Monday, January 12, 2009
I am in no way a supporter of the BCS, I don't buy into the argument that a playoff system would diminish the regular season and I don't buy into any argument in support of the BCS other than it generates the most money. We will always have endless debates about who the "true" national champion is, could Team A go and play in Conference D and do as well, and every year we have a team that the media clings onto in an attempt to show that the BCS failed. A couple of years ago we had Boise State, another year it was Hawaii, this year it is Utah.
Utah had an impressive season, going 13-0 and capping it off by hammering Alabam in the Sugar Bowl 31-17. While no one outside of Austin would dispute that Florida is a deserving champion, we now have some voices who believe that Utah should have received at least a share of the national title. One such voice is NBCSports.com's very own John Tamanaha. Tamanaha goes out of his way to spit shine the turd that is the Mountain West Conference in defense of why he believes Utah deserved a share.
He starts by pointing out that the MWC went 6-1 during the regular season against the Pac-10 (yup, good idea to keep it to the regular season, this way you don't have to bring up BYU's bowl loss to Arizona). While the MWC did collect 6 wins against the Pac-10, only two of those were against teams with winning records (Utah over Oregon State and New Mexico over Arizona)--not to mention that BYU, one of those "ranked" teams from the MWC Tamanaha talks about when lauding the MWC, barely got by 0-12 Washington, 28-27.
Next, Tamanaha tries to beef up the non-conference schedule for the MWC by pointing out who the MWC's non-conference opponents beat:
"Just by looking at the school names, the rest of Utah's 2008 slate might not knock your socks off, but upon closer examination nearly all of the teams — not just the four ranked ones — that were victimized by the Utes had at least something to hang their hats on."
Yes, I remember doing this in Little League. You see, I played for the Rams and we were going to be playing the Reds, and since we beat the Eagles who beat the Tigers who beat the Reds, we knew we would win.
Tamanaha really struggles to make his case by re-defining what a quality win is. He points out that Michigan beat then ranked #9 Wisconsin, that Utah State beat Hawaii (who finished 2nd in the WAC), Air Force beat Houston and Colorado State (both bowl teams), Wyoming beat Tennessee, Weber State went 10-4, and, well, you get the point.
Very impressive resume. The only problem is that 9th ranked Badgers team showed it was as worthy of that ranking as Clemson was by finishing 7-6, including a close game at home to I-AA Cal Poly, 36-35--um, that would be the same Cal Poly team that barely beat San Diego State, 29-27, the worst team in the MWC; Hawaii finished 7-7, including a blow out loss to the Irish 49-21 to finish the season; Weber State is a freaking I-AA school (Iowa should feel so good about its thrashing of Maine earlier this season since Maine was a I-AA playoff team as well); and Tennessee was hurrendous this season at 5-7 and barely beat Northern Illinois, 13-9.
Fact is, the MWC did not play a quality non-conference schedule. You can say that teams don't want to play the mid-major programs for whatever reason, that Michigan and Tennessee were down this year and should not count against the MWC, but the fact remains Utah was the only MWC school to defeat a non-conference team during the regular season that finished in the top 25 and TCU got thumped by OU in its only such game, 35-10.
So, could Utah have beaten Florida, OU or any of the other major powers in the nation? Yes. Would they have finished 13-0 and even be in this discussion if they were in the Big 12 or SEC? Um, I am going to go with no. Supporters of the Utes can hang their hats on wins against 3-9 Michigan all they want, it doesn't mean Utah should be the national champion or even a co-national champion. All it means is they eeked out a win against a school that was about to have its worst season ever and that the collective body of work of the MWC is weak at best regardless if opponents had off years.
Yes, we need a playoff system, and we need it to quash the voices of those who think that based on a couple of games against quality non-conference opponents, as well as playing six degrees of separation with everyone's schedule, that a team like Utah could roll into Gainesville or Austin or Norman or So Cal on a consistent basis and win.