Bcs Controversies Revisited: 2009 - One Second From Disaster

Discussion in 'College Sports Forum' started by TedSlimmJr, Aug 30, 2018.

  1. TedSlimmJr

    TedSlimmJr Hartselle Tigers (15-0) 5-A State Champ

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    By comparison with the previous three years (and five of the previous six), the 2009 BCS was relatively conflict free and easy to decide. When Alabama and Texas completed campaigns as unbeaten teams and won their conference title games, not a soul was going to argue with the match-up.

    Ok, almost nobody.

    For the first time ever, SIX teams completed the regular season unbeaten: Alabama, Florida, Texas, TCU, Boise State, and Cincinnati. The general consensus was that the winner of the first-ever battle of SEC unbeatens in the SEC title game would give us one of the finalists and the other was going to depend on the BCS.

    The pre-season rankings for 2009 (AP AND coaches polls) were as follows:
    1) Florida
    2) Texas
    3) Oklahoma
    4) USC
    5) Alabama
    6) Ohio St
    7) Va Tech

    The schedule promised to settle this relatively early with one exception - and did.

    Virginia Tech was the first to fall and not totally surprisingly as Alabama overcame early struggles to beat the Hokies, 34-24. Televised at the same time, Oklahoma became the second to fall in a mild upset to BYU.

    The next week, Ohio State went down to USC.

    See, it's clearing itself out. But at least the Hokies and Buckeyes lost to favored opponents and while the Sooners did lose, BYU was a respectable team and the Sooners lost their QB for much of the game. The same could not be said of USC, who just seven days after beating Ohio State in a classic managed to lose a 16-13 shocking upset to Washington, a team with a brand new coach coming off a fifteen-game losing streak that included a record of "0 for 2008." This ranked right up there with the Trojans' 2007 loss to Stanford. Texas took out Oklahoma in October by the same 16-13 score in a game where OU's Heisman contending quarterback, Sam Bradford, left the game in the first quarter with an injury and missed the rest of the game. Texas beat Oklahoma, but their win was "without Bradford." (Keep reading, it's gonna be important in about 45-60 seconds, depending on how quickly you read).

    The morning after Texas beat Oklahoma "without Sam," the first BCS standings were released:
    1) Florida
    2) Alabama
    3) Texas
    4) Boise State
    5) Cincinnati
    6) Iowa
    7) USC
    8) TCU

    Seven of the top eight were still undefeated, with USC being the lone team with a blemish. A week later, Alabama got the scare of a lifetime, bailed out by two sensational blocks of field goal attempts by Mount Terrence Cody, the last on the final play from scrimmage, surviving to play another day. The following poll didn't drop any unbeatens, but there was some significant shuffling just below the top. Iowa narrowly escaped Michigan State while Cincinnati was pulverizing Louisville, but the Hawkeyes moved up to #4 and Cincy fell to #8. TCU got a boost when they sandblasted BYU, a team that had beaten Oklahoma earlier in the season. When Alabama had an off week and Texas beat a then undefeated Oklahoma State, the system worked precisely as it should - Texas moved above Alabama to #2. A week later when the Tide beat LSU in a classic, they moved right back ahead of Texas. Iowa crashed the same day, losing by seven to Northwestern in a mild upset. And it should be noted that the three amigos - TCU, Cincinnati, and Boise State - continued to shuffle as well.

    I draw attention to this because these facts were lost in the argument to complain about the BCS. Typical was the argument that stated, "well, Alabama and Texas started higher and didn't lose and THEREFORE that's why they played and the other teams didn't." But as we will see soon that argument simply was incorrect.

    And then we got the old system back. Sort of.

    When the dust settled on the regular season, the polls told the tale:
    1) Florida
    2) Alabama
    3) Texas
    4) TCU
    5) Cincinnati

    Five unbeatens were at the top and presumably it would PROBABLY be simple: the winner of Florida-Alabama was in the title game and if Texas won, they would make it. If by some quirk of fate Texas lost - and Nebraska had a legitimate defense led by Ndamukong Suh, but no offense - then the final polls were going to quite interesting indeed. Alabama dethroned Florida as SEC champions and left the field not knowing their opponents. A little less than two hours later, they learned that they would have a chance to exorcise the ghosts of Crimson past - the Tide had never beaten Texas.

    A month later, Alabama prevailed but not without press contention. The 37-21 final score masks the fact that with a little over three minutes left, Alabama was facing the prospect of a major choke job, leading only 24-21 and Texas had the ball. A fumble recovery set up the game-winning TD and another insurance TD made the game look like the rout it appeared for most of the night anyway. But the cry went up that Alabama might well have lost if not for the misfortune of Texas losing their Heisman candidate QB Colt McCoy on the first series. A 'just right' collision with Marcel Dareus left McCoy unable to feel or throw the ball, and the Tide won. The prepositional phrase "without Colt McCoy" became a cry, literally and figuratively. Very few arguing this bothered to point out that Texas might well have lost to Oklahoma "without Sam Bradford." This was a textbook example of incomplete and bad argumentation that marks so much of college football discussion, and it continued afterwards as the discussion became "what if Texas had lost to Nebraska."

    DID THE BCS GET IT RIGHT?

    Absolutely and without question. The fact Texas lost did not make them any less deserving, and the fact Boise State knocked off TCU did not make them any more deserving. This year was cited as one of those years to justify a four-team playoff, but the truth of the matter is that this year argued stronger than ever AGAINST a four-team playoff. Does any reasonable person think Florida was not the second best team in the country in 2009? Even if you reject that notion, you'd be hard pressed to name FOUR teams BETTER than Florida in 2009.

    If you cannot - and make no mistake, you cannot name 4 teams better than Florida in 2009 - then you just argued against any notion that "the four best teams" should meet in a playoff.

    Furthermore, all one has to do is look at the Sagarain SOS rankings for the year (parentheses):
    1) Alabama (2)
    2) Florida (15)
    3) Texas (38)
    4) TCU (60)
    5) Boise St (96)
    8) Cincinnati (44)

    Keep in mind that Cincinnati's SOS includes the Florida game, in which they were blown to bits by a score of 51-24, and Boise's horrible ranking INCLUDES the TCU game. Texas' schedule might not have been anything to write home about, either, but the fact remained they were 3-0 against the Top 30 and Cincy was 2-0. Yes, Texas did benefit from their name and their conference affiliation - and probably due to the fact that at least some folks felt they were passed over the previous year. But even had Alabama won the game by 40 points, it would not have meant Texas didn't deserve the shot.

    WHY NOT BOISE STATE?

    The three amigo controversy became the one-man wrecking crew controversy after the dust had settled. TCU and Boise played yet another boring game between the two schools and this time Boise prevailed. When Aaron Hernandez absolutely murdered Cincinnati (9 catches for 111 yards and a TD), the sole point of contention became the Smurf Turf warriors.

    Boise State had a higher national profile at the time for one reason alone, the same reason every pundit touting them as a playoff team appealed to the same tiny slice of evidence: they beat Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl. What exactly this had to do with 2009 was never explained by anyone because stupid argument points never make sense anyway even to those making them. Their second argument was even more absurd than the first: somehow the fact Utah had beaten Alabama in the 2009 Sugar Bowl had some sort of alleged relevance as to why Boise State should have been given consideration.

    There were numerous problems with the Boise State argument. For starters - what makes Boise State more worthy than TCU? Even if you set aside their tougher SOS, why was Boise State supposed to get some sort of credit for a game in 2006 but none of the pundits making this argument wanted to give TCU extra credit for beating Boise State in 2008? And if we were going to go back then why didn't TCU's seven point regulation win over Oklahoma in 2005 give them the nod as well? Seemingly, if a game wasn't viewed by a lot of people then it apparently didn't happen.

    And why did this Oklahoma game from 2006 get so much reference but the same folks ignored Boise losing by two touchdowns to 4-9 Washington, a field goal to 8-5 E. Carolina, and a dozen points to 12-1 Hawaii? Surely if a game played in January 2007 was relevant then so were three games played later the same year.

    But nobody made this argument. Nor did anyone make the argument that Boise State actually blew a 28-10 lead on Oklahoma and needed overtime to win. No, the appeal to "they beat Oklahoma" was somehow enough. Add in "Utah beat Alabama," which had zero relevance to the discussion and we were told that Boise and TCU deserved a chance.

    But the reality is more stark. They did not 'deserve a chance.' It's funny because it was the media who whined the loudest about unbeaten BYU winning the 1984 national championship. For years the Cougars have been ridiculed because of their schedule - but for some reason that didn't apply to Boise State.

    Furthermore, why when folks talk about this does Boise State get prominent mention but undefeated 1998 Tulane led by quarterback Shaun King, is nowhere to be found?

    In short, 2009 was a year in which the BCS worked precisely as it should have. Any four-team playoff that excluded Florida, who had won two of the previous three championships, would have been a fraud anyway.




    But as amazing as it might seem the Boise State argument had literally just begun. In 2010, the two biggest stories would be allegations of payment to the quarterback for the top-ranked team - and another alleged injustice involving Boise State and TCU.
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2018
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  2. TedSlimmJr

    TedSlimmJr Hartselle Tigers (15-0) 5-A State Champ

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    Ponder this for a second, what if the refs hadn't put 1 second back on the clock at the end of the Big 12 Championship Game? Remember, Nebraska was leading by a score of 12-10, and Colt McCoy launched an incomplete pass out of bounds in field goal range as time expired. Nebraska thought they had won the game. However, replay showed that the ball landed out of bounds with 1 second on the clock - so they put 1 second back on the clock, allowing Texas to kick the game winning FG and win 13-12.
     

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