BCS National Championship Game: Notre Dame vs. Alabama, fantastic.
Fiesta Bowl: Oregon vs. Kansas State — the national title game two weeks ago — wonderful.
Then the Bowl Championship Series, in terms of attractive matchups, falls apart, and the Big 12 is out a chunk of change because of it.
Northern Illinois, welcome to the BCS. Now, sell about 20,000 tickets.
Math and the Mid-American Conference shook up the bowl lineup on Sunday. The BCS standings were revealed, and because the Huskies finished No 16 in the standings, and ahead of Big East champion Louisville, the BCS was obligated to find a spot in a major bowl for the Huskies, who overcame a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to defeat 1-11 Kansas in September.
Northern Illinois’ lone loss in a 12-1 season? To Iowa, 18-17. The Hawkeyes finished 4-8.
The Huskies take those credentials to the Orange Bowl to face Florida State, carrying on a program bowl tradition that includes the GoDaddy.com, Humanitarian and International bowls in the previous three years. Hey, the Huskies have three Mineral Water Bowls on their resume.
What Northern Illinois won’t take to Miami is their head coach, Shawnee’s Dave Doeren, the Bishop Miege graduate and former Kansas assistant. He’s already accepted the North Carolina State job, passing on what could be the best bowl games for one of his teams.
This shock to the BCS system took out a Sugar Bowl that after Saturday’s developments was looking like a delicious Florida-Oklahoma matchup. Why?
The Sooners would have been selected as an at-large team, the final piece to the BCS bowl lineup. As the projected last team in, Oklahoma became the first out, and landed in a nice spot: the Cotton Bowl against Texas A&M.
Instead, the Sugar gets Florida-Louisville, while the Rose offers the traditional Big Ten-Pac 12 showdown that includes five-loss Wisconsin.
Losing an at-large team will cost the Big 12 a $6.2 million share. The league and the five other major conferences still receive $23.6 million for its BCS participation, but it’s the Pac-12 and Southeastern Conference, with second teams in the big bowls, that get the bonus.
This is the worst collection of games in the 15-year history of the BCS. The top six teams in the final standings have a place. After that, the bowls include the No. 12 (Florida State), 15 (Northern Illinois) and 21 (Louisville) BCS teams, and one (Wisconsin) that’s unranked.
Missing out on high-profile games because of BCS rules are SEC powerhouses Georgia, LSU, Texas A&M and South Carolina, plus Oklahoma. The new playoff and major bowl structure, set to launch after the 2014 season, will fix some of this, but selection controversy will always be part of a system that includes the human element of voters, committees and invitations.
It’s not always the system that errs. Over the weekend, Louisiana Tech took itself out of the postseason. An Independence Bowl invitation was extended on Saturday, but the school declined, believing something better awaited. Tech asked the bowl to wait, but the bowl wanted an answer. The answer was no.
But as the polls were unveiled Sunday and it was becoming apparent that Northern Illinois would make it to the BCS, and Oklahoma wouldn’t, the trickle down closed doors to Louisiana Tech, 9-3.
Essentially, Iowa State, one of the Big 12’s nine bowl eligible teams, took a spot that would have allowed Louisiana Tech to go bowling. Oddly enough for the Cyclones, their bowl opponent is Tulsa in a rematch of the season opener won by Iowa State 38-23.
The Wildcats wound up with one of the bowl’s best deals, a Fiesta date and an attractive opponent that will match Oregon’s speed against the Wildcats’ efficiency. And with the quality of the other major bowl matchups, the Fiesta should get plenty of hype.