BCS Bowl Picks Spark Controversy Over Selection Process

Oklahoma State University and Kansas State University are disappointed a day after college football bowl games were announced, raising questions about the fairness and legitimacy of the BCS system.

Meanwhile, Virginia Tech, University of Michigan and University of Alabama reap the benefits of a system that seems to come under heavier scrutiny every year.

Perhaps the most legitimate gripe belongs to Oklahoma State University (OSU), who trounced in-state rival University of Oklahoma - the number one team in the country at the beginning of the season - on Saturday but finished third in the BCS poll behind Louisiana State University (LSU) and Alabama.

OSU and Alabama both finished with one loss; OSU to an unimpressive Iowa State University team on the road in double overtime, Alabama to the undefeated and clear-cut best team in the country LSU in overtime, 9-6.

That Alabama already played and lost to LSU is one reason fans – and perhaps coaches – believed OSU was entitled to a spot in the championship game.

The circumstances of either teams’ losses appears to have altered the voters of the Harris and USA Today/Coaches polls.

Though OSU had more wins against plus-.500 teams, and had a statistically more difficult schedule, voters in both polls placed Alabama ahead of OSU. The computer rankings - which comprise the last third of the BCS system – had OSU ahead of Alabama in five of the seven categories.

OSU will travel to the Fiesta Bowl in Phoenix to take on Heisman-hopeful quarterback Andrew Luck and Stanford University. Though OSU hoped to indent the SEC’s reputation as a conference whose teams have unbeatable defenses, Fiesta Bowl organizers and coaches from both sides are excited about a game that will pit two dynamic offenses against each other.

While OSU will at least enjoy a BCS bowl game, Kansas State and Boise State University are relegated to earlier, less prestigious bowls.

In their stead, two lower-ranked and critically underwhelming teams in Virginia Tech and Michigan will play in the Sugar Bowl.

Kansas State (10-2) lost to then ninth-ranked Oklahoma as well as Oklahoma State by a touchdown on the road. They beat ranked opponents University of Texas, Baylor University and once highly-ranked Texas A&M.

Kansas State, ranked eighth in the final BCS poll, finished fourth or fifth in all but one of the computer rankings. Both human polls put them 10th.
Meanwhile, Virginia Tech, who was blown out twice by Clemson University, didn’t beat a ranked opponent all season and finished 11th in the BCS polls.

Tech’s Sugar Bowl opponent Michigan, 13th in the BCS, split its two games against ranked opponents and lost to disappointing University of Iowa.

Critics of the Sugar Bowl selections – which are made from a pool of the top 14 BCS teams – say the Hokies and Wolverines were chosen because of their fan bases.

ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit said on the network’s BCS selection telecast that he hoped bowl games haven’t really come down to “who can sell the most hotel rooms.”

Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer said of his school’s fan base in a teleconference, “certainly they’re one of the reasons we’re coming there.”

Indeed both Michigan and Virginia Tech have large, loyal fan bases that are likely to travel to the game in New Orleans.

Boise State, who finished 7th in the BCS poll, and whose 1-point loss to No. 18 TCU was the only blemish on their record, will play a disappointing mid-December Maaco Bowl Las Vegas.

Boise State gave University of Georgia one of its only two regular season losses in the opening week on a neutral field.

Kansas State will play University of Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl – a game that will pit two impressive two-loss teams in what will be the only match-up between a Big 12 and SEC school.