Has the BCS worked? Let’s take a look

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 04:  Vince Young #10 of the Texas Longhorns runs past Frostee Rucker #90 of the USC Trojans to score a touchdown and put the Longhorns up by one in the final moments of the BCS National Championship Rose Bowl Game at the Rose Bowl on January 4, 2006 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Earlier this week, I took a look back at all of the BCS championship games and whether or not they really pit the top two teams in the country against each other. But more importantly, whether or not it was a slam dunk that these were the top two teams, and you couldn’t make an argument that someone else possibly deserved a shot.

Now, granted, my memory is fuzzy on the really early ones, as I was still in high school for the first two years of the BCS, but I have a pretty good recollection of the rest of these games/years.

It’s a long post, but click through to see if the BCS has really gotten it right, or if we’ve been missing out all these years.

*NOTE: Records are after the bowl games.*

1998: Tennesee (13-0) def. Florida State (11-2)

Other contender: Ohio State (12-1)

The Buckeyes only loss came in a shocker at home against Michigan State. They were a victim of the “lost later than FSU” curse that can kill a team no matter quality of opponent. While it’s tough to argue with Tennessee this year, there’s no way you can argue that we certainly had the top two teams in the country. Verdict: Unclear.

1999: Florida State (12-0) def. Virginia Tech (11-1)

Other contender: Nebraska (12-1)

Nebraska lost its one game against Texas, which it later avenged in the Big 12 title game. The Cornhuskers were pretty damn good, and would have given Va Tech a run for its money. But Va Tech was unbeaten heading into the title game — with a fairly mediocre schedule in the regular season as Butch Davis had yet to get his footing at Miami. Verdict: Pretty clear.

2000: Oklahoma (13-0) def. Florida State (11-2)

Other contenders: Miami (11-1) and Washington (11-1)

Welcome to chaos. Of the three one-loss teams directly behind Oklahoma, Washington beat Miami and Miami beat Florida State. So, of course, the rankings had it Florida State, Miami, Washington. This is the first year I remember thinking that this was ridiculous. To make matters worse, Oklahoma won a sloppy title game that shouldn’t have convinced anyone it would beat Miami or Washington. Verdict: Horribly unclear.

2001: Miami (12-0) def. Nebraska (11-2)

Other contenders: Colorado (10-3) and Oregon (11-1)

Miami was the clear-cut champion this year, so the BCS won. But this system is about getting the top two teams in the title game, not the top team. Nebraska was blown out by Colorado, but still somehow found a way into the title game. Colorado, meanwhile, went to the Fiesta Bowl where it was pounded by an Oregon team people didn’t think had played a tough enough schedule. The Ducks wouldn’t have beaten Miami, but they probably would have beaten Nebraska. Verdict: Very unclear.

2002: Ohio State (14-0) def. Miami (12-1)

Other contenders: Georgia (12-1) and USC (11-2)

Here’s where the playoff argument gets murky. Ohio State was clearly deserving of a spot in the title game, and Miami was unbeaten, too, meaning we all thought this was right. But Georgia’s one loss was to Florida, while USC lost two games early in the year to Kansas State (which was No. 8 in the final BCS standings) and Washington State (No. 7) by a total of 10 points. On the road. That Trojans team killed a lot of good teams, including Iowa in the Orange Bowl. Had they played this out, I really think USC — which was punished for actually playing a tough schedule — would have won. But the two most deserving teams got the shot. Verdict: Pretty clear.

2003: LSU (13-1) def. Oklahoma (12-2)

Other contenders: USC (12-1)

The Trojans were so much of a contender that they split the title. Voters realized how good USC was, but the computers felt Oklahoma was more worthy, even though it was blown out in its conference championship game. This is one of the bell-weather games BCS opponents point to, and with very, very good reason. Verdict: Incredibly murky.

2004: USC (13-0) def. Oklahoma (12-1)

Other contenders: Auburn (13-0)

Again, it’s hard to argue that USC wasn’t the best team that year. But, as bad as they beat Oklahoma, and what we now know about the SEC, it’s hard to not wonder what would have happened if Auburn would have had a shot. Oklahoma benefited from coming into the season at No. 2 (USC did the same by coming in at No. 1), while Auburn entered the season at No. 17. The Tigers never controlled their own destiny this season, and while it wasn’t a split title, Auburn fans have a real good argument that they were robbed. Verdict: Unclear

2005: Texas (13-0) def. USC (12-1)

Other contenders: Nobody

This one was a no-brainer. The BCS won because two teams were so far ahead of everybody else. Verdict: Crystal clear.

2006: Florida (12-1) def. Ohio State (12-1)

Other contenders: USC (11-2) and LSU (11-2), Michigan (11-2)

Ohio State started the year at No. 1, beat an overrated Texas team that was replacing Vince Young and coasted into its regular-season finale against Michigan by beating a bunch of mediocre to bad Big Ten teams. Michigan had coasted into that game on an inflated ranking after beating an overrated Notre Dame team and then those same mediocre to bad Big Ten teams. But, since their matchup was so close, people wondered if they should play each other again. Only the humans’ instinct to not allow a rematch saved us from this, and it’s a good thing, because both Michigan and Ohio State were spanked in the postseason. Florida was probably the top team that year, but there’s no way Ohio State was No. 2. A playoff would have been pretty damn interesting this year. Verdict: Unclear.

2007: LSU (12-2) def. Ohio State (11-2)

Other contenders: Pick one out of a hat.

There was a ton of chaos this year, and anything short of a playoff was a travesty. The fact that we got to see Ohio State fail to be competitive again just showed that the current system was in need of a change. Verdict: Crazy murky.

2008: Florida (13-1) def. Oklahoma (12-2)

Other contenders: Texas (12-1), Utah (13-0)

This time, the BCS rankings reared their ugly head before the conference championship games, deciding the Big 12 South. There was a three-way tie atop the conference, and there was added significance, because whether it was Texas or Oklahoma (Texas Tech had been slaughtered by Oklahoma and lacked the name brand for this to matter), whoever went would advance to the national title game with a Big 12 title. Oklahoma got the nod despite losing to Texas earlier in the season and having an identical record. And oh yeah, Utah was unbeaten that year, and crushed Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. Chances are Florida was the best team in the country that year. But there’s far from definitive proof. Verdict: Unclear.

2009: Alabama (14-0) def. Texas (13-1)

Other contenders: Cincinnati (12-1), TCU (12-1), Boise State (13-0)

I’d say it’s tough to argue with Alabama, but the Tide had more trouble than they should have with Texas’ backup quarterback, who proved this year that he’s near incompetent running that offense. The bottom line here is that there were five unbeaten teams when the regular season ended, and while Cinci was proven to be fraudulent in a Sugar Bowl blowout loss to Florida, we don’t know how Boise State or TCU would have stacked up against the big boys, because they were forced to play each other. The Broncos, of course, knocked off the Pac-10 champions Oregon this year. Verdict: Very unclear.

So in 12 years of its existence, the BCS has given us a sure-fire 1 vs. 2 matchup three times, and that includes 2002 when I believe the best team was actually left out. That’s not a very good batting average, even by Brandon Inge’s standards.

Is it better than the old system? Absolutely. But color TV was better than black and white TV. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have invented flat screens or HD.

College football is the greatest sport in the world. It deserves a championship system that fits that moniker, as well.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

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