Alabama and Texas get to play in a national title game. For TCU, Cincinnati and Boise State, the math doesn’t quite add up but they still get a spot in a BCS bowl.
The quirky, often imperfect method of choosing a national champion succeeded Sunday in matching top-ranked Alabama against No. 2 Texas in the BCS championship — a Jan. 7 game between undefeated teams that will bring together Heisman Trophy hopefuls Colt McCoy of the Longhorns and Mark Ingram of the Crimson Tide.
And, of course, it also produced plenty for the little guys to get upset about.
No. 3 TCU, No. 4 Cincinnati and No. 6 Boise State also finished undefeated. All three were included in the BCS, but none will play for the title, which will renew the annual debate about college football’s way of determining the best team in the land.
“If we were going to talk about fairness, the first thing we’d do is destroy that whole structure,” said Jay Coakley, a sociology professor who authored the textbook, “Sport In Society: Issues and Controversies.” “That’s the least fair thing in all of college sports. It doesn’t even pretend to be fair.”
Seeking its first national title since 1992, Alabama opens as a 3-point favorite for the game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. That’s the place where Vince Young almost singlehandedly led Texas to a victory over Southern California in 2006 to claim the national title.
The other BCS matchups: Oregon against Ohio State in the Rose Bowl; Iowa against Georgia Tech in the Orange; Florida against Cincinnati in the Sugar and TCU against Boise State in the Fiesta.
“We’re here to prove a point,” TCU coach Gary Patterson said after his team’s fate was announced. “I voted for us No. 2 in polls today when we voted. We believe we have a great football team and we’re out to show we could be the No. 1 team in the nation.”
The Longhorns (13-0) have been on both sides of the BCS debate in the past.
Just last year, their chances for a national title were squashed when they lost a three-way tiebreaker for the Big 12 South title.
This time around, Texas defeated Nebraska 13-12 in the Big 12 title game Saturday to secure its spot in the national championship, though the less-than-dominating performance certainly left things open for debate. Still, there was a big gap between Texas and TCU in the BCS rankings, the coaches’ poll and The Associated Press poll, which is not included in the BCS formula. The AP awards its own national championship.
Behind 113 yards rushing and three touchdowns from Ingram, Alabama (13-0) defeated Florida 32-13 in the SEC championship game, an overwhelming victory over the defending national champions that made the Tide an easy choice for No. 1.
But is anything really easy when it comes to the BCS?
TCU was ranked 17th in the preseason polls and never really had a chance to rise above the bigger, more traditional programs that were ahead of them.
Cincinnati made it through the Big East, one of the six so-called power conferences.
Boise State finished its fourth undefeated regular season in the last six years, but still found itself ranked behind No. 5 Florida, in large part because it plays in the Western Athletic Conference.
A perfect scenario for an eight-team playoff, perhaps, but that’s years off.
“Why should Boise State and TCU, who are both undefeated, be satisfied?” said Rep. Joe Barton, a Texas Republican who is trying to pass legislation to change the BCS. “One might say they were bought off, paid off, by going to the so-called BCS bowl.”
Indeed, with two non-BCS schools making the big games, there will be a few more million dollars for the 50-or-so non-BCS schools to divide among themselves. But no national championship.
That will go to either Texas or Alabama. The Longhorns have a 7-0-1 record against the Tide, though many of those came when it was Bear Bryant vs. Darrell Royal on the sidelines. They haven’t met since the 1982 Cotton Bowl, when Texas won 14-12.