Utah: The Real National Champs

Garrett Ley

Every sane college football fan dreams of one thing: to one day watch a playoff featuring the country’s top teams; a tournament that would truly produce a real “winner.” Unfortunately that thought remains a dream, as we are presently stuck with the B(C)S. This computer generated system takes many factors into account, and after all the games have been played, the computer spits out two teams it wants to play for a national championship.

In sports, mantras such as “Just Win, Baby” have dominated our culture, implying that no matter what happens, everything is fine as long as your team has more points than the other. However, the BCS does not live by this unspoken rule, as apparently teams need to do more than just win each of their games. It is this broken rule that is to blame for the Utah Utes not being awarded a national championship.

Some people may have just read that last sentence and shook their heads, thinking no mid-major team should ever be awarded something traditionally left to a team from one of the six “power” conferences. But the excuses for looking elsewhere with the trophy are just that, reasons that don’t stand up under further review. Here are three of those excuses in favor of the BCS and why they’re just wrong:

1. Teams from mid-major conferences (such as the Mountain West, Utah’s conference) never play hard enough schedules.

This year the Mountain West had three ranked teams, Utah at #4, TCU at #7 and Brigham Young at #21. Meanwhile the Atlantic Coast Conference had Virginia Tech at #15, Georgia Tech at #22 and Florida State at #23, the Big Ten had Penn State at #8, Ohio State at #11 and Iowa at #20, while the Big East only had Cincinnati at #17. If one looked at rankings alone, the Mountain West would seem to be the superior conference. Yet, if a team from any of the “Big Six” conferences had gone undefeated there would have been no question they would have been in the title game.

But Utah didn’t just ride the coattails of their conference strength this year; they also scheduled tough non-conference games. They beat #18 Oregon State, the team that upset USC, and although the Michigan had a down year, Utah beat the Wolverines in their own house. Oh, not to mention, Utah’s thrashing of #6 Alabama in the Sugar Bowl further cemented this team as the best in college football this season.

2. Utah has an argument for a national championship, but I still think Florida, USC or Texas is more deserving.

This argument could be quelled with a trite “Which team has a “0” on the right side of their record,” but I’ll go ahead and explain in further detail why this is wrong. The easiest argument to disprove is that of USC. The Trojans were in my opinion the most talented team in the nation, yet the fact of the matter is their one loss came to a team that Utah beat. Rarely do schedules work out so perfectly for voters to look at, but one team beat the Beavers, and the other didn’t.

It’s not as cut and dry with Florida. The Ole Miss Rebels were the one team to beat Florida this year, and the Utes did not get the fortune of playing them. However Utah did get a chance to play Alabama, a team that had beaten the Rebels 24-20 during the Regular Season. Mississippi lost three other times as well, making the Gator’s slip-up a bit less forgivable.

Finally, we have Texas, whose one loss came to Texas Tech. During the regular season this loss wasn’t looked down upon because it was widely believed that Tech was one of the most talented teams in the nation. However, in the Cotton Bowl Tech was thoroughly dominated by the aforementioned Mississippi Rebels, putting doubt in the public’s mind, not only about the quality of Texas Tech but about the quality of the Big 12 in general. It’s hard to blame Texas for a one-point loss, but the bottom line is Utah didn’t lose any games.

3. If teams win and take care of business, the BCS nonsense will work itself out in the end.

Oh wait, that never happened.

The bottom line is this: if you are going to have a system that pits two teams against each other, without a playoff, undefeated teams with anything but truly “cupcake” schedules must be allowed in the championship game. If a team like Utah couldn’t win the National Championship with its body of work this year, will a mid-major ever have a shot at winning an NCAA title under the BCS? Or we could just have a playoff and scrap the whole thing…