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The Inside Track | Chris Dufresne / ON COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Here's a Fond Farewell to Those BCS Pretenders

October 27, 2003|Chris Dufresne

Northern Illinois was fun while it lasted, but it's now officially bedtime for the non-BCS kids.

Seems as if every year we go through this, some upstart school from the other side of the conference tracks making noise about being excluded from college football's members-only club, and every year the powers that be getting off the hook.

So what we have is another season and another case closed.

Northern Illinois' convincing loss to Bowling Green on Saturday pretty much takes care of the controversy.

Northern Illinois was No. 10 in the first bowl championship series standings and making a bid to become the first non-BCS team to make a major bowl.

The Huskies had no margin for error. They needed to win all their games and finish No. 6 or higher to earn an automatic bid, which seemed unlikely but not impossible.

The scarier prospect for BCS bowl officials was for Northern Illinois to finish No. 12 or better and be eligible for one of two at-large picks amid the anticipated public furor and clamor.

Publicly, officials from the Orange, Fiesta and Rose bowls would have been effusive in their praise.

Fiesta: Of course we're interested in Northern Illinois. Don't you realize DeKalb is almost a suburb of Chicago? Don't you realize the Cubs train in the Phoenix area? Our business leaders are ecstatic.

Rose: Ohio State versus Northern Illinois is a dream matchup. In fact, we hear DeKalb is the capital for barbed wire and we can't wait to see their float.

Orange: We think Northern Illinois in South Florida would be a perfect fit. Jose Canseco says he'd be happy to pick the team up at the airport.

Privately, major bowl executives have been poking voodoo pins in Huskie dolls for weeks now.

Today, men in bright colored jackets are rejoicing over a decision they never would have made while pretending all along they might have made it.

Now, the subject does not even have to be broached.

Northern Illinois, we have some fine parting gifts ...

The non-BCS people fighting this fight must now take their case to Congress -- don't miss this week's U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee meetings -- and can still make a decent case that the BCS is a monopoly.

The BCS will counter and say Northern Illinois had a fair shot at being selected for a major bowl under the rules but took itself out of the mix with an ugly road loss.

As it stands, Northern Illinois will have to fight to win its own conference, the Mid-American.

The non-BCS people may try to strike a match for Texas Christian, which is the only non-BCS school left without a loss.

But TCU is your classic paper tiger. The best team the Horned Frogs have played might be Navy, which Saturday lost to I-AA Delaware.

In Saturday's 62-55 win over Houston, TCU gave up 684 yards.

Check please ...

Bowling Green? Nice try.

For better or worse, the BCS big boys run the show from here on in and our full attention turns to the corporate money-grabbers.

Consider the games this week with BCS and national-title implications: Oklahoma State at Oklahoma, Nebraska at Texas, Washington State at USC, Miami at Virginia Tech, Georgia vs. Florida, Michigan at Michigan State.

Northern Illinois who?

Antitrust what?

No one said college football was fair. Congress might one day decide the system is illegal.

But until then, especially in the case of Northern Illinois and all the debate, it sure has been a hoot.

*

Weekend Wrap

How's this for a scenario? Virginia Tech beats Miami, leaving Oklahoma as the only major team in the national-title race.

In a battle of one-loss teams, Florida State jumps Miami in the BCS standings and ends up No. 2 behind Oklahoma. Miami fans are rightly outraged because the Hurricanes defeated Florida State, soundly, at Tallahassee.

It could be 2000 all over again, when Florida State edged Miami by 0.32 of a point for the No. 2 BCS spot and played Oklahoma for the national title. That year, Miami beat Florida State too.

What UCLA is doing right now is almost mind-boggling, sharing the Pacific 10 Conference lead in late October despite having the nation's 110th-ranked offense. And get this: Should USC defeat Washington State and UCLA defeat Stanford, the Bruins will have sole possession of first place and the inside track to the Rose Bowl.

Of course, UCLA closes at Washington State, at home against Oregon and at USC, so don't order tickets just yet.

News item: Bobby Bowden passes Joe Paterno for major college coaching victories.

Reaction: If Paterno doesn't get things turned around fast, Bowden is going to blow by Paterno like Nolan Ryan blew by Steve Carlton in the all-time strikeout race.

What to look for in today's second BCS standings: How much will Georgia's 16-13 win over Alabama Birmingham hurt the Bulldogs in what could be a decimal fight?

Remember, all the one-loss contenders are going to move up a spot because of No. 3 Virginia Tech's odorous loss.

Georgia was No. 4 in the first BCS standings, but only 0.84 of a point ahead of No. 7 USC.

Congratulations to Buffalo, which won its first game this season, and to Rutgers, which won its first Big East Conference game this century.

Welcome back to the Heisman Trophy race ... Mississippi quarterback Eli Manning. Archie Manning, Eli's dad, has told the school not to promote his son for the award but what can Archie say if Eli leads Ole Miss to the Southeastern Conference title? Mississippi is 6-2 overall and 4-0 in the SEC West, where a Nov. 22 showdown with Louisiana State looms.

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