ESPN set social media on fire last night when Kirk Herbstreit and others discussed the Northern Illinois BCS Bowl Bid.
For those that don’t know, I’ll recap it breifly:
According to BCS rules, a non-AQ conference champion will receive an automatic bid to a BCS bowl game if: a) they are ranked in the top 16, b) ranked ahead of a BCS conference champion.
Check and check. NIU did what they had to do.
Was Kirk and company wrong in what they said? No. At least, not in my opinion. I also feel that many people misinterpreted what they were saying. Did they say NIU was an awful team? I didn’t hear that. What I heard was them saying NIU being in a BCS game was a joke BECAUSE of that asinine rule.
Could they have went after Louisville? Sure. But they’ve talked about the automatic bids for BCS conferences in years past and it is pretty much accepted at this point. The reason much more time was focused on NIU is because it’s the first time that rule has put an undeserving team into the BCS.
And no matter which way you slice it… NIU does not belong in the Orange Bowl. Sorry NIU fans, but that’s just reality.
Now, let me move on to the other side of the argument.
NIU supporters are yelling: “It’s just as stupid that Louisville and Wisconsin are in!”
I’ll give you Louisville. But leave Wisconsin out of this. They belong. Why?
Because it is the Rose Bowl. The annual, long-standing, Pac-12 vs. Big 10 Bowl. The Rose Bowl’s rule pre-BCS and post-BCS is that the champions of those two conferences will meet (unless one or both are going for a national championship). Hence, Wisconsin winning the Big Ten Championship moves them to that historic bowl.
You can sit back and argue all you want that those BCS Bowls deserve to have the top teams in them, but when the BCS was implemented what did we hear from those same people? That the bowl tie-ins needed to stay because we love the traditional match-ups. Big Ten/Pac-12 Rose Bowl, ACC to the Orange, SEC to the Sugar, and so on. In no uncertain terms did fans around the nation make it clear that they did not want their bowl to be messed with. And the bowl committees agreed, as they wanted it to be the same as well (sans national championship of course).
Therefore, any argument that X non-AQ school getting in to those bowl games OR any of the tie-in winners not going to those are just silly. Put in NIU over Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl and see what kind of reaction you get.
Somewhere along the line the BCS became the goat. The BCS “system” is only designed to rank teams to find out who will play for the national championship. The bowl committees and conferences are responsible for the other rules concerning bowls.
Do not beat your anti-BCS drum over this. It is not its fault. Furthermore, nothing has really changed historically. Abolish the BCS and the Rose Bowl is still going to take Big Ten vs. Pac-12 champion. And furthermore again, without the BCS rules NIU isn’t going to the Orange Bowl as they would not select them. You can’t have it both ways.
The Big East has remained grandfathered in because of the rules. You have to remember that when the BCS “Six” first started the Big East was a very good football conference that had Miami and/or Virginia Tech always in the top five. Look at the first years of the BCS and they made it to the title game often. Conference re-alignment destroyed the conference.
NIU should get in ahead of Louisville, because the Big East does not have a bowl tie-in. However, neither deserve it. And the reason NIU, as I repeat myself, is getting the backlash moreso than Louisville is that the “talking heads” and fans have already complained about low ranked or unranked conference champions in years past — this was something new and fresh that hadn’t really happened before.
I completely agree that Oklahoma deserves a bid over both. Hell, if it were up to me there would be no tie-ins and the top 12 teams would play in BCS Bowls regardless of conference. That’s a pipe dream, and bowls are about interesting match-ups anyway.
As I wind down the post let me also say this: The BCS “Six” were going to get their BCS money regardless of who went. So does it matter that Wisconsin is in over Nebraska? No. And that’s to put history and the love of the Rose Bowl aside.
Kirk and others are not made because the “little guy” got in. These are the same people who were championing TCU, Boise State, and others for years. They are simply making the point that NIU’s ranking and spot in the BCS is not deserved. They are arguing that this “rule” is silly. And they are right.
As I mentioned above, bowl season is about interesting match-ups anyway. NIU vs. Florida State is fine by me. NIU vs. Arkansas State would have been just as much fun for me. NIU did nothing wrong and took advantage of a dumb rule. That’s all.
Fact remains, they do not belong in the game. But it is very much winnable.