I’ve always had a strange affection for the BCS. I loved the idea from the beginning. Having two teams actually play for a National Championship as opposed to letting writers (the sports version of death panels) pick the champion was what college football had always been missing. And when it screwed up and the wrong teams ended up playing for the title, I stuck by its side, turning my head the way a delusional parent does when they find out their angel of a child is actually using pages from his math book as rolling paper.
Put simple, I might be the system’s biggest apologist. But if Rutgers ends up playing Penn State for the National Championship, I’m out. I will disown the BCS forever.
Normally this wouldn’t be a concern at all. It’s been strange enough to see the Scarlet Knights finish in the top half of the Big East the past few seasons and the Nittany Lions are typically a mortal lock to screw up at least one must-win game every year. But given their embarrassing schedules, both teams have a realistic shot to run the table, a notion that has to make the people at ABC queasy.
If Rutgers is unbeaten after it travels to Maryland (a team that might win four games all season) at the end of September, the talk of a perfect season will start to get loud. The Scarlet Knights get Pitt, South Florida and a down West Virginia team at home and something tells me Army just won’t have what it takes to stop them.
Meanwhile, Penn State is more likely to get beat by its practice squad than the nonconference teams it scheduled. In what most people consider the easiest schedule of any BCS program, the Nittany Lions play Akron, Temple, Syracuse and Eastern Illinois and go on the road just four times all season. Joe Paterno himself could quarterback his team through this schedule.
It’s not just the two teams from the northeast guilty of scheduling for a championship. Ole Miss, who beat Florida last season, is a top ten program playing two games against IAA teams and two others against schools who couldn’t win a high school championship in most states (Memphis & UAB). Wisconsin misses Ohio State in the Big 10 this season, plays three nonconference games against teams that won’t finish in the top 100 and also has a IAA team on its schedule. And don’t forget about Notre Dame, who crazy Lou Holtz picked to play for the BCS Championship specifically because of its weak schedule.
The only thing worse than not having a playoff decide the champion is allowing a team that has five variations of Wofford on its schedule to reach the title game. And that’s what could very well happen this season.
If it does, college football will be hockey to me.