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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, November 24, 2008

No pulling rank on the BCS

By Ferd Lewis
Advertiser Columnist

If Boise State beats Fresno State Saturday to finish the football season at 12-0 and ends up playing outside the Bowl Championship Series while lesser ranked teams from the Atlantic Coast and Big East conferences are guaranteed BCS berths, a curious thing figures to happen.

Nothing.

Nary a peep of protest.

At least not officially from the Broncos or the Western Athletic Conference. Their fans, of course, would be another matter.

Never mind that, say, a two- or three-loss Cincinnati or three-loss ACC team could be bound for the lucrative BCS while Boise State is playing in the Poinsettia Bowl. Or, for a swell reward: the Boise-based Humanitarian Bowl on frigid Dec. 30.

When the six power conferences (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Big East, Pac-10 and Southeastern) drew up the format, they took care of themselves. Very good care.

They assured each of their champions, no matter the record or ranking, a place in the BCS. The better to hang on to the big bucks and assure their standing.

Only when members of Congress began using words like "antitrust" and "monopoly" did the BCS agree to, grudgingly, make more room for a highly ranked team from an outside conference (WAC, Mountain West, Conference USA, Mid-American or Sun Belt).

But only one per year under certain conditions. Which is how Boise State got in two years ago, how UH advanced last year and Utah will enter this year. And why, officially, they are made to feel grateful. The implication being to thank their lucky stars and BCS largess and not rock the boat.

Now, Utah (12-0) is sixth in this week's BCS standings, Boise State (11-0) ninth and Ball State (11-0) of the MAC 15th. All of them are ahead of the highest ranked Big East team, No. 16 Cincinnati (9-2) and the top-ranked ACC team, No. 20 Florida State (8-3). You can add the Pac-10 champion, should No. 17 Oregon State (8-3) win out.

Yet the ACC, Big East and Pac-10 titlists would be assured BCS berths and paydays while only Utah of the outside crowd would be permitted to join the party.

Better would be to have a genuine playoff. Or, failing that, standings, rather than pedigree, to decide all the BCS berths.

Instead, what we could have is a situation where Cincinnati, if it beats Syracuse, becomes the Big East champion and goes to the BCS even if it happened to lose to Hawai'i Dec. 6 for its third loss on the way. Meanwhile, Boise, which could be undefeated and own a 27-7 win over UH, would be left out.

Tell me that shouldn't be something to yell about?

Reach Ferd Lewis at flewis@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8044.