigan, with one other team always making a strong showing. The rest are not considered competition. Why else is everyone assuming the Big 10 race title will be decided by an undefeated Penn State playing undefeated Ohio State (at least undefeated in conference play)?
  • PAC-10:
    USC is the undisputed number one followed by Oregon and Cal. Again, the drop off starts immediately. That is more because USC is so dominant and not so much because Oregon and Cal are weak. Is there any other Pac-10 team that you expect to post more than 8 wins?
    The parity in the Big East is so great, how do you start with three teams as the top three? I guess West Virginia, Pittsburgh, and Rutgers are the three best, but is there much difference between them and South Florida, Cincinnati, and Connecticut? This is not an all-star line up that screams “elite conference” to anybody.
  • SEC:
    Here you might have a case that beyond the top three. Florida, Ole Miss, and Alabama seem to be the top three this year, followed by Georgia, and LSU. The teams after that are not considered to be on the same plane.

The point is the BCS is about conference champions. The conference champions of these six conferences get automatic bids, not the third place team, the sixth place team, or the last place team. The champions are not scrutinized on who they lost to, either. They could lose to the worst team in the league or the second place team, it does not matter.

My biggest concern is that the MWC will fight this criticism by expanding to include Boise State. With all due respect to the Broncos, that is the wrong way to go. The MWC is good the way it is. As I have explained three strong teams at the top is as good as everyone else. It is time to stop the hypocrisy.

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