Column: BCS mess has lasted from start to finish

This is the year — and the week — we put the BCS to rest.

After Sunday, the BCS hits the list of extinct species. Once it determines the Nos. 1 and 2 college football teams in the nation, it will go the way of the dodo, the Edsel and Mike Myers' movie career.

The BCS — Bowl Championship Series for the uninformed — has been around for 16 years, confusing and confounding fans every step of the way.

We've come a long way. The original BCS formula had a little bit of everything — two polls, three computers, a strength-of-schedule component (broken down into something called "quartile rank") and a category for losses. The grid looked like a Wall Street broker's spreadsheet.

Tennessee fans may remember the weekly mental exercise of trying to guess how the numbers would fall after each Saturday in 1998. As the schedule wore on, UT hit the final weekend undefeated, as did Kansas State and UCLA. Of that threesome, only the Vols won, leaving UT to face one-loss Florida State for the national title.

Hard to believe that was 15 years and four coaches ago, huh?

The BCS now is streamlined to feature only two polls and six computer rankings. And it's still a mess.

Why should the final year of the BCS be any different from so many others? When you're narrowing the best teams in college football down to two, chaos and discontent are to be expected. We've been here before.

Remember 2000? A one-loss Miami team was ranked second in the human polls and had beaten Florida State in the regular season but finished third in the BCS formula. Florida State lost to Oklahoma in the championship game.

What about 2001? Nebraska lost its regular-season finale to Colorado 62-36 and didn't play in its conference title game but got into the BCS Championship game over Colorado and Oregon.

It doesn't stop there. Almost every other year, there has been controversy about the identity of No. 1 or No. 2 or both. This season is more of the same. Assuming the favored teams win on Saturday, there are going to be some angry fans on Sunday. No. 3 is going to be out for blood.

At the risk of forfeiting my seat at the next board meeting of the Honorable Society Of SEC Defenders, I'll come clean: If Florida State and Ohio State win their respective conference championship games on Saturday, they should play in the BCS Championship game.

We will now pause while SEC zealots everywhere prepare their responses. I suggest you send your comments to Jim Delany at the Big Ten office. He's handling public relations for me.

Why Ohio State over Auburn? The precedent long has been set by the BCS that an undefeated team from one of the power conferences gets in ahead of a one-loss team from any league.

Is it fair? Not really. But that's how the BCS works.

Look, everybody knows the Big Ten is down. It's no better than the No. 4 football conference in the country right now, behind the SEC, Pac-12 and Big 12. There's no way Ohio State would go undefeated through an eight-game SEC schedule. The Buckeyes' best wins are Wisconsin (31-24), Northwestern (40-30) and Michigan (42-41).

Does Auburn have a better overall résumé than Ohio State? Absolutely. Is Auburn playing better football right now? You bet. In a head-to-head game, would Auburn beat Ohio State? I don't know.

Food for thought: According to RJ Bell of, the consensus among bookmakers in Las Vegas is that Ohio State would be a 2½-point favorite over Auburn if the two played. That's not my number; it's straight from the wise guys.

Chew on that. I always find it interesting when people use the Vegas line to justify their arguments but abandon it when their allegiances to a given team or conference get in the way. If we're choosing teams based on a betting line, it's the Buckeyes over the Tigers as of this moment.

Would a four-team playoff, like the one that will debut next season, work better? Sure. The winner of Auburn-Missouri would be no worse than a No. 3 seed and Alabama would remain in the championship hunt at No. 4.

Under that scenario, it's entirely possible we'd again have an all-SEC national title game.

As it stands, I guess we'll have to wait till next year.


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