Sometimes, it takes someone with a different perspective to open your eyes. On my way to the Cowboys Stadium parking lot after the Big 12 title game, I chatted with CBSSports.com's Gary Parrish about the BCS chaos we would have seen had officials not given Texas another second to kick a game-winning field goal. Parrish, whose primary beat is college basketball, couldn't believe that Texas quarterback Colt McCoy's pass hitting a stadium railing altered the fate of the national title matchup.
"What a stupid system," Parrish said. "So, because Jerry Jones decided to put a railing there instead of 50 feet further back, Texas gets to play for the national title instead of Cincinnati?"
Parrish, who has the luxury of covering a sport that determines its champion with a tournament, is entirely correct. It is a stupid system, and it looks even stupider in that context.
That doesn't mean BCS officials deserve all the criticism they get, including some of the barbs thrown by me. When it was announced Sunday that Boise State would face TCU in the Fiesta Bowl, I had the same gut reaction as BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall; the BCS was conspiring to protect power conference teams from getting embarrassed the way Alabama did against Utah in the Sugar Bowl last year.
"I would have loved to see both of them play an automatic qualifier," Mendenhall said Sunday. "I think it's the safest thing in terms of those that are proponents of the current system, and you run a lot less risk [than] if TCU were to play a BCS qualifier and win and if Boise State were to play a qualifier and win."
I was a little meaner than Mendenhall. When the matchup was announced, I took to Twitter and congratulated the BCS for setting up the first Separate but Equal Bowl. A lot of people felt the same way, so don't be surprised if you hear a few Plessy vs. Ferguson references leading up to the game.
After thinking about the matchup for a while, I realized I was a hypocrite for complaining. In this week's rankings, I had TCU at No. 3 and Boise State at No. 5. If I truly believe the Horned Frogs and the Broncos are the third- and fifth-best teams in the nation, then how can I complain about them playing one another in a bowl game? Why would I want to see TCU play an Iowa team that, according to my own rankings, is inferior to Boise State? What would that prove?
So sorry, BCS dudes. I got a little carried away. You made a great game when you matched up TCU and Boise State. In fact, only one thing would have made it better.You should have made it a national semifinal.
Last Week: 2
Alabama Crimson Tide (13-0)The Crimson Tide put together its most complete game of the season, and in the process proved itself as the nation's most complete team. Now comes the hard part. Alabama has to spend the next month as the favorite in the BCS title game. As the 2002 Miami, 2005 USC and 2006 Ohio State teams will attest, that's not always a favorable position.
Last game: Beat Florida, 32-13
Next game: Jan. 7 vs. Texas in BCS championship game
Last Week: 3
Texas Longhorns (13-0)Texas deserves this shot, but the Longhorns have plenty of reasons for concern. Nebraska used the nation's best front four to harass Texas quarterback Colt McCoy, and the Longhorns barely survived. Now, Texas must face the nation's best front 11.
Last game: Beat Nebraska, 13-12
Next game: Jan. 7 vs. Alabama in BCS championship game
Last Week: 4
TCU Horned Frogs (12-0)TCU coach Gary Patterson and his Fiesta Bowl counterpart, Boise State's Chris Peterson, know each other well. In 1986, Patterson was the linebackers coach at UC-Davis. Peterson was the Aggies' starting quarterback.
Last game: Beat New Mexico, 51-10
Next game: Jan. 4 vs. Boise State in Fiesta Bowl
Last Week: 5
Cincinnati Bearcats (12-0)The Bearcats barely had time to celebrate their second consecutive Big East title before coach Brian Kelly told them he'd be interviewing at Notre Dame. If Kelly gets the job, it wouldn't be a shock if he still coached Cincy in the Sugar Bowl. Florida's Urban Meyer, the coach on the other sideline, led Utah to a Fiesta Bowl win in January 2005, almost a month after he was hired at Florida.
Last game: Beat Pittsburgh, 45-44
Next game: Jan. 1 vs. Florida in Sugar Bowl
Last Week: 6
Boise State Broncos (13-0)If Broncos quarterback Kellen Moore shreds TCU the way he did every other team on Boise State's schedule, then those of us who vote for the Heisman Trophy owe the sophomore an apology. Moore's candidacy was another victim of Boise State's schedule, which also kept the Broncos from consideration for the BCS title game.
Last game: Beat New Mexico State, 42-7
Next game: Jan. 4 vs. TCU in Fiesta Bowl
Last Week: 1
Florida Gators (12-1)The stress of a season of huge expectations and seemingly never-ending issues landed Gators coach Meyer in the hospital on Sunday. He has said he is fine, but he told The Gainesville Sun he lost too much weight and must take better care of himself in the future.
Last game: Lost to Alabama, 32-13
Next game: Jan. 1 vs. Cincinnati in Sugar Bowl
Last Week: 8
Oregon Ducks (10-2)Ken Goe of The Oregonian made an excellent point this week. The Ducks were foolish to schedule Boise State at the start of the season. They should have brought Western Kentucky or some other creampuff and rolled to an undefeated record for most of the season. Who knows? Maybe they would have beaten Stanford while trying to protect a national title run. One of these days, schools will learn that in the BCS era, scheduling tough out-of-conference games doesn't help anyone. That's yet another reason why the system stinks.
Last game: Beat Oregon State, 37-33
Next game: Jan. 1 vs. Ohio State in Rose Bowl
Last Week: 7
Ohio State Buckeyes (10-2)The Big Ten has been unfairly judged by the Buckeyes' recent failure in BCS bowl games. That isn't necessarily fair to the Buckeyes, either. Ohio State took a great Texas team to the wire last year in the Fiesta Bowl. At the Rose Bowl, Ohio State will get a chance to mend its reputation. Oregon, with its wacky uniforms and innovative offense, is everything Ohio State is not. With a win, the Buckeyes can show everyone that the classics -- and sweater vests -- never go out of style.
Last game: Beat Michigan, 21-10
Next game: Jan. 1 vs. Oregon in Rose Bowl
Last Week: 9
Iowa Hawkeyes (10-2)Hawkeyes quarterback Ricky Stanzi (right ankle sprain) will be back for the Orange Bowl, but the real action will be on the other side of the ball. Norm Parker's defense is one of the most fundamentally sound in college football, which means it should match up well with Georgia Tech's triple option. After four weeks of teaching from Parker, the Hawkeyes should have their assignments down cold.
Last game: Beat Minnesota, 12-0
Next game: Jan. 5 vs. Georgia Tech in Orange Bowl
Last Week: 10
Penn St. Nittany Lions (10-2)The knock against the Nittany Lions is that while they crushed inferior competition this season, they played horribly against the best teams on their schedule. We'll know if they truly deserve this ranking after they face LSU, which has more raw talent than any team Penn State saw this season.
Last game: Beat Michigan State, 42-14
Next game: Jan. 1 vs. LSU in Capital One Bowl