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BCS standings have some practice runs before they're still not ready

If polls like USA Today's are any indication, there will be kinks to work out of the BCS standings, set for an Oct. 18 debut.

October 01, 2009|CHRIS DUFRESNE

Harris Interactive wasn't about to be Harris Hyperactive like those other polls that haphazardly published in August, before anyone knew who was who or what was Washington.

Harris would let the season marinate a few weeks, and then it came out Sunday with a top seven that was identical to polls submitted by voting coaches and the Associated Press.

See how much sense waiting made?

It's the start of silly season, when people like slick political maven James "It's the economy, stupid" Carville weigh in on "It's the BCS, stupid," a corrupt system that allowed his favorite school, Louisiana State, to snag only two national titles since 2003.

One of the years, LSU had two losses.

"This system is no good," Carville ranted this week to CBS College Sports Network. "I pull against it every time. I hope there are three undefeated teams in the country, and I hope it's just a big mess. That's the one thing I pull for more than anything in college football, that the BCS just turns into a big, rotten mess."

If only running college football was as clean, fair and aboveboard as running a political campaign.

Anyway, if polls are any indication, Carville is going to get his warped wish.

And so is the Bowl Championship Series, which has cashed controversy and imperfection into through-the-roof ratings and, thanks to networks like CBS and ESPN, a giant ATM machine.

Ready, set . . . OK, they're not ready yet. The first of two BCS standings "practice runs" will be conducted this weekend in advance of the first BCS standings being released on Oct. 18.

There are obviously kinks to be worked out.

The encouraging news is the Associated Press this week produced a poll you would almost be proud to show to your kids, its voters actually looking at box scores before turning in their ballots.

Iowa's defeating Penn State required that Iowa be ranked ahead of Penn State, and Oregon's defeating Cal by 39 warranted the Ducks being put in a row above the Bears.

The bad news: The AP pulled out of the BCS formula five years ago, claiming it was a conflict of interest even though it had actually been conflicted, with interest, since 1998.

So that leaves us, regrettably so far, with the two polls that will be used in the BCS.

After a review of this week's USA Today poll, we know why the coaches want their votes to be anonymous again, actually commissioning a consulting firm in the spring to deliver the news they all wanted to hear: that final ballots should be anonymous, starting in 2010. Except this isn't going to pass the stink test with anyone, including BCS commissioners, so expect a reversal of field.

Why wouldn't the coaches want to be exposed?

This week, after Oregon cleaned house on No. 6 Cal, the coaches warmly welcomed the Ducks back to the poll . . . at No. 25.

Wait a minute. Oregon just beat No. 6, the Ducks' only loss was to No. 5 Boise State, and that makes Oregon the last team in?

Since losing to Boise, Oregon has defeated Purdue, ended Utah's 16-game winning streak and held the team with Jahvid Best to a field goal.

But go ahead and pencil in Cal at No. 19.

The 114-member Harris panel, with all its due diligence and deliberation, did the same thing, putting Penn State at No. 12, three spots ahead of Iowa, and No. 21 California ahead of No. 23 Oregon.

Maybe Harris should have waited a little longer to debut. Say, the last weekend of February?

If Florida and Texas don't lose, none of this will matter.

But if one or the other or both go down, the BCS could get so messed up LSU might beat Boise State to win another national title.

And you thought James Carville was ticked off now. . . .

Blitz package

* You can't make it up: Fresno State Coach Pat Hill missed his weekly Western Athletic Conference call because he was ordered to take a work furlough day. Hill actually deserves overtime pay. His Bulldogs have lost three games to teams with a combined 12-0 record -- Wisconsin, Boise State and Cincinnati. Fresno will lead the country in something this year: 23,354 miles traveled for road games.

* Wanted: four University of Houston helmets stolen on the field during last weekend's post-Texas Tech victory celebration. "There's still time; we don't play until Saturday, and we don't leave until Friday," Houston Coach Kevin Sumlin said. "We'd love to get them all back."

* Upset alert: The most dangerous week for a school after a seminal victory is the week after the victory. Washington followed its big win over USC with a loss at Stanford. Houston takes its No. 12 ranking to Texas El Paso (1-3). And it's homecoming.

* Where he is now: Larry Coker, who coached Miami to the national title in 2001 with a Rose Bowl victory against Nebraska, is starting a program from scratch at Texas San Antonio. The Roadrunners will play at the Alamodome beginning in 2011. Coker told the New York Times that, for equipment, he has one helmet. Hmmm, was Coker in Houston last weekend?

* You can't call them Texas Text: Coach Mike Leach has banned Twitter use for all Red Raiders players and called tweeters "a bunch of narcissists that want to sit and type stuff about themselves all the time."

Read my thoughts on Leach, and what I had for lunch, at Also, congratulations to USC narcissist/coach Pete Carroll, who has topped 45,000 followers on his Twitter account.

* What antitrust lawyers want to know: Can Boise State make it all the way to the top? The Broncos' No. 5 ranking is the school's highest during the regular season. Boise State finished No. 5 in the final AP poll after the 2006 season. Oklahoma can tell you how.


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