Week 8 Thoughts - The Rank Rankings
Texas Tech QB Seth Doege
Texas Tech QB Seth Doege
Posted Oct 24, 2011

Why is Texas Tech ranked behind Oklahoma? Why is Wisconsin behind Nebraska? These and more issues with the BCS rankings

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Week 8 Thoughts, Oct. 24 

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- Cirminiello: Stanford deserves a better ranking
- Fiutak: Why is Texas Tech ranked behind OU?
- Harrison: Notre Dame still hasn't arrived  
- Johnson: Stanford proved it's a powerhouse
- Zemek: The Big East in the BCS ... UGH
E-mail Pete Fiutak

The BCS's PR campaign is Every Game Counts.

No, it doesn't.

No, the system doesn't work. The system is flawed, it's always been flawed, and until the powers-that-be finally change up the way college football determines its champion, it'll always be flawed.

Oh sure, the LSU-Alabama winner on November 5th will rip through the rest of its schedule, confetti will fly, the crystal football thing will be taken to a Wal-Mart near you, and everyone will be nice and happy that the best team in the game will have earned its way to the title. To be fair, college football gets it right better than any other sport – it should be Philadelphia vs. New York in the World Series – but that doesn't mean the BCS works.

In a sport with a national title matchup created on theory and belief, the steps taken to get to the final destination have to be credible, and after this week's BCS rankings, they're not.

It starts with the human polls that continue to skew things from the start with the initial rankings, and then don't adjust accordingly based on what's happening on the field.

Oklahoma was No. 1 in the Coaches' Poll to start the season, and while it put up some big numbers, it sputtered against a shockingly average Florida State and struggled early against a horrible Kansas team before losing at home to Texas Tech. The Red Raiders' two losses came to Texas A&M and an unbeaten Kansas State. Texas A&M's two losses were to No. 3 Oklahoma State and Arkansas, and Arkansas' lone loss came to No. 2 Alabama. Therefore, in the absence of any other head-to-head variables, the ranking order has to be Arkansas or Kansas State, then Texas A&M, then Texas Tech, and then Oklahoma. Of course, the computers, the supposedly sensible part of the equation, would pick up on this, right?


Oklahoma is No. 7 according to the average computer rank, Arkansas is eight, Texas A&M 11th, and Texas Tech 18th. NOT ONE COMPUTER FORMULA HAS TEXAS TECH RANKED AHEAD OF OKLAHOMA. But this is hardly the only inconsistency.

Auburn is 5-3 with the three losses coming to Clemson, Arkansas, and LSU, who have a combined one loss – the Hog loss to Alabama – and are all in the top ten of the rankings. Theoretically, if Arkansas is No. 10, then Auburn could be No. 11.

A few weeks ago, Auburn gave South Carolina its only loss of the year, winning in Columbia 16-13. The Gamecocks have a better record, but they've beaten only one BCS top 25 team – Georgia – and haven't faced anyone else currently in the top 25 but Auburn. There's no logical reason, at the moment, to put South Carolina ahead of Auburn based on the current overall rankings and based on what happened on the field, but the convoluted computer formulas don't take that into account with all six putting the Gamecocks higher and the human formulas all putting the Tigers outside of the top 25.

And then there's Wisconsin.

Oklahoma lost at home to an unranked team and is eighth in the Harris Poll, ninth in the coaches', and seventh among the computers. Wisconsin lost to the at-the-time No. 16 BCS team, Michigan State, on the road on a fluky Hail Mary, and it dropped like a stone to 24th among the computers – and unranked according to one. Worse yet, the Badgers destroyed Nebraska 48-17, and now they're ranked one spot behind the Huskers in the BCS rankings and in five of the six computer formulas.

Fine, college football, have your little BCS if it makes you happy. But it doesn't work. 

By Russ Mitchell
Follow me on Twitter @russmitchellcfb

For a minute, just forget common sense.

Forget how ridiculous it seems that Oklahoma, a team that about two thirds of the way through the season has only played one school currently ranked in the top 25 – and lost to them AT HOME, is somehow ranked higher than a team (Arkansas) that has played three top 25 teams, beaten two, and whose only loss came in Tuscaloosa to a world class Crimson Tide.

That's what they want you to talk about. It makes them rich. Don't watch the magician's waving hand…instead, watch the still one.

I'm tired of old men long past their football glory "determining" which team is "actually" better than the other. With no order. No structure. No set standards as to how to make such an interpretation.

Just a bunch of ex-jocks long past their prime – or those that never played – debating the merits of Team A over Team B by whatever means the individual deems fit to do such evaluating.

Whoever thought up this cluster mess of a situation? (More on that in a minute.) It's like the old air conditioner you know needs replacing, but you instead Frankenstein together – year after year adding different parts, refurbishing it as much as possible, just to make it through to the next summer, no matter how increasingly inefficient it gets with each passing year. You know this can't last, but you do it anyway, until at the end the machine looks so convoluted and dysfunctional its death is more merciful than painful.

Welcome to the College Football Postseason process.

Sunday night on the ESPN BCS Countdown, I hit my own personal wall. Listening to Craig James and Robert Smith give me absolutely random – the operative word being random – explanations as to why THEY believed one team is better than the other.

If they didn't have so much power to affect millions of dollars, it would be comical.

Why should James, or anyone other than the players and coaches themselves, determine who is the best team? Why? Particularly based on some wildly individual, unstructured opinion?

We live in a world fantastically different than when Alan J. Gould, AP sports editor, first invented the college football poll in 1935 simply to stir the pot; to give folks something to argue about to sell newspapers. Today, advances in communication and transportation make the prospect of balancing a national postseason infinitely practical.

The kicker in my own epiphany came near the end of said show while listening to Kirk Herbstreit discuss a potential Alabama vs. LSU rematch for a "national championship". Herbstreit's at the top of his game, and might very well be the best in the business at this hour. But I choked when he basically said if at the end of the year we (all of us, except not really all of us) believe that Bama and LSU are the two best teams, then we'll just have them play again.

Whatever I think about the merit of a rematch is irrelevant. What's relevant is that whatever Herbstreit thinks about the merit of a rematch should be equally as irrelevant. And yet, people like him determine which two teams are plucked out of a pool of 120 to be our champion. Based on, what – gut feel?


How the hell is that equitable? There's something inherently un-American here. A group of people sitting together in a politburo, men and women who "know best", deciding for us - fans, players and coaches - who will play and who won't.

WHY do it that way? Nearly every other college sport decides its champion on the field…what's different about FBS college football? What are we protecting with such a dysfunctional process?

Keep pulling back the curtain, and watch the still hand.

It's clear that this antiquated system is dysfunctional, so why don't we change it? Are we just incompetent? Unable to emerge from the morass of a system that makes us look foolish? Hardly. As is nearly always the case, follow the money.

Nothing changes because the folks making hundreds of millions of dollars off the postseason of YOUR sport – every year – don't want to change it. Why would they? Would you? The private promoters – the private businesses – that long ago co-opted our sports' postseason, and have been aided and abetted by conference commissioners, athletic directors and broadcasting executives, all lining their pockets along the way.

For years now we've been told how "wonderful" our sport is because we get the "privilege" of arguing week in and week out about which team is better. Here's a news flash – there would be just as much arguing with a system planned to decide our winner on the field. Instead, the ones suggesting that it's great to be able to debate our way to a national champion, rather than simply knowing, are the very ones that drive revenue as a result of that debate.

Seem a bit conflicted to you?

And so we get James telling us how he ranked Team X over Team Y for reason Z, when the next voter never even considers reason Z a contributing factor in his/her analysis.

Meanwhile, the fans of the sport – the ones that actually provide the revenue – are, like the free labor (read: Players), left to dance like marionettes as the old men pull strings on random opinion – and then feel important. Part of a club.

It's long past time for this nonsense to end.

It's long past time to acknowledge that San Jose State, as brave and as noble as its players may be, does not play the same football as LSU and Florida State. Not week in and out. That it's a disservice to the sport to continue to allow 120 (and growing) teams to "participate equally", thus making the situation all the more confusing.

Finally, it's long past time to stop allowing our billion dollar sport to have its champion randomly determined like a beauty contest selection process, with far less structure/rules afforded even figure skating judges, who are ultimately entrusted with magically picking the best two teams out of a field of 120.


There's too much money now fellas. These days, they too are numbered.

Tick. Tock.

- Cirminiello: Stanford deserves a better ranking
- Fiutak: Why is Texas Tech ranked behind OU?
- Harrison: Notre Dame still hasn't arrived  
- Johnson: Stanford proved it's a powerhouse
- Zemek: The Big East in the BCS ... UGH