POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Sep 1, 2010
The nice people from the Bowl Championship Series sent us a handy booklet of rules and regulations that includes how teams are chosen for college football's big and bountiful postseason games. It proved useful in the fall of 2007 as we tracked the possibility of Hawaii making it to a New Year's Day game.
If you're not from one of the six privileged BCS conferences, the rules are a lot of, "if this condition is met AND this condition is met, your scrubby little midmajor team gets in. MAYBE." Some of the standards are out of the said team's control. (Which made it miraculous that Hawaii somehow got to the Sugar Bowl despite its 12-0 record that included more wins against I-AA schools than Top 25 foes.)
Yes, the system is quite bothersome if you're not among the elite.
I'm not going to argue that teams from mediocre leagues playing lousy schedules deserve as much consideration as those dominating power conferences. And this is not going to be yet another argument for a playoff (the wisdom of that goes without being said).
But anyone can see the way the BCS is set up is unfair to the midmajors and in need of revision.
Even more irritating than the labyrinth non-BCS conference members must negotiate to earn access is this line:
Independent Notre Dame receives an automatic berth if it finishes in the top eight (of the BCS rankings).
Why is Notre Dame singled out for special consideration from other independents?
Of course, the answer is obvious to anyone who has seen 15 minutes of "Rudy." Notre Dame is Notre Dame. It's got a big TV deal and a national following. It's got tradition and that Subway Alumni.
The other current independents are Army and Navy. They've got tradition aplenty, but it's been a long time since either has been ranked among the nation's best teams and deserving of a New Year's bowl game. But what if one were to go unbeaten in a regular season? Boise State, BYU and Hawaii have all done it.
COULD BRIGHAM Young's decision to go independent in football lead to fundamental changes in the college game? Does BYU have enough juice to lead reform of an unbalanced system?
Ever since the possibility of the Cougars making this move surfaced weeks ago, there's been a lot of behind-the-hand tee-heeing from the big boys. Who do they think they are, Notre Dame? (The funny thing there is that Notre Dame isn't even Notre Dame anymore.)
The original BYU plan was to put its nonfootball teams in the WAC. Wasn't that the conference it escaped from in the 1990s? The West Coast Conference will be the Cougars' new home, instead; the basketball's pretty good there, but it's not exactly a powerhouse league overall.
BYU's snub of the WAC is no surprise after the Mountain West made that option untenable by snatching away Fresno State and Nevada. It was a good idea, when the WAC had eight teams.
But don't laugh too hard at BYU. Independence Day could, and should, be coming soon for Hawaii, too -- as well as a bunch of other schools that will eventually fall victim to realignment.
THE TRENDY thing to say these days is politicians have more important things to do than mess around with sports. But why not put some time and resources into what their constituents care about? And if you are concerned about the future of UH in Division I sports you might want to write to your president (whom some of us believe really was born at Kapiolani) and your congressmen and tell them you want them to be more like Orrin Hatch ... at least on this issue.
Hatch, the venerable senator from Utah, doesn't miss an opportunity to tell the BCS when he thinks it is missing the C. Now that his outrage over Utah's lack of access to the national championship game is alleviated by the Utes' move to the Pac-10, it's time for him to wave the flag for BYU and Utah State ... and by extension, UH and the rest of the "little guys."
More independents are to come, Hawaii likely among them. And the ethics -- if not the legality -- of Notre Dame's special deal and the BCS system in general should come under intense siege.
Why should a lobby that includes the military academies let a bunch of college presidents push it around?