The BCS' answer? Turn the Fiesta Bowl, traditionally the home turf of the Big 12, into the Separate But Equal Bowl. So I guess that makes the new guiding principle of BCS bowl selection "damage control." Matt Hinton of the brilliant Dr. Saturday blog (formerly Sunday Morning Quarterback) doesn't smell any conspiracy:
It's not really that sinister: The Fiesta Bowl made the picks itself, one undefeated upstart (Cincinnati) still has its chance to make good against a powerhouse (Florida) and the only options beyond the championship game and the Gators would have been matching the Frogs and Broncos up with almost equally surprising outfits from Georgia Tech and Iowa. It's not a conspiracy; as with so often in the BCS, the setup ensures that somebody is always getting screwed.
I find it almost inconceivable that the Fiesta Bowl would willing choose both Boise St. and TCU over its birthright, Big 12 representatives Iowa. Nor would I be surprised to find that the BCS is more than confident in Urban Meyer and Tim Tebow's ability to put down the 3rd undefeated pretender.
It's time for a change, ladies and gentlemen. I present to you the Wetzel plan, 2009 edition. It's a playoff of the same sort played all the other NCAA sports, including Division II football, so I don't want to hear a word about kids playing too many games. All 11 Division I conference champs + 5 at-large bids, with higher seeds getting home field advantage. The bowls can still invite people and play if they want, but they don't take part in the tournament; otherwise, home field advantage would be pointless. There are plenty of reasons to back this system as laid out by Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports. If none of that convinces you, though, just take a gander at what this season would look like under the Wetzel plan:
Almost brings a tear to your eye, doesn't it? Right out of the gate in week 1 we get Iowa at Pac 10 champions Oregon, Georgia Tech on the road at Ohio State, Virginia Tech on the blue turf of Boise State, LSU crossing the Sabine river to TCU, and, hoo boy, 2 great powerhouses you never see together: Penn State at Florida.
It's already got more and better matchups than the BCS this year, and we're just on the first Saturday.
Imagine the likely week 2, and you've got the winner of Iowa-Oregon traveling down to Austin to play Colt McCoy and the Longhorns. Cincinnati gets the winner of Va Tech-Boise St. at home. A couple hundred miles south will be a likely match between the Ohio State Buckeyes and Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa.
Boise St, TCU, and Cincinnati all get legitimate shots at the Mythical National Championship (as well as East Carolina and several other smaller outfits), but TCU, the one with the highest seed, would have to get past LSU, Florida, and probably Alabama. Boise St. would have to beat Va Tech, Cincinnati and Texas.
This needs to happen. Sooner or later, it will happen. It's inevitable.