Bob Stoops laments unfair BCS system that benefited Oklahoma anyway

USA TODAY Sports

Bob Stoops called out the BCS for unfairly keeping his team from playing last season, an argument that defied logic, facts, and a beautiful history of his Oklahoma teams shafting others thanks to a dying system.

Bob Stoops is bummed out about the BCS. You see, last year, his Oklahoma team went 10-2 in the regular season and finished the year ranked No. 11 in the BCS standings. But Northern Illinois got to go to a BCS game, despite playing a much weaker MAC schedule.

That made Stoops disappointed. And with the upcoming College Football Playoff, Stoops is worried that human voters won't be able to avoid their biases and note strength of schedule. He used what happened to his team last year as an example.

"Going into the bowl games, Northern Illinois had one loss, we had two," Stoops said. "Theirs was to Iowa, right? Ours were to Notre Dame and K-State. And they're ranked ahead of us - well, they got the bid to the BCS bowl ahead of us."

"If they went through our whole schedule, would they have been 11-1? I doubt it," Stoops said. "So obviously then, the voters, it didn't matter that much to 'em. And it's not right."

Let's ignore the fact that Stoops' Oklahoma squad showed it didn't belong in a BCS game by getting rocked by Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl.

Let's also ignore that Georgia, LSU, Texas A&M and South Carolina were ranked higher than Oklahoma at the end of the year, but were also unable to play in BCS games due to the fact only two teams from each conference are allowed.

Let's tackle the biggest logical flaw with Stoops' argument: voters did not see Oklahoma go 10-2 and Northern Illinois go 11-1 with a win in the MAC Championship game and rank Northern Illinois higher. In the AP Poll for Week 15, the Sooners were No. 12, and the Huskies were No. 16. In the Coaches and Harris Polls, Oklahoma was ranked 11th, and NIU was 16th. This led to Oklahoma being ranked No. 11 in the final BCS standings and NIU being ranked No. 16. You'll notice that Oklahoma is higher than Northern Illinois in all of those.

However, the BCS, which in almost every conceivable way was stacked towards teams from power conferences, had a provision on the books that non-BCS teams finishing 16th or higher in their rankings would get an automatic berth to a BCS bowl game. (Note: the usefulness of this rule was demonstrated in 2006, when Stoops' own Oklahoma squad lost to a Boise State team that earned the automatic non-AQ berth.)

If Stoops' claim is that human voters judged Oklahoma to be worse than Northern Illinois after a 12-game regular season, he's wrong. Voters just judged that Northern Illinois was No. 16, which meant that the rules, arbitrary as they seem, allowed the Huskies an opportunity to compete in a more prestigious game than Oklahoma's.

If Stoops has qualms with those rules, fine. However, it should be noted that on several occasions, BCS rules arbitrary and otherwise have played to Stoops' benefit.

2010

Oklahoma finished 6-2 in conference, but by virtue of winning the conference championship game, represented the Big 12 in the BCS.

In a reasonable world, it would have faced a challenging opponent: perhaps an 11-1 Boise State team. But because TCU took the only automatic bid for non-AQ teams, that Broncos squad would play in the Maaco Bowl. Instead, OU got to play the Big East champions, an 8-4 Connecticut team it trounced, 48-20.

2008

Oklahoma was one of a handful of one-loss teams after the regular season. Congrats!

But the BCS decided that instead of playing undefeated Utah, it would play 12-1 Florida. As you can see, the BCS does account for strength of schedule, and Oklahoma's was tougher than Utah's.

2006

Oklahoma finished the year 11-2, winning the Big 12 Championship. Again, congrats!

However, the Big 12 wasn't strong this year. Oklahoma and Texas were the only teams to finish the year ranked. The Big Ten and SEC, however, were: Wisconsin and Auburn finished the year ranked ahead of OU, at No. 7 and No. 9 in the BCS standings, while Oklahoma finished the year ranked No. 10.

But because those teams were each the third teams in their respective conferences, they watched at home as Oklahoma played in the Fiesta Bowl against Boise State.

2004

Stoops' team was once again undefeated after the regular season. Damn! He's a really good coach!

However, he was once again not alone: USC, Utah, and Auburn were also undefeated. Alas, if only there existed some four-team playoff that could whittle this set of four perfect squads down to one. But no such system existed.

Due in part to the perceived strength of its schedule, Oklahoma got to play USC in the national championship game, while Auburn won the Sugar Bowl and Utah won the Fiesta Bowl.

2003

Man, another crazy conundrum! Oklahoma, LSU, and USC all finished the season with one loss. But USC played one less game, on account of the Pac-10 not having a championship game. Although the Trojans finished the year on top of the AP Poll, only the BCS poll counts, and in that one, Oklahoma was No. 1. It got to play LSU in the national championship game.

Mr. Stoops, the evidence shows that you are quite a fine coach. In your 14 seasons at the helm at Oklahoma, your team has appeared in BCS bowls eight times, playing for the national championship four times. That's incredible.

But I couldn't help but notice that in this article, wherein you point out that part of your team's less-than-glamorous finish to the 2012 season was due to human voters, you said this:

"There's an agenda to everything everybody does," he said. "Pretty much. Right? Be honest."

Again, you're right this case, your agenda is damn clear. You feel your team got shafted by this past season and want to make sure it doesn't happen again. But it should also be noted that more often than not, those same arbitrary rules have led to your team being given spectacular opportunities, opportunities that more often than not you didn't take advantage of.

It's for the best that the tired, little-loved BCS gets axed going forward. But for Stoops to call out the BCS' non-AQ allowance the year after it hurt his team after he benefitted from its capricious, arbitrary preferences year-after-year is a brilliant combination of brazenness and blindness.

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