It is not a question of if, but when the mildly tweaked BCS system will cause havoc. In the past couple of years, the specific circumstance has been unforeseen, but trouble inevitably emerged, be it with the voters, the computers or the supposed experts who devised the computer rankings.
Two years ago there was one controversy, but it was significant. The top-ranked team in both the Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN polls, Southern California, was not ranked in the top two of the BCS standings, meaning the Trojans did not play in the so-called national title game in New Orleans. USC staged its own coronation in the Rose Bowl that year, beating Michigan to earn half of the national title it has yet to relinquish.
For fans of chaos, last season was better. For starters, five teams finished the regular season undefeated, and only two, USC and Oklahoma, could play for the national title game in the Orange Bowl, leaving Auburn, Utah and Boise State to fend for leftovers. Auburn Coach Tommy Tuberville, fresh off a Sugar Bowl victory over Virginia Tech, openly campaigned for his team while the Trojans and Sooners played for the championship.
Speaking of lobbying, Texas Coach Mack Brown stumped for his Longhorns near the end of the regular season just to get into a BCS bowl. It worked: California, despite ending its season by beating Southern Mississippi while Texas was off, lost ground to the Longhorns in both human polls. Texas played in the Rose Bowl, Cal was relegated to the Holiday Bowl and several voters received hundreds of e-mails that did not wish them a happy New Year.
In July, the BCS announced that the AP poll would be replaced by the Harris top 25, a poll of more than 100 voters, including media members and former players and coaches. Unlike the AP poll, the first Harris poll won't be released until Sept. 25. The formula to compute the BCS standings, two-thirds human polls and one-third computer rankings, remains the same, which should guarantee a headache come November.