Saturday, January 5, 2002
Somewhere out there, the Oregon Duck is squawking louder than he has ever squawked before.
After watching Miami feed Nebraska its lunch in Thursday’s Rose Bowl, the entire Duck nation is quacking up a storm about what might have been.
If it weren’t for the failed Bowl Championship Series — a bogus ranking system that fell flat on its face once again this year — would UO fans really be chanting, “We’re No. 2”?
Guess we’ll never know.
And that’s what’s so galling about this current BCS system. It’s so subjective.
Margin of victory is given more value than quality wins, so if a team like Nebraska stacks up huge victories against pansies like Rice and Troy State, they are rewarded more than Oregon is for beating ranked opponents like Wisconsin, UCLA and Washington State.
Following BCS logic, had the Ducks scored one more touchdown versus Utah State or Cal, that may have been the needed boost to vault them into the national title game. How is that fair?
As far as I’m concerned, a win is a win no matter how you earn it. Whether you win by 50 or by five; whether the opponent is 10-0 or 0-10; a “W” is a “W.” Period.
If the BCS is going to factor margin of victory into its rankings, it might as well start considering margin of defeat. In that case, the Huskers shouldn’t have been anywhere near Pasadena after their embarrassing 62-36 loss to the Buffaloes on Nov. 23.
Not only that, but Nebraska’s loss came in the last game of the season — a time when teams should have figured out enough about themselves to avoid a 26-point loss.
The Ducks’ only defeat was by seven points to another nationally ranked opponent, Stanford, and it came in the seventh week of the season.
If the BCS considered margin of defeat and time of year in which a loss occurred, there would have been no debate over who the Hurricanes’ opponent should have been on Thursday.
Nebraska fans may try to use the “strength of schedule” argument, but if they choose to play that card, they would be hard-pressed to find a tougher conference schedule than Oregon’s — a bye versus the UW notwithstanding.
Sure the Huskers are in the same conference as Colorado, Oklahoma and Texas, but they lost handily to the Buffaloes, beat the Sooners by 10, and didn’t even play the Longhorns.
As for the other team at the heart of this debate (or, at least until Tuesday night): Colorado tried to argue that a win over then-No. 2-ranked Nebraska secured them a right to play for the national title. But the Buffs lost twice.
We’re talking about teams who end the season on an even plane — like Oregon and Nebraska — and have no way of proving which is the more deserving team except for to rely on an unproven, highly subjective point system.
Did the 1997 national champion Arizona Wildcats basketball team — a No. 4 seed in the tournament — have to consider a “point system” to get them into the championship game?
Of course not. And that’s precisely the point. In every other pro, college and high-school sport, each team that qualifies is allowed to compete on an even playing field at season’s end.
If all the other sports can employ a bracket system that works, why not college football?
There has never been a more convincing argument for a college football playoff than this season just passed. Give every team a shot that has earned a shot and let them prove it on the field — say, the top 16 teams.
In that case, this year’s tournament would have included my favorite underdogs, the No. 13-ranked WSU Cougars. Who’s to say that the Palouse Posse wouldn’t have gotten its revenge on the Ducks a second time around? Who knows if Florida or Texas would have gotten hot and made a late run toward the national title.
And who’s to say the Ducks wouldn’t have burst the Hurricanes’ bubble in the title game?
Guess we’ll never know.
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Planet Fly at Pfriem
The band Planet Fly plays at Pfriem in an outdoor concert. Enlarge