January 4, 2013
When the BCS bowl selections came out, would you have have picked Florida, Kansas State and Northern Illinois as the three busts? Sure, it was easy to say Northern Illinois had potential to be one, but you weren't likely to have thought Florida was going to be out matched by Louisville. You might have predicted an Oregon win, but not the defensive game the Ducks played to shut down Klein and KState. It was easier to think the Rose Bowl was going to be a snoozer, with Wisconsin's .500 conference record.
So far, the Rose Bowl has been the best BCS game. The game that featured a B1.5G Champ that was in the game because they are in a division with two teams on probation. A B1.5G Champ that beat the other, legitimate, division champ 70-31 in Indianapolis.
Let that and the fact that the Sugar Bowl drew fewer than 60K people sink in. Let that and the lack of a compelling match up in the Orange Bowl for the eighth year in a row sink in. Let that and the complete lack of ability of the bowls had in selecting their match-ups sink in.
Oh, sure, they got to 'select' who was in, but of the ten BCS bowl teams, nine were automatics: Six Conference Champs (Alabama, FSU, Louisville, Kansas State, Wisconsin, Stanford), Notre Dame as number one in the BCS, Florida as number three in the BCS, Northern Illinois as a top 16 non-AQ champ with an AQ champ ranked below them (in this case, Louisville, 21st, and Wisconsin, NR).
As a side note, the AQ designation is going away, which Michael Felder argues will only hurt the smaller conferences, and he is right. While that is a post for another day, which I'm sure I'll write in the nadir of the off season, it also raises another question: Will there be another push for an 'automatic' spot or spots in the playoffs?
If that is the case, get used to the uninteresting first week of January match-ups. Not that the schools or the conferences or ESPN cares. Those games are valuable content. That *everybody* wants them is merely a side benefit.