|BAGNATO ON FOOTBALL: BCS could spell bad news for No. 2 Oregon and No. 16 Hawaii|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 14 November 2007 11:57|
That may be bad news for Oregon and good news for Hawaii.
The Ducks want to hold on to their No. 2 ranking and earn a spot in the Bowl Championship Series title game in New Orleans. They don't need anything to change between now and the Dec. 2 BCS selections.
No. 16 Hawaii is four spots out of a guaranteed BCS berth, worth more than $9 million to the Western Athletic Conference. The Warriors need a lot to happen between now and Dec. 2.
The Ducks and the Warriors have one thing in common: neither controls its own BCS destiny. Both teams have reasons to be nervous heading into nationally televised games this week - Oregon at Arizona on Thursday night and Hawaii at Nevada on Friday night.
``Right now, it's wait and see because there are so many games to be played and so many scenarios,'' Pac-10 commissioner Tom Hansen said last week. ``Everybody's looking at it and thinking about it. But we've got to see how it all plays out.''
Start with Oregon, which moved to No. 2 after top-ranked Ohio State lost last week to Illinois. The Ducks only have to sweep Arizona, UCLA and Oregon State and they can start making reservations for the French Quarter, right?
Wrong. It's possible that No. 3 Kansas or No. 4 Oklahoma, and maybe even No. 5 Missouri, could vault Oregon in the final standings.
The Ducks (8-1, 5-1 Pac-10) know better than to trust the BCS, which has burned them twice.
The first time was in 2001, when the Ducks finished second in The Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN polls but fourth in the BCS standings. The BCS computers ushered Nebraska - which hadn't even won its own Big 12 division - past the Ducks and into the Rose Bowl, site of the national title game.
Four years later, Oregon officials tried to get ahead of the game, flying to Tempe, Ariz., to lobby the Fiesta Bowl for a bid. It turned out to be a wasted trip because the Fiesta was obligated to match No. 6 Notre Dame and No. 4 Ohio State. The fifth-ranked Ducks were caught in the middle of BCS fine print.
``2001 and 2005 were both very difficult situations for the University of Oregon, ones in which we felt we were really wronged,'' coach Mike Bellotti said. ``I still don't understand it, and I'm not going to waste my time thinking about it.''
The BCS had better be careful about hosing the Ducks a third time, or Nike founder and Oregon benefactor Phil Knight might just buy the system and shut it down.
And BCS officials wouldn't want an angry Oregon mascot showing up at their door on Dec. 2. The Duck, remember, was suspended for a game earlier this year after pummeling the Houston Cougar.
Bellotti says his team will do its lobbying on the field.
``I'm not going to start politicking for anything,'' Bellotti said. ``Our focus is worrying about what we can control.''
In reality, the Ducks lost control of their BCS destiny the moment the football slipped out of receiver Cameron Colvin's hands as he tried to stretch it across the goal line in a 31-24 loss to California on Sept. 29. That dramatic play, which went to an official review, is the only thing separating the Ducks from perfection.
For Hawaii, even perfection might not be enough. The Warriors (9-0, 6-0 Western Athletic Conference) may find themselves on an island in more ways than one.
If the Warriors hope to become the third non-BCS school to crash college football's postseason party, they have to finish in the top 12 of the BCS standings. They're four slots away with games against Nevada, Boise State and Washington remaining.
The two BCS polls rate the Warriors 11th and 12th. The computers peg them at No. 27 - one rung behind once-beaten WAC rival Boise State and only a few spots north of the Marshall Islands.
Hawaii is taking flak for a schedule that includes two Football Championship Subdivision teams, formerly known as Division I-AA. Hawaii's first nine opponents have a combined .259 winning percentage.
``You've got to understand that this team has played the worst schedule in the 10-year history of the BCS, by a lot,'' said BCS analyst Jerry Palm, who runs the collegebcs.com Web site from Indiana. ``I look at this team and I think, they're no better than seventh or eighth in the Big Ten.''
WAC commissioner Karl Benson takes issue with that. He said the schedule isn't Hawaii's fault; the Warriors lost a date with Michigan State and ended up filling it with a second lower-division opponent.
``They offered to play games on the mainland,'' he said. ``They offered to play at Michigan, at Indiana. They were willing to go on the road to fill a game.''
Tell that to the computers.
Palm said the Warriors can expect a bump in the computers if they beat 5-4 Nevada (that's their record, not their height) and 9-1 Boise State. But the computers may hold their noses when Hawaii meets 3-7 Washington, its lone BCS-level opponent.
If Hawaii wins out, Palm gives the Warriors ``better than a 50-50 shot'' of finishing in the BCS Top 12, which would mean a guaranteed BCS berth, probably in the Sugar Bowl, for Colt Brennan and Co.
Oregon's chances of reaching the title game may be better than 50-50. Or they may not. Nobody can say for sure.
All we know about the BCS is that we never know about the BCS.
Andrew Bagnato covers college football for The Associated Press. Write to him at abagnato(at)ap.org.