Louisville: The Latest Poster Child for BCS Demise
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The Louisville Cardinals need two victories to make the BCS championship game.
Those triumphs will combine with ten walkovers to cap an undefeated season and a take-your-best-shot opportunity to win the Waterford crystal -- which is about the only thing Alabama's fumbled in the past two years -- as the top college football team in the land.
There's no doubt Louisville is an elite team this season. But take a look at this schedule:
|1 Sep||vs Ohio ... W 49-7|
|7 Sep||vs Eastern Kentucky ... W 44-7|
|14 Sep||at Kentucky|
|21 Sep||vs Florida International|
|5 Oct||at Temple|
|10 Oct||vs Rutgers|
|18 Oct||vs Central Florida|
|26 Oct||at South Florida|
|8 Nov||at Connecticut|
|16 Nov||vs Houston|
|23 Nov||vs Memphis|
|5 Dec||at Cincinnati|
Cardinals quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is the real deal. Barring catastrophic injury or Florida hurricane, he'll lead a turbocharged offense through that list of opponents like a vintage John Force at the Winternationals. Coach Charlie Strong has transformed what had become a moribund program at a phenomenal pace, and this season has all the elements to cement his team's spot in the national championship conversation.
It's the perfect storm. Soft sked. Hot QB. Lazy voters.
The latter have long been a mainstay in college football. Sportswriters who comprise the AP pollsters usually favor big-brand schools with strong traditions. Coaches who participate in the USA Today poll often defer their ballot to a sports information department flunky or, if they actually do the work themselves, vote up in-conference buddies for political reasons and opponents to enhance their schedule's image while voting down their rivals in the rankings.
Then there's the Harris poll. It was a noble idea, but has been found wanting from Day One.
Meanwhile, computers' roles have been constantly diminished in the BCS process, primarily because they don't distinguish big-brand, traditional programs from the great unwashed. However, they've been suitably compromised, anyway.
So, come late November, it doesn't matter if a team's been beating Southwest Nowhere State all season. The focus is solely on the number in the loss column. A one-loss Alabama or Ohio State will be in the running. A two-loss Stanford or Oregon -- and given the nine-game Pac-12 schedule, that would still be an accomplishment -- will not.
Even if losses would come from the likes of strong UCLA, Arizona State, or Washington teams -- plus, one will defeat the other on Thu 7 Nov -- the Ducks and Cardinal would be out of the national picture.
And most likely because of an undefeated Louisville.
But the Cardinals are not the villain here. That role goes to the college football culture itself, what with 'buying wins' through soft non-cons -- usually, anyway -- and each big-brand school's need to schedule six home games with an eye toward ...
Until or unless those two factors are effectively addressed, even a four-school playoff system will be tainted.