These are the days of our BCS
TCU football Coach Gary Patterson was in the shower Sunday night when this year's first Bowl Championship Series ratings were released. He was scheduled to appear on ESPN a few minutes after all the smoke and mirrors and double-talk ended to discuss how he felt about his Horned Frogs being ranked fifth in the standings.
Oklahoma was ranked No. 1 in the initial BCS ratings allegedly on the basis of schedule: The Sooners beat a Texas team that has a home loss to UCLA on its schedule; barely beat Air Force at home and barely beat Cincinnati - a mediocre team in a less-than-mediocre Big East. Oregon, a team that lost in 2008 and 2009 to a Boise State team that returned virtually all its starters from a year ago, is ranked No. 2 (and No. 1 in both human polls) with Boise State No. 3. Then comes Auburn and TCU.
"If we go 12-0, then we can make our case," Patterson said when the subject of playing in the national championship game came up. "That's down the road. Right now we have to beat Air Force and in a few weeks we're going to have to play at Utah [which is also undefeated]. That's enough to worry about without all this soap-opera stuff."
Patterson first brought up the notion of the BCS as soap opera Saturday after his team had beaten Brigham Young, 31-3, opting not to try to score again late to run up style points for the voters. BYU's field goal marked the first time in three games an opponent had scored against the Horned Frogs.
"Yeah, I had to run the guys today for that," Patterson joked.
Of course, the real joke is the BCS itself, and its most recent victims in recent seasons have been Patterson and TCU and Boise State and Coach Chris Petersen. Last year, both teams went undefeated and had no chance to play in the national title game.
TCU might have if the officials in the Big 12 championship game hadn't put a second back on the clock, allowing Texas to avoid what appeared to be an upset loss to Nebraska and kick the field goal that sent the Longhorns to the BCS championship game.
"When that happened, I just got up and walked down the block by myself," Patterson said. "I realized later I didn't put on any shoes; I was only wearing my socks. Of course if Nebraska had won, it would have been interesting to see what they would have decided."
Would they have actually allowed TCU to play in the title game? Or would the human voters who vote in the Harris Poll - a BCS invention created when the AP decided not to participate following the 2005-06 bowl season - and the coaches' poll have found a way to keep TCU at No. 3? It is worth noting that those running the coaches' poll decided to return to secret individual final ballots this season.
This fall, most of the focus has been on Boise State. Some of that is because the Broncos beat TCU in the Fiesta Bowl last January after the feckless bowl puppeteers forced the two teams to play one another to ensure that neither embarrassed a BCS conference school the way Utah embarrassed Alabama a year earlier.
The only team to beat Boise State in the last three seasons is TCU - two years ago in the Poinsettia Bowl, when the BCS passed the Broncos over completely even though they were undefeated. (TCU finished 11-2 that season after the bowl win). Patterson would love nothing more than a rubber match - as long as it's for the championship.
"I don't think they'd try to pair us again in a non-championship game," he said. "They had that card to play once, and they played it. I think it would be great to play them once more for the championship."