Here's how bad a columnist Rick Reilly is. I hate the BCS. I have railed against the BCS since time immemorial. I have slandered the entire state of Georgia in my arguments against this abomination. And yet Reilly writes one column about how unfair the BCS system is, and I feel like defending the BCS.
It is a truly horrible column, based on the idea that there were 10 undefeated teams at the time of writing, so there will be six by the end of the season, and the BCS will pass over five of them to stage a rematch between LSU and Alabama. He knows this, because:
The BCS is so SEC-bent that even if the Sooners beat undefeated and fourth-ranked Oklahoma State in the Bedlam Bowl, there's insane talk that if the LSU-Bama game is close those two would play again in the title game.
There's talk! Well then, we might as well shut the season down and go home. Reilly goes through every undefeated team, pointing out their resume and how unfair it would be should they be passed over for the BCS championship in favor of the one-loss SEC team the talk has anointed. And that would be unfair. Also, ludicrous.
First of all, there's always a half a dozen or more undefeated teams at this point in the season, and most of them are going to lose. The fact that there will be upset wouldn't be a bold prediction even if Oklahoma and Wisconsin hadn't both had their undefeated seasons ruined; I think Sooner and Badger fans should blame Reilly for last night's losses, as he both tempted fate and pulled Bob Stoops away from valuable preparation time to ask him about a hypothetical screwing by the BCS. Oklahoma was the preseason number one team. Had they gone undefeated, they would play in the national championship. As would Stanford, Oklahoma State, Clemson, and probably Kansas State. (Boise State and Houston, of course, can be screwed with impunity. I'll write another angry blog post when that happens, for all the good it does.)
Because here's the thing. Reilly constantly claims "the BCS" will screw over the myriad of undefeated teams, but there is no "the BCS." There are six computers, which when averaged together and tossed aside still only make up a third of the rankings. Who plays in the championship game is determined by coaches and media folks. And they're not going to leave an big undefeated team on the sidelines. Sure, they may elevate a one-loss Alabama over a one-loss Oklahoma (not likely, though) if Stanford and Clemson both drop a game. And there will be a lot of talk about an Alabama-LSU rematch, because ESPN has many hours of programming to fill, but it won't happen. Voters drop teams when they lose, and even if the computers found agreed that the SEC was overwhelmingly better than everyone else – and they never agree on anything – they just don't matter that much in the final scheme of things. An undefeated SEC champion will play someone from another conference. I guarantee it.
(In fact, to go back to the last time there was a late-season rematch for the championship, you have to head to the Bowl Alliance days, when Florida and Florida State played in 1996. And that only happened because a two-loss Texas team beat undefeated Nebraska in the Big XII championship and undefeated Arizona State and one-loss Ohio State were obligated to play in the Rose Bowl, where ASU lost.)
But what really gets me about the column, more than anything else, is this passage about Clemson:
Only Alabama has a tougher schedule among The Ten as seventh-ranked Clemson (7-0). If the Tigers go undefeated, they'll have beaten everybody but the Chinese army -- Auburn, Virginia Tech, Boston College, Florida State and South Carolina.
Boston College. Boston College, who is 1-6. Boston College, who has no victories over FBS teams this season. It is painstakingly obvious that Rick Reilly has not seen a single college football game this season. He just clicked over to Clemson's schedule, rattled off the names of the teams he recognized and went about his day. And his editor was either too lazy or too vindictive to correct him. No, he just let the Boston College statement stand, a testament to the idiocy he's forced to read week in and week out. Poor, beleaguered editor. We support your subtle efforts to stick it to the man.
And as for Reilly? Retire please. Go off and write more books whose existence I can remain blissfully unaware of. Because the BCS is making my sport life miserable enough, and I don't need you helping it along.