Ohio State president E. Gordon Gee was the subject of controversy this week when he basically came out and said that schools like Boise State and TCU didn’t deserve to play in the National Championship game regardless of their undefeated status. Some of the quotes by Gee made to the Associated Press in a recent interview:
"...[H]aving been both a Southeastern Conference president and a Big Ten president, that it's like murderer's row every week for these schools. We do not play the Little Sisters of the Poor. We play very fine schools on any given day. So I think until a university runs through that gauntlet that there's some reason to believe that they not be the best teams to [be] in the big ballgame."
"If you put a gun to my head and said, 'What are you going to do about a playoff system [if] the BCS system as it now exists goes away?' I would vote immediately to go back to the bowl system."
(on Ohio State's run to the 2007 title game): "You know, it's a mystery. We were No. 1, then No. 11, then No. 7 and we ended up playing for the national championship. I think I kind of like that mixed-up mystery."
Now all things being equal, if Boise State, TCU, Oregon and Auburn all finish with undefeated seasons, I don’t think anyone can dispute that in the current setup that it should come down to Auburn and Oregon playing for the National Championship. They're in deeper conferences and play tougher schedules. It’s as simple as that. But should Auburn and/or Oregon lose one of their remaining games, to say that Boise State or TCU doesn’t even deserve to be in the conversation is ridiculous. Who deserves to go over them? LSU? They didn’t even win their division of their conference. Stanford? Oregon already demonstrated their superiority when they faced off earlier in the season. Someone from the Big 10? They all have at least 1 loss. How are any of these teams more qualified?
Over the past 3 seasons, TCU and Boise State have combined to lose 4 games. That's 4 games TOTAL between them. And 2 of those losses were in bowl games against one another over the past 2 years. The only other two losses were by TCU to Sam Bradford’s Oklahoma team in 2008, a team that would go on to play Florida in the National Championship game, and to Utah who would finish an undefeated 2008 season with a memorable 31-17 thrashing of Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. Their good records aren't because those teams didn’t play any serious competition either. Over the past three years, the two teams have beaten teams from the Pac 10 (Oregon State twice, Oregon twice, Stanford), Big 12 (Baylor), and ACC (Virginia, Clemson, Virginia Tech) and overall are 9-2 against ranked teams not counting their bowl games against one another. Ohio State over the same period of time? 8-5.
Now the quality that Boise State and TCU are producing may be more the exception than the rule. We saw a few years ago a Hawaii team go 12-0 and get a BCS bowl game where they were stomped 41-10 by Matt Stafford’s 2-loss Georgia team. But for every Hawaii, there’s a Utah beating Alabama, or a Boise State beating Oklahoma. In the 2005 Fietsa Bowl, non-BCS Utah beat Big East Champ Pitt 35-7. These teams CAN compete with the big boys. And the only way to ever REALLY see who the best team is, is to have a playoff. Sorry Mr. Gee, you’re not helping your case at all by saying that you appreciate the “mystery” of the current system. With any luck, Oregon and Auburn will both lose and we’ll be handed a third straight Boise State – TCU matchup, only this time it will be for the National Championship. Maybe then people some of the BCS school people will start to notice that the BCS isn’t a perfect system.