Two years in and the BCS had apparently solved some longstanding problems. Luck had held and two straight title games produced undisputed national champions. Unfortunately, college football being what it is, year number three provided a case study in controversy. The preseason AP poll was as follows: 1) Nebraska 2) Florida State 3) Alabama 4) Michigan 5) Wisconsin 6) Miami 7) Florida Note that these schools were for the most part 'reputation' schools. Nebraska and Alabama were both big names who missed the title game by a single play each, Florida State was as much a team of the 90's as the Cornhuskers and defending national champions, and save Wisconsin were all powerhouse names. The Badgers were the reigning Rose Bowl champions who had just seen their Heisman winner, Ron Dayne, leave for the NFL. Alabama was out of the hunt before autumn officially arrived and Wisconsin's overtime loss to Northwestern pretty much ended their season early as well. The first game of importance - though it seemed relatively meaningless at the time - saw Washington blow out to a 21-3 lead over Miami and hold on for a 34-29 win that was nowhere as close as the final score. Four weeks later, Miami and Florida State put on a show reminiscent of their early 90's contests that - literally - ended the exact same way. Florida State drove the length of the field and lined up for a game-tying field goal. Just like the losses in 1991 and 1992, the Seminoles kicker went wide right, and the Hurricanes, who had blown a 17-0 halftime lead, escaped with the home win. The first BCS standings were released on October 23, 2000, with three unbeatens taking the top two spots: 1) Nebraska 2) Oklahoma 3) Virginia Tech 4) Miami 5) Florida State By happy coincidence, the top two teams met just five days later. Continuing its rise from the early 90's graveyard, Oklahoma drilled Nebraska, 31-14, and rose to the top, with Virginia Tech close behind. The following Saturday, Tech's quarterback sensation Michael Vick was injured and only played about one quarter and Miami ended the Hokies' repeat dream with a 41-21 shredding. One can only imagine the shock from the Hurricanes team facility when they looked at the newest BCS rankings and saw Florida State had jumped them, although Miami ranked ahead of the Seminoles in the AP poll. On November 6, the BCS poll had a top three of Oklahoma, Florida State, and Miami, followed by Nebraska and Florida. A week later, Washington moved into the top five when Kansas State upset Nebraska while the Huskies were beating UCLA. Florida State then eliminated Florida in their annual grudge match and finished the year at number two. The objection was loud and instantaneous: how was it possible that Florida State was ranked ahead of a Miami team that had beaten them head-to-head? Almost nobody other than Florida State fans pointed out that if Miami wanted to use that argument then shouldn't Washington, whose one loss was a respectable TD loss to Oregon, be ranked higher than both? And this would lead to one of the first changes in the BCS, a change that in coming years would cause more problems. The BCS made two changes for future years: 1) they eliminated the margin of victory; 2) they added a 'quality win' criteria. Ironically, these criteria would set them up for the train wreck of 2003. So why was Florida State chosen over a Miami team that beat them head-to-head? Because the BCS formula took more than just one game into account. For starters, the FSU-Miami game itself was a toss-up. If one permits a three-point home field advantage then a game played in Miami was essentially a tie. It's not as though Miami had blown out Florida State in Tallahassee. Indeed, if that were true then Miami probably would have gone. But taking the 'whole season' concept to heart, Florida State was chosen for the following reasons: 1) Their strength of schedule was more difficult. Put quite simply, while Miami had indeed played both Washington and FSU, they'd also beaten lowly La Tech and I-AA foe McNeese State. Florida State had not only played Miami and barely lost, they had also beaten a two-loss Florida Gators SEC champions team, 9-3 Louisville, and 6-6 BYU. Add in the fact they had played in a much tougher conference (ACC) than Miami (Big East) and had conquered 8-4 NC State and 9-3 Clemson by an AVERAGE of 45 points each, and the Seminoles schedule was significantly harder. 2) The 2000 BCS took victory margin into account. Washington was undone by the fact they beat eight of their 11 opponents by a TD or less. Miami's average victory margin against a lesser schedule was 30 ppg while FSU won against a tougher schedule by an average of 38 ppg. The computers were programmed to figure for these factors. In the end, this was a controversy that should not have been. In the modern four-team playoff era, all four teams would make the semi-finals (note: this excludes the inconvenient fact that nowadays Miami and FSU now play in th same conference). But why would that be necessary? Washington and Miami had already met as had Miami and Florida State. Indeed, Florida State and Miami would have played a rematch in the semi-final while Oklahoma played Washington. Does anyone really think that Miami would have been happier had they lost "the game that actually counted?" This was a year where the BCS created its own problems for the future because rather than defending their system, they reacted to media displeasure. The simple truth is that this wasn't the first time such an 'injustice' had happened. USC beat Alabama in 1978 and wound up splitting the national championship. Notre Dame beat Florida State in 1993 and somehow their loss to Boston College rendered that result irrelevant. The table was now set and ripe for a disaster. In 2001, the BCS system and the worst terrorist attack in American history would combine to wreck the system in ways not even imaginable just three years earlier.