The scenario is a common one. A college football team gains some respectability, but has not quite broken into the sport’s top echelon. They go through their season undefeated, although critics maintain that their schedule is weak. Despite their record, they are not invited to the championship game.
Sound like Boise State? TCU? Try Colgate in 1932.
Not only did the Red Raiders go undefeated that year, they did not allow a point—which no Division I team has done since 1939, and would be inconceivable in today’s college football world. Nevertheless, they were not invited to the Rose Bowl (the de facto college championship at that time), which instead chose twice-tied Pitt, which was blown out by USC.
To use one of writing’s worst (if often appropriate) clichés, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
For all the talk about the BCS system, it hasn’t changed anything. Every year, questions and controversy surround the champion.
Now comes E. Gordon Gee, president of The Ohio State University, and his remark that teams such as Boise State and TCU don’t deserve to play in the BCS Championship Game, implying that they play “Little Sisters of the Poor.”
While Boise State and TCU play in conferences that are, generally, a step below the Big Ten/11/12 or whatever you want to call it now or the SEC, I would be hard-pressed to call any of their opponents “Little Sisters of the Poor.” One reason for their weaker schedules is that the big boys don’t want to play these schools.
Why? Ask Virginia Tech, beaten by Boise State earlier this year at FedEx Field—neutral, but much closer to Blacksburg than to the Broncos’ blue (do not adjust your set) turf.
Ask Oklahoma, beaten by Boise State in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl.
And, while I am an OSU fan who will be cheering them on as they destroy Michigan Saturday, let’s talk about the Buckeyes’ “Little Sisters” for a minute.
The scheduling of non-conference mid-majors early in the season amounts to an Ohio State tradition. Note that the following teams have been on the Buckeyes’ recent past and future schedules:
2008: Youngstown State, Ohio U., and Troy.
2009: New Mexico State
2010: Marshall, Ohio U., Eastern Michigan
2011: Akron, Toledo
2012: Miami (Ohio), Alabama-Birmingham
None of these schools are literally “Little Sisters of the Poor,” but they are mid-major programs similar to those played by Boise State and TCU. The Buckeyes have the additional advantage of playing all of them in Ohio Stadium (except Toledo, which will be played in Cleveland). Not sure why, but I imagine it has to do with logistics—the opponents’ stadiums would have trouble handling the size of a crowd that the Buckeyes would attract.
Gee is certainly smart enough to know who’s paying him to make statements such as this—but “Little Sisters of the Poor”? Even a Buckeye fan like me has to give him 15 yards for piling on.