Monday, October 27, 2008

Did voters forget or not care about Tulsa?

Tulsa was ranked 19th and 21st in last week's coaches and Harris polls. They premiered at No. 19 in the preliminary BCS standings. The Golden Hurricanes managed to jump spots in this weeks standings without playing a game, and without having a bye week. By late Sunday afternoon, the results of both human polls were combined with computer data, and fresh results were published. The only problem is, Tulsa was playing UCF on Sunday night. Were voters and computer geeks so certain that Tulsa would be victorious that they automatically factored them in as a winner, or did they simply not care? Had the game been scheduled and played on Saturday, it wouldn't matter if they won, because they would likely appear in the same Sunday position. But what if they lost?...then what? A loss to Central Florida could have easily left them hanging by a thread in the top 25, if not falling out completely, which would create a domino effect on their BCS bearing.

Had this been a Sunday game featuring the higher ranked opponents, the poll results would have likely been delayed, as the games outcome would have been important to positioning. If a win or loss for Tulsa isn't important to position, then I have to ask why there is so much depth in the rankings. Why not rank the top 15 and leave it at that? What is the importance of numbers 16 to 25? "1" and "2" are the magic numbers, since the top spots get into the BCS championship game, as well as "1" in the AP, because it has potential to be different, which would award a split title. "12" is also significant, as it represents the level for automatic entry into BCS bowl games for mid-majors achieving this level in the final BCS standings. Stretch it to 15, and we can see 3 programs knocking on the door as the season rolls along. Outside of mid-majors and the national title games, rankings don't determine the other BCS participants. Illinois played in the 2008 Rose Bowl, despite sitting lower in the standings than programs that didn't receive a BCS bid.

When voters and computers posted results, before Tulsa ever took the field on Sunday, they told us the lower numbers in the top 25 are insignificant. And you know what?...They're right. Tulsa is an undefeated mid-major program that has been clobbering their opponents. By being ignored on Sunday, they were delivered a message that says no matter what they do, they will not jump ahead of the 3 mid-majors above them to snag the at-large BCS bid, unless all 3 of those teams suffer a defeat in these final weeks. What Tulsa does is about as important as anything accomplished by Ball State, meaning it's not really important at all. The important results weigh on Boise State, TCU, and Utah, who all happen to be among the top 15 of the BCS standings, and control their own destiny.

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