The latest New Year's bowls show once again how well the Football Championship Subdivision playoff system works and how screwed up the BCS system remains
By David Coulson
Executive Editor/Managing Partner
College Sporting News
FRISCO, Tx. — I've got a confession to make. This die-hard, Football Championship Subdivision apologist found a little bit of time over the New Year's weekend to watch a couple of bowl games.
It wasn't much of a time investment, but I managed to view a replay of a quite good Rose Bowl game, with Texas Christian holding off Wisconsin by two points and the second half of Stanford's destruction of Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl.
I guess I can easily excuse my interest in the Orange Bowl. A former FCS coach, Jim Harbaugh (late of University of San Diego fame) was going up against an FBS team that had actually lost to an FCS school (James Madison) earlier in the year.
Though none of us around the College Sporting News keep up much with Bowl Championship Series facts and figures, this seems to be the first time an FBS squad with an FCS loss has been invited to the BCS party.
Now Stanford can say it did the same thing as a former FCS school (Boise State) and a current one (JMU).
The Cardinal (that's a color, not a bird for a mascot and I never have quite figured out why someone dressed up like a lunatic tree is dancing around on the sidelines of Stanford games) trounced Virginia Tech, obviously learning from the lessons taught by those current and former FCS associates.
And as a side note, I also enjoyed seeing a shot of Jim Harbaugh's dad, Jack, on the sideline, celebrating the victory with his son.
Jack Harbaugh enjoying a victory with one of his family members reminded me of the time the elder Harbaugh came into the postgame press conference after his Western Kentucky club beat McNeese State in the 2002 NCAA Division I National Football Championship game.
He brought several grandkids with him, including the one granddaughter he cradled in his lap while he answered questions about the Hilltoppers' win.
Somehow, I don't think that either Chip Kelly of Oregon (the former New Hampshire offensive coordinator, to keep this six degrees of FCS separation going), or Gene Chizak will be toting any children, or grandchildren to the interviews sessions after they give away that big, goofy crystal trophy next week in Glendale, Az. (is this Dancing With The Stars, or college football?).
Just goes to show you another reason why this writer loves FCS.
But one of the main reasons I admire the subdivision previously known as I-AA (Prince would have done well to have attended one of those purple-clad FCS schools like JMU, Northwestern State or Northern Iowa) is that they know how to settle an argument on the field of battle.
If it had been up to some computer, some combination of Appalachian State, Delaware, or William & Mary might have showed up this week to play for a title here in humble, old Frisco.
Delaware managed to punch a ticket to the title game by beating Lehigh, New Hampshire and Georgia Southern, but Appalachian State and William & Mary came up short with upset losses.
Another seeded team, Montana State, also found itself on the sideline after a loss to North Dakota State — the last of the 20 teams included in the field.
Like you are going to see that in the BCS system.
I doubt you would have found many Jeff Sagrin types waving Eastern Washington's flag, or the Eagles' Tabasco Turf either.
EWU was shockingly ranked No. 1 in a pair of polls when Appalachian State and Delaware dropped their regular-season finales, but the Eagles were only seeded fifth by the NCAA Division I football committee when it came time to draw up the playoff brackets.
It didn't matter, however, because Eastern Washington earned its trip to the title game by winning three games, beating strong squads from Southeast Missouri State and North Dakota State before dethroning defending national champion Villanova.
It also doesn't matter how many points Delaware might be favored by on Friday night, the Eagles have the chance to decide their championship fate on the playing field.
The same can't be said for teams like TCU and Stanford.
Both of these schools had reasonable arguments to say they should have been included in some sort of playoff for a Football Bowl Subdivision title.
But the idiots who run the top level of college football haven't figured out how to even run a four-team tournament, let alone the 16, or 20-team versions that our FCS friends have run so seamlessly over the years.
It's pretty hard to understand how Boise State (which beat both Oregon and TCU last season) in 2009 and TCU in 2010 could finish the bowl season undefeated and have no shot at a national crown.
The bozos that drive the BCS bus like to tell you how every game in the regular season counts in FBS
Of course, those are the same klutzes that would have liked to hide the fact that a playoff game between Appalachian State and Western Illinois, when it was innocently left out of one of the computer rankings used by the BCS nearly sent teams to the wrong bowl games.
You want to talk about every game counting?
I watched a thriller on the final week of the regular season when a four-loss Villanova team had to travel to top-seeded Delaware — the Wildcats' arch-rival — and knock off the Blue Hens 28-21 in overtime just to make the 20-team NCAA field.
On the same Saturday, it didn't matter how much tradition, or how many consecutive playoff appearances that Montana had made at the FCS level, or even how many fans the Grizzlies could fit into Washington-Grizzly Stadium for the first round of the playoffs.
When Montana lost its final regular-season game in the Brawl of the Wild to Montana State, the Grizzlies fell short of seven Division I wins and were out of contention. You want to tell Montana's rabid fans that every game doesn't count in FCS?
Of course, six D-I victories are enough to get nearly every mediocre team in the FBS universe into some podunk bowl game.
Maybe that's one of the reasons that Montana turned down the Western Athletic Conference when the WAC came courting earlier this season.
Now appearing in tonight's Acme Weedwacker Bowl, we have Villanova facing Appalachian State.
Is it too late to convince the powers that be at these two proud FCS institutions to follow Montana's lead?
Just say no to the Big East, you mighty Wildcats.
Nancy Reagan is ready to deliver the same message to you stout Mountaineers.
Every fan and athletic director with visions of holiday sugar plums, or at least BCS checks, dancing in their heads, dreams of being the next Boise State.
But the fact remains that a couple of missed field goals were enough to prevent the Broncos from their best shot of playing for a BCS championship.
Of course that narrow overtime loss to another former FCS team, Nevada, probably saved Boise State of the heartbreak of being snubbed for the second year in a row when the BCS announced its dance card.
Do you really think that the Pac-10 and the Southeastern Conference were going to let someone other than Oregon and Auburn play for their faux title?
Every team that chooses to be involved in the playoff process in FCS knows it has a route to the playoffs, if it plays a tough enough schedule and wins enough games, or if it earns one of 10 automatic qualifiersas a league champion.
The same can't be said for teams that compete in Conference USA, the Mid-American Conference, the Mountain West, the Sun Belt, or the WAC.
I'm not sure we will ever see the Atlantic Coast Conference, or the Big East ever get another berth in the BCS title spectacular.
The Big East managed to get Virginia Tech in a BCS championship game once in a galaxy far, far away from the current college football universe. And it seems like the other schools in the ACC have done more to bring the once powerhouse programs like Florida State and Miami down to their level than the other way around.
Those kind of questions don't need to be addressed at the FCS level.
We have a playoff system that works and I'm here in Frisco to see a true champion unveiled on Friday night.