Every year, there”s some school that”s barely better than the 11 bad teams it plays, builds an impressive record and then cries bloody murder when it doesn”t get the respect that a team that beats 10 good teams gets (Tulane circa 1998, I”m looking in your direction.) It”s almost akin to the student who majors in Communications and then brags about his impressive grade point average.
Saturday evening, I was watching Brigham Young beat Utah 24-21, and couldn”t help but think this team would be 6-5 if it played in a good conference. Being 11-0 is great, if you”re an 11-0 team. But it”s not acceptable for a 6-5 team to masquerade as an 11-0 team getting no respect.
The Cougars impressive wins this year are Saturday”s three-point win over Utah, a four-point win over UNLV and a seven-point win over Wyoming.
In 1984, an undefeated Brigham Young got away with this when in the Holiday Bowl, it beat a Michigan team that finished 6-6. The Cougars beat Michigan 24-17, though Michigan lead 17-10 in the fourth quarter. After the win, the Cougars were deemed “national champions,” but had there been a tournament instead of a bowl system, the Cougars would have lost in the first round. If that Michigan team went 5-4 in the Big Ten, the Cougars would have gone 6-3, at best.
In 1993, West Virginia went 11-0 against a soft schedule and reached No. 3 in the polls. The Mountaineers weren”t invited to play in the national title game. Instead, they played Florida in the Sugar Bowl.
The Gators went on to take a bite out of crime, 41-7.
Virginia Tech used this same scheme in 1999, when it went undefeated and got to play Florida State in the national-title game.
The Hokies joined the Mountaineers in the “Nice Try” chapter of college football history, losing 46-29 in a game that wasn”t even that close.
This was the lesson the Cougars learned in “84 if you go undefeated against one of college football”s weakest schedules, people will overlook the schedule and see an impressive record.
Fortunately, those Cougars didn”t have to play in the Sugar Bowl.
For this to happen once, shame on the Cougars. Twice? It won”t happen again.
The BCS was implemented to check such frauds teams can no longer go 11-0 and claim that all 11-0 records are equal.
Brigham Young is currently ranked 13th in the BCS, 10 of the 13 teams have one loss and two teams have lost two games.
But from what I saw Saturday evening, the BCS” logic hasn”t been accepted by Brigham Young fans.
What I saw Saturday evening was absurd tens of thousands of Brigham Young fans painted blue with a kid in one arm, holding a sign begging for a spot in the Fiesta Bowl in the other. What”s even more upsetting is that these fans know the Fiesta Bowl is an easy target to push around. These fans undoubtedly saw Oregon State make a bunch of empty threats to get an at-large bid to the BCS” worst game.
As far as receiving an illegitimate at-large bid to a BCS game? We”ll see.
But to be honest, I don”t even know why the Cougars want to play in the Fiesta Bowl. If you want to play in the Majors, don”t play in the Mountain West conference and play Tulane, Nevada and California in the nonconference part of the schedule.
Rather than begging the Fiesta Bowl to take them, the Cougars should beg the Fiesta Bowl not to take them. That way, they could go to the Liberty Bowl, finish with an undefeated record and start a national championship campaign, the way they did in 1984.
Playing Pac-10 champion Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl is just going to highlight what everyone already knows Brigham Young is not that good.
Raphael Goodstein can be reached at email@example.com.