Perhaps Gordon Gee should loosen his bow tie.
Ohio State’s president told the Associated Press on Wednesday that Boise State and TCU, the prettiest of college football’s ugly stepsisters, were undeserving of a berth in the BCS Championship Game.
Boise State’s overtime meltdown against Nevada on Friday night made Gee’s point half-moot. The Broncos’ first regular season loss since 2007 subtracted them from the national title equation.
“I don’t know enough about the X’s and O’s of college football,” Gee told the AP. “I do know, having been both a Southeastern Conference president and a Big Ten president, that it’s like murderer’s row every week for these schools. We do not play the Little Sisters of the Poor. We play very fine schools on any given day.
“So I think until a university runs through that gauntlet that there’s some reason to believe that they not be the best teams to (be) in the big ball game.”
Every school schedules cupcake opponents. Gee can’t hide the fact that the Buckeyes hosted Marshall (5-7) and Eastern Michigan (2-10). Even No. 2 Oregon beat up on New Mexico (1-11) and Portland State (2-9), and No. 1 Auburn shellacked Arkansas State (4-8) and Louisiana-Monroe (5-7).
Teams can’t survive by heaving rocks at goliaths every Saturday. They need a few weeks of the season to regroup and get healthy by hosting an inferior opponent.
That’s one of the few beauties the BCS system creates: Every week of the season is a playoff, with one slip-up capable of marring an entire season. Gee knows that all too well after a loss at Wisconsin knocked the Buckeyes from the top spot in the polls in mid-October.
With no room for error, teams can’t afford to schedule a series of championship contenders.
Finishing a battle-tested 8-4 doesn’t mean anything in college football. In basketball, where the regular season attracts as much attention as a 4 a.m. infomercial, a daunting non-conference slate helps prepare a team for the true test of the season, the NCAA Tournament.
Some would argue that Boise State played a more competitive non-conference slate than OSU. The Broncos beat Virginia Tech (10-2) and Oregon State (5-6).
Where Gee’s argument loses steam is with his suggestion of a “murderer’s row.” OSU’s best victory this season is at Iowa against a five-loss Hawkeyes team that lost Saturday to lowly Minnesota (3-9). And the Buckeyes were lucky to escape Iowa City with a win.
OSU feasted on Indiana (5-7), Purdue (4-8) and Minnesota. Would those bottom feeders hold their own on Boise’s blue turf?
Only three Big Ten teams, including the Buckeyes, hold conference records better than .500. That isn’t indicative of the gauntlet Gee suggests.
Utah was ranked No. 5 in the BCS standings when it hosted TCU on Nov. 6. The Horned Frogs won, 47-7.
No, the rest of TCU’s schedule isn’t representative of the tests a national championship team should face between September and December.
However, that’s partially the doing of the BCS.
We leave it up to the voters to determine the most worthy candidates for the title game. Clearly, Oregon and Auburn are the most deserving teams and should they both win on Saturday, we’ll see the Ducks and Tigers play for the crystal football Jan. 10.
Aside from those two schools, though, there aren’t any obvious favorites. That’s where the BCS system leaves us hanging.
Every year during these autumn months, we prattle on about whether the “little guys” deserve the same opportunities that teams from BCS conferences are afforded.
We’ll never have a definitive answer until an unheralded team such as TCU or Boise State gets a chance, and even then, arguments will persist.
In a typical year with a handful of heavyweights vying for entry into the BCS Championship Game, the Broncos and Horned Frogs should end up where they belong: at best, a BCS bowl game against a formidable opponent.
But in a year with only two teams from major conferences carrying unblemished records, it might be time to let TCU in and see what happens, should one of the undefeateds falter.
Every team controls its own destiny — except for schools like Boise State and TCU, who are at the mercy of the BCS conferences.
Even Gee should be able to see that through his little, round glasses.