Friday, November 11, 2005

BCS Still Causing Controversy

With two more undefeated teams going down last week, only three -- USC, Texas and Alabama -- enter this weekend without a loss. If all three win out, an unbeaten team will be excluded from the BCS championship game for the second year in a row.

Last season, USC, Oklahoma and Auburn all finished the regular season undefeated. USC and Oklahoma met in the national championship game, the Orange Bowl. Auburn beat Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl. USC finished at the top of both polls, effectively winning a consensus national championship.

"I felt bad for Auburn last year," said USC fullback Brandon Hancock.

A year earlier, it was the Trojans who were squeezed out of the BCS title game, even though they the top spot in both human polls. Oklahoma played LSU in the Sugar Bowl; USC defeated Michigan in the Rose Bowl and won the AP national championship. The coaches, contractually obligated to vote for the winner of the Sugar Bowl, chose LSU.

The BCS continues to spark fervent debate among college football fans. Earlier this season, USC briefly dropped behind Texas even though they far outdistanced the Longhorns in both human polls, thanks Texas' strong showing in the computer ranking component of the BCS formula. Those computer rankings are the product of complicated formulas devised by mathematicians with no practical football experience.

"It's like having a dentist operate on a foot," said Hancock, who has been asked to be part of a debate on the BCS system.

Seeing as how mathematicians get to select the best team in football, one wonders what would happen if the shoe was on the other foot and football players were relied on to devise mathematical formulas.

"It just wouldn't be right," said USC tailback Desmond Reed. "I mean, we're just football players." When asked to name his favorite equation, Reed replied, "a2 + b2 = c2."

If he had to suggest a teammate to devise a formula, Reed said he would pick Hancock, who is generally considered the best student on the team.

Hancock would rather not focus on formulas at all. "A computer doesn't know the intangibles," he said. "The AP and coaches poll are more credible."

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