On MNC Wednesday this week, we see one of the most laughable processes in the entire BCS history of laughable processes. Once again, despite a plethora of two-loss teams to choose from (and even some teams with better records, too), the BCS let the SEC lobby its way into the title game without merit, all to make a buck with some regional fans, and we ended up with another flawed and non-transparent mythical champion.
Read on without laughing if you can, as the sport began to mock itself with tomfoolery …
The 2007 MNC: Disgusting corruption at its most obvious level yet in the annals of the sport
Here is the Associated Press Top 10, including final record with key bowl results:
1. LSU: 12-2 — W, BCS, 38-24
2. Georgia: 11-2 — W, Sugar, 41-10
3. USC: 11-2 — W, Rose, 49-17
4. Missouri: 12-2 — W, Cotton, 38-7
5. Ohio State: 11-2 — L, BCS, 24-38
6. West Virginia: 11-2 — W, Fiesta, 48-28
7. Kansas: 12-1 — W, Orange, 24-21
8. Oklahoma: 11-3 — L, Fiesta, 28-48
9. Virginia Tech: 11-3 — L, Orange, 21-24
10. Texas 10-3 — W, Holiday, 52-34
The LSU Tigers were selected for the title game against Ohio State over several other teams, using arguments that would later be reversed by the same people down the line—and because of the location of the final game. The Bulldogs didn’t win the SEC, while the Trojans did win the Pac-10. The Mizzou Tigers did not win the Big XII, while the Mountaineers did emerge with the Big East title on their way to finishing No. 1 in the SRS.
The Jayhawks’ only loss came to Missouri in the regular-season finale, so Kansas didn’t win the Big XII, either. That honor went to the Sooners, who got manhandled in the Fiesta Bowl. Seriously, it’s like all these dominoes fell over in just the right order for the BCS to get its money’s worth in the championship.
Any other teams on the contender list? We should note the BCS also ignored an undefeated Hawaii team in favor of the LSU Tigers (in addition to the one-loss Jayhawks, of course). The goalposts always moved for the SEC, you know. Meanwhile, BYU went 11-2 as well, so we will advance them for argument’s sake.
In the final analysis, therefore, we have 4 teams to scrutinize more closely, as we do here. These are the respective SOS ratings for our best teams, after applying the criteria above:
- USC: 13 Division I-A opponents, 4.33 SOS rating, 23rd of 119
- LSU: 14 Division I-A opponents, 5.77 SOS rating, 14th
- West Virginia: 13 Division I-A opponents, 3.40 SOS rating, 32nd
- BYU: 12 Division I-A opponents, -0.04 SOS rating, 66th
The Buckeyes finished ninth in the SRS, showing they never should have been atop the BCS rankings at all, which makes LSU’s victory hollow and suspect, considering Oklahoma, USC, and West Virginia were all better teams, arguably. The Mountaineers are the ones who end up getting screwed here, since they should have been atop the BCS rankings instead, but due to a 4-point loss to Pittsburgh in the regular-season finale, they never got the shot.
Meanwhile, the Cougars didn’t have the schedule strength, while LSU played the better schedule than USC, despite the fact the Tigers gave up 93 combined points in their two losses. The Trojans lost to Stanford by one point in the famous upset, and then USC also lost to Oregon on the road by a TD.
The reality is that the only reason the Tigers’ SOS is better than the Trojans’ number is that LSU got to play Ohio State (No. 9 in the SRS) in its bowl game while USC had to play Illinois (No. 28 in the SRS) in the Rose Bowl. At the end of the regular season, the Trojans were the better team in both the SRS and the SOS ratings.
So, because the BCS contrived, again, to get an SEC team into the “title” game, USC got shunted off to the side, and it hurt the Trojans’ sabermetrics in the long run. USC never gave up 50 points in a loss like LSU did, and the Trojans only allowed more than 24 points in a game once—while the Tigers did it three times!
We have discussed this before in this space how the forced bowl matchups have hurt superior teams, and this machination is the perfect example of it: USC was the better team on paper before the bowl season, and then LSU barely leapfrogged the Trojans after getting the better bowl matchup. We can’t let that interfere with the reality that USC was the better team. Without the bowl favoritism, the sabermetrics would reflect this.
But we can’t just toss out one game like that, can we? Even if it obviously was contrived? USC was the better team and deserves the BCS title bid more than LSU did—but the results of the bowl games flipped the sabermetric script, in another example of the BCS machinations “working out” for it in the end despite erroneous processing.
Oh, and did we mention that the BCS championship game was in played in New Orleans? That is all you need to know to understand why LSU was “picked” to play for the title over USC and West Virginia—teams with better sabermetric profiles at the end of the regular season (not to mention Hawaii and Kansas, teams with better records than the Tigers). If ever the fix was in for this sport, this was the clear moment of crossing the Rubicon.
And for that corrupt reason, we know the Trojans were the better team—and we’re going with USC as the honest and transparent champion for 2007. The Tigers did not deserve the spot in the “title” game, so we can’t justifiably reward them for it, either. This may rankle some Confederates in the South, but they get what they have coming.
Congratulations to the 2007 USC Trojans, the mythical national champion!