Friday, July 25, 2008

The Grandmother of All BCS Disasters

The BCS Guru continues his examination of the 10 years of the Bowl Championship Series with a look at the 2003 season, the most catastrophic finish yet for the system supposedly designed to bring you, the fan, the best possible matchups in the postseason. Who is the BCS fooling?

After five years, you think the bugs would have been worked out of the BCS. Far from it. It all came crashing down in 2003 with split national champions.

Entering the final weekend of the season, three teams were vying for two spots in the Sugar Bowl. USC had one loss — in triple overtime at California, 34-31 — as did Louisiana State — at home to Florida, 19-7. No. 1 Oklahoma was undefeated entering the Big 12 title game against Kansas State.

USC defeated Oregon State, 52-28, and LSU beat Georgia, 34-13, in the Southeastern Conference title game. Oklahoma was routed by Kansas State, 35-7, in the Big 12 title game.

So who played in the Sugar Bowl? LSU and Oklahoma, of course. USC's anger was directed not only at the Sooners, but the Tigers as well. The Trojans' nonconference games were at Auburn and Notre Dame and home games against Hawaii and Brigham Young. LSU steamrolled Louisiana Monroe, Louisiana Tech and I-AA Western Illinois at home and Arizona on the road. As the Guru writes, "Just how LSU's schedule could be considered to be among the top 30 in the country showed the flaw in the [strength of schedule] ratings.

LSU, of course, beat Oklahoma, 21-14, in the Sugar Bowl. USC defeated Michigan, 28-14, in the Rose Bowl. LSU was named the BCS champion and USC was crowned the Associated Press champion.

Ted Waitt of Gateway Computers offered $31 million for LSU and USC to settle it on the field. LSU fans were upset with USC followers for claiming a piece of the title pie and eventually raised funds to put up a billboard across the street from the L.A. Coliseum.

Great system we have here. Great system.


Der Schatten said...

ahem, Wiz, a second here please?

I hate LSU, but the simple fact is that the BCS conferences (the PAC 10 included) signed onto this agreement to designate the BCSNCG winner as *the* nat'l champ.

Thus, there is one, and ONLY one national champ for 2003, that is the LSU Tigers. The 2003 USC "championship" is as legitimate as Auburn's 2004 People's Championship.

Da truth is da truth, Wiz. There was no split champ. There was an AP poll champ and that champ (much like Auburn's Fanpoll 'champion') was not awarded the crystal trophy.

Anonymous said...

I love how you just list non-conference games to try and make LSU's schedule seem easier than USC's. That's a pretty intellectually dishonest way to go about things.

First of all, the teams that USC played were nowhere near as good as there names might make them seem. Auburn went 7-5 on the regular season, including a loss to LSU. Hawaii went 8-5 on the regular season, barely squeaking out a 3 point win against the same La. Tech team you earlier disparaged. Finally, BYU and Notre Dame managed 4-8 and 5-7 records respectively. The only ranked team that USC beat during the entire regular season was Washington State.

While LSU's non-conference slate may have been easier than USC's, which wasn't itself all that difficult, when you look at their top wins their case becomes much more clear. Specifically, LSU managed to hand a UGA team that went 10-1 versus everyone else during the regular, including a 3 point loss to Florida, two losses, including a 21 point neutral site beat down in the SEC Title Game.

The simple truth of the matter is that the Pac-10 was terrible in 2003. Even though USC scheduled decent names for their non-conference games, none of those teams were particularly good. Honestly, I think that if you look at it closely, USC had the easiest road to a national title in a long, long time.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't Reggie Bush accepting money during 2003? Doesn't that cancel USC out?

Either way, three 1 loss teams will always be a problem for the BCS. But it's still better than a playoff or the old bowl system.