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College Football: Bigger isn't always better

By Caulton Tudor
Raleigh News & Observer
Texas wasn’t the only team that got low-bowled in the approaching college football postseason games.
Utah, at 12-0, has good reason to complain, too. But what about 12-0 Boise State, which finished No. 9 in The Associated Press’ final regular-season poll?
The Broncos did bag what is certain to be a much-welcomed trip to a warm-weather port, San Diego, where they’ll meet a 10-2 Texas Christian team in the Dec. 23 Poinsettia Bowl.
A good guess at the final score is something in the 35-31 range, thereby equating to a defensive standoff by Big 12 Conference standards. But even if the Broncos get knocked around in the game, they are still the latest example of how badly the Bowl Championship Series big hitters need to find a way to make more room near the top for overachievers.
If nothing else, there should have been a way to clear the Fiesta Bowl (11-1 Texas vs. 10-2 Ohio State) for a meeting between Utah and Boise State on Jan. 5 in Glendale, Ariz.
The big misconception about the BCS format is that the so-called smaller leagues are inferior by design. Has everyone forgotten the fact that eventual Conference USA champ East Carolina defeated eventual ACC champ Virginia Tech on a neutral field to start the season? That 27-22 win by the Pirates was no fluke. The real fluke about that game was that the Pirates didn’t win by two touchdowns.
Look, I’m not dumb enough to think that East Carolina, year after year, has what it takes to hang with Virginia Tech, any more than I believe Boise State is capable of winning consistently against Oklahoma. But when those teams met in the Fiesta Bowl after the 2006 season, Boise State claimed a 43-42 win over the No. 7 Sooners in a game that years from now will rate among the most exciting bowls in history.
The one thing (other than income) that the BCS is formatted to discard is the importance of intangibles, three of which are coaching, player development and old-fashion incentive.
Here’s another way to look at it: Had the BCS been in charge of the 2006 NCAA basketball tournament, George Mason would not have received a bid, much less a No. 11 regional seeding. That team defeated North Carolina. A year later, Virginia Commonwealth would have been overlooked. That team, another No. 11 seed, upset Duke.
Indiana State, the 1979 title runner-up to Michigan State in what ranks among the biggest television college basketball audiences of all time, would have been fortunate to have landed a slot in the NIT.
The BCS and the NCAA basketball tournament obviously are entirely separate animals, even though both function on the common motive of deriving as much money as possible from television. But one (basketball) operates on the big-tent theory while the other (BCS) lives too much in a pup tent.
There was a time in this country, however, when Toyota was considered to be too far removed from the mainstream to have any sort of major impact on the national automotive industry.

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