TEN YEARS OF BCS: 2000
The Guru’s Note: Beginning in June, the Guru will publish a
review of each of the 10 seasons since the Bowl Championship Series
came into existence in 1998. In this series —
Ten Years of BCS — the Guru will examine the
results from these seasons — who got lucky and who got robbed, what
could’ve been, what should’ve been and other controversies of the day.
The series will appear weekly leading up to the 2008 season.
After two years of relative calm, controversy
exploded on the BCS in Year 3. For the first time, a team’s presence
in the BCS title game was called into question. And the criticism went
unabated even after an undefeated champion was crowned.
But if anything, this was a self-inflicted wound.
Bowing more to an ignorant media than any real
pressure from public opinion, the BCS drastically changed its formula
to retroactively make amends for an outcome it was powerless to
change. Instead of defending its method and holding its ground, the
BCS capitulated. This knee-jerk reaction would bring far more serious
consequences in the years to come and compromise its claim to
legitimacy in the system’s formative years.
Oklahoma finished the 2000 regular season as the
only undefeated team and its No.1 ranking was undisputed. But Florida
State, despite ranking No. 3 in both the AP and coaches polls,
leapfrogged No. 2 Miami in the final BCS standings to earn a date with
the Sooners in the Orange Bowl.
The media went berserk, more so than even Miami
coach Butch Davis. The credibility of BCS computers was called into
question because it was the computers’ preference for the Seminoles
that carried the day. The main argument was this: Since both Miami and
Florida State each had one loss, and the Hurricanes beat the Seminoles
on the field, how could Florida State be ranked ahead of Miami?
The BCS panicked big time. Changes were promised
and then carried out in the offseason. The computer lineup was
reshuffled to de-emphasize margin of victory. And a dubious "quality
win" criteria was added to the formula — as if the existing
arrangement wasn’t convoluted enough.
But the BCS should’ve responded ith: "What’s the
problem?" and vigorously defended the system.
Florida State was a worthy No. 2 team. If you lined
up FSU and Miami side-by-side, plenty could’ve been made in the
1. Strength of Schedule: Florida State and
Miami ranked Nos. 2 and 3, respectively, in the strength of schedule
compartment of the BCS standings. But upon further examination, that
was laughable. (the SoS, parroted from the RPI that the NCAA uses for
its basketball selections, would prove to be the most destructive part
of the formula — but more on that later in the series.) Florida State
played in a tougher conference (ACC)- than Miami (Big East). Its
non-conference games consisted of Louisville, Brigham Young, Florida
and Miami. The ‘Canes played I-AA McNeese State, Louisiana Tech,
Washington and FSU, plus Big East cupcakes such as Rutgers and Temple.
2. Losses: Florida State’s
lone loss was to Miami, 27-24, at the Orange Bowl on Oct. 7. The
Seminoles rallied from a 17-0 halftime deficit to take a 24-20 lead
late in the game, only to lose on a Ken Dorsey-to-Jeremy Shockey pass
with 46 seconds left. The ‘Canes’ only defeat was a 34-29 loss at
Washington on Sept. 9.
3. The Washington Factor: If head-to-head
results were so paramount, then maybe Washington should’ve been ranked
ahead of Miami. After all, the Huskies beat Miami and also
only lost once — a 23-16 defeat at two-loss Oregon.
4. Margin of Victory: If Washington was
discounted because it won lots of close games — eight of its 11 games
were decided by seven or fewer points — then the fact that Florida
State won its games, against a considerably tougher schedule, by a
wider margin than Miami (38.9 vs. 30.4) should not have been
overlooked. And the computers didn’t.
5. Historic Precedent: Even before the birth
of BCS, there had been several instances that a team was ranked ahead
of another despite losing head-to-head and possessing the same record.
In 1993, Florida State finished ahead of Notre Dame in both polls even
though the Irish won, 31-24, at South Bend. In 1978, USC finished
second to Alabama (11-1) in the AP poll even though the Trojans (12-1)
beat the Tide, 24-14, in Birmingham, Ala.
See, the body of evidence is pretty strong in the
Seminoles’ favor. Their presence in the BCS championship game was
easily defensible. That they laid an near-egg in an ugly 13-2 loss to
Oklahoma is immaterial. And that Miami defeated a Florida team in the
Sugar Bowl — a team that the ‘Noles walloped — is irrelevant.
And one more thing: Even if today’s BCS formula,
which gives two-thirds of its weight to the human polls, were applied
to the 2000 season, you’d still end up with the same result. Florida
State would’ve finished second, ahead of Miami (1.1093 vs. 1.1025).
Final BCS Standings:1. Oklahoma, 2. Florida State, 3. Miami
(Fla.), 4. Washington.
* Using present day BCS formula: 1. Oklahoma, 2. Florida State.
* Using human polls only: 1. Oklahoma, 2. Miami
* Plus-One: Oklahoma vs. Washington; Florida State vs. Miami (Fla.).
* Notre Dame windfall: The Fiesta Bowl
passed on four teams ahead of Notre Dame in the BCS standings to take
the two-loss No. 10 Irish. Virginia Tech, ranked No. 5 with its only
loss to Miami, fell just outside of the Kansas State-mandate and was
ignored. Three other two-loss teams were also swept aside — Oregon
(out because two other Pac-10 teams were already taken), Kansas State
(they’re pretty used to this by now) and Nebraska. The Huskers also
had a beef because they had defeated Notre Dame in South Bend, 27-24,
earlier in the season. This occurred at a time when the Irish received
a windfall of $13 million for a BCS bowl appearance — as opposed to
today’s more balanced payouts. Notre Dame was promptly exposed as a
fraud as it was annihilated by Dennis Erickson’s Oregon State Beavers,
BCS formula review: No change to the formula
was made between the 1999 and 2000 seasons. And that’s about to
change, as the formula would be tweaked or overhauled in four of the
next five years.
Analysis: The changes to the BCS formula
prior to the 2001 season would prove to be simply reactionary and
solved nothing. And while an argument may be stated on Miami’s behalf,
the results of the bowl games really made a case for Washington. The
Huskies went 7-1 in easily the toughest conference in 2000. They beat
Purdue in the Rose Bowl; and bowl wins by Oregon State and Oregon gave
the Pac-10 three teams in the top seven in the final AP poll. The BCS
was rocked by its first real crisis and another one would erupt the
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