Who's the Bigger Loser: Ohio State or the MAC?
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Crawling through the wreckage of broken BCS dreams, ironies are among the prevalent detritus.
Oregon, for example, almost got its wish to meet Alabama. It just wouldn't have been in the BCS championship game. The Ducks and Crimson Tide would have made an interesting pairing in the Sugar Bowl. However, Oklahoma got the nod to face Alabama and thus sends Oregon to the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio.
Urban Meyer had been making the argument -- and that of many others -- that an undefeated team should trump a one-loss team for a title spot regardless of schedule strength. Well, even if that position prevailed, there's only one team with an unblemished record right now, and it isn't his. Worse, there are two-loss teams out there with better signature wins -- based on quality of opposition -- than Ohio State.
The Buckeyes had to run a sparsely-set table and blew it. Plain and simple.
But this pales in comparison to that of the Mid-American Conference.
Northern Illinois was in prime position to return to a BCS bowl. The Huskies were not only ranked highly enough -- Top 14 on the BCS list -- to earn a berth, they were also ranked ahead of a so-called Automatic Qualifying conference champion; that was the AAC's Central Florida. All they needed to do was conquer a 9-3 Bowling Green team in the MAC championship. The Falcons had finished strong, and under program-building coach Dave Clawson, they'd become a handful. Northern Illinois discovered just how much on Friday night, which put paid to that BCS reprise.
On a continent where tanking is part of the sporting vocabulary, give Bowling Green full marks for its natural integrity. Had they simply lain down, they'd get a share of the $17million payout that would accompany the Huskies' BCS bowl appearance. So this triumph cost them serious dosh.
This was a classic Pyhrric victory. Win the battle. Lose the war.
Northern Illinois, though, already knew this was a double-edged situation. Yes, the Huskies cashed in last season by showing up at the Orange Bowl -- and that's about all they did -- but most of the money was gone before it was paid.
Under the BCS payout formula, non-AQ teams like the MAC get a 9% piece of the net revenue pie. Most conferences, like the MAC, share the spoils with their brethren members if a team makes a BCS bowl. As with everything else that replaces the BCS system, this gets better for them next season. How much better is still being determined.
But that's next season. Right now, Northern Illinois, Bowling Green, and the other MACsters are in easy-come-easy-go mode. The Falcons have much reason to cheer, but the state of their athletic department's bottom line isn't one of them.
Meanwhile, Ohio State's balance sheet is well ahead of the game. If only the same could be said about this year's football team.