By Michael Wilbon
Monday, November 8, 2010; 12:36 AM
It's the same old lies and promises as ever with the BCS and the cartel that props it up. It was supposed to be different this year, we were told, because Boise State and TCU began the season so high in all the rankings, in the top five or six in most polls. That level of preseason praise meant the game's best and most high-profile party crashers wouldn't have to leapfrog so many cartel members and therefore would be in position to play for the national title if they earned it on the field.
So some of us, foolishly we know now, were hopeful - until Sunday night when the latest BCS standings were released. Twenty-four hours after TCU turned in probably the most stunning performance of the season and after Boise destroyed an opponent that had won five straight, they sat No. 3 and No. 4 respectively in the BCS standings, looking up longingly at the latest darlings of the cartel, Auburn and Oregon, knowing something cataclysmic would have to happen to derail the same scripted business-as-usual scenario in college football.
TCU, No. 3 in the BCS when play began Saturday, went on the road to Utah and trashed the team that was ranked No. 5 by the BCS. That Utah team had won 21 straight home games and had every reason to think it, too, had a chance to play for a national championship by remaining undefeated. It's a Utah program that less than two years ago humiliated Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. So, TCU goes into Salt Lake City and beats Utah 47-7, and some of what I heard Sunday night was that the victory should be discounted because Utah must not have been that good in the first place. So, turns out the cartel's ranking of Utah as No. 5 must have been wrong. Boise piling up 737 yards of total offense while holding Hawaii's No. 1-ranked passing offense 244 yards below its season average in a 42-7 victory - that might as well not have happened.
But Auburn, which had a virtual bye against Chattanooga, stayed right where it was, at No. 2 in the BCS rankings. And Oregon, who by local accounts turned in a rather uninspired performance at home against a pretty lousy Washington team, stayed at No. 1.
So, with essentially three weeks left in the regular college football season there apparently is nothing TCU and Boise can do to play for the national championship. The cartel has slammed the door on them again. Auburn, which needed overtime to beat Clemson of the ACC (a conference that positively stinks), will stay in the top two if it remains undefeated. And Oregon will stay in the top two if it remains undefeated. So those head-thumpings TCU and Boise delivered Saturday very possibly will mean nothing. And to add insult to insult, the BCS will probably match them in a bowl game (which would be the third straight year) because the last thing the BCS wants to see is an angry Boise or TCU beat the hell out of one of the Cartel members as happened a couple of years ago when Utah ripped Alabama's face off in the Sugar Bowl.
The agents of the cartel as are likely to move LSU ahead of TCU and Boise as they are to put TCU or Boise in the top two. Trust me, they're spinning it in that direction already. Never mind that LSU already has one loss and would have two if the coaches at Tennessee could count. The boys of the cartel and the agents who do their bidding on TV and sometimes in the newspaper will tell you how much better the Southeastern Conference is than is the Mountain West, where Utah and TCU play, and you'll just have to take their word for it since the Alabamas and Floridas don't have the guts to play Boise or TCU unless matched with them in a bowl game, and they'd just as soon hide from that.
Look, if I still voted in the Associated Press poll I'd probably rank Oregon No. 1, TCU No. 2, Boise No. 3 and Auburn No. 4. And if Auburn beats Alabama in Tuscaloosa (which I cannot envision for the life of me) on the Friday after Thanksgiving then I'd reassess and probably leapfrog Auburn over both TCU and Boise to No. 2.
But after watching TCU simply obliterate Utah Saturday, I'm convinced at this point that TCU is better than Auburn. (And yes, you could indeed watch the game on television. . . Channel 613 on DirecTV. Why do I believe most of the pollsters didn't watch, even though they could have done so at a sports bar somewhere.)
People can tell you the SEC and other conferences are better than the leagues TCU and Boise play in, but that doesn't make it true. I'm a Big Ten alum and I love my conference. But it's not great. I'm not sure it's even really good. The Big Ten has four teams in the top 13 of the BCS standings, which is a joke. The ACC, which gets an automatic bid to the BCS while the Mountain West does not, has one team ranked in the top 25 (Virginia Tech), which last I checked lost to Boise State despite a home-field advantage here in Washington when the two played. And please don't even mention the Big East, which is absolutely inferior to the Mountain West in football.
Yet, it's the same old college football strong arm. Boise State, to finish as high as No. 2, will have to beat a ranked 8-1 Nevada team by 50, plus have Oregon lose to either Cal or Oregon State, and Auburn lose to either Alabama or in the SEC championship game. Even then, the agents of the cartel will tell you a one-loss Auburn team should be voted higher than Boise or TCU and that Nevada isn't really that good if Boise can win by 50. It's the cartel's agenda-driven catch-22.
TCU, because it has leapfrogged Boise State in the standings - and because the agents of the cartel construct every one of their arguments comparing the two, as if one has anything to do with the other - will almost certainly finish No. 3 in the BCS standings because the Horned Frogs simply won't lose to either San Diego State or 1-8 New Mexico. So, even though I love watching Cam Newton of Auburn, and even though going through the SEC undefeated is probably the most impressive feat in college football, the continued systematic suppression of TCU and Boise State is so distasteful that I'm happy to root for whatever outcome will help the Outsiders. Apparently, a miracle will do.