Tag Archives: Boise State football

College Football Blind Resumes: 2002-2010

Below is a chart (click to enlarge) showing the win-loss record, winning percentage, number of BCS bowl appearances and BCS bowl wins, and win-loss record in bowl games between 2002-2010 (this season counts towards the overall record).

This is just a snapshot, but it shows 10 programs that have great college football tradition or have been incredibly successful the last decade. I could have chosen 10, 20, or even 50 more teams, but I think even this small sample size is interesting.

There may be nothing here that surprises you, but the “blind resume” helps remove biases, if only for a few seconds before you realize which teams are represented. Strip away the jerseys and helmets from some of these prestigious programs and they simply don’t compare to the truly elite programs of the past decade.*

*I didn’t go back to the start of the decade because I didn’t think it was necessary. In 2002, current college seniors were around 12 or 13 years old. Kids in next year’s incoming class were 8 or 9 at that time. The following chart shows how 10 well-known programs performed during these kids’ football-watching, “where should I go to college?” years.

The obvious:

  • Team A’s winning percentage is unreal.
  • Seven BCS appearances in the last eight years is unbelievable, too, and Teams B and C both did it.
  • Speaking of BCS appearances, if you rank them by that category, suddenly Teams A and D, who are near the top as far as winning percentage, sink to the bottom.
  • 9-4 equates to a .692 winning percentage. Given all the cupcake games, you really don’t want to be under 70%, yet four teams here are (Teams G-J).
  • Teams I and J have won less than two-thirds of their games, have lost a combined five of eight bowl games, and have not won a BCS bowl game despite appearing in five.

OK, so if you’re a serious college football fan and you spend more than a minute looking at the above chart you can probably replace the letters with the actual schools. But here they are, anyway, for simplicity’s sake:

Like I said, I wasn’t going for the “wow” factor here. But you may have shared some of my reactions, which expand upon the previous bullet points:

  • So, yeah, Boise State has won a lot of games the last eight years.
  • Were you not slightly surprised by Ohio State’s impressive numbers? Perhaps I had simply been blinded by my obligatory hatred for the Buckeyes.
  • When it comes to BCS invites, Boise and TCU are at obvious disadvantages since they don’t play in conferences with automatic qualifiers. I can say with 100% confidence that, many of these years, they have been more deserving than the Big East and/or ACC champ, and often times have had a better team than the champs from other AQ conferences.*
  • Shame on you, Miami, Alabama, Michigan, and Notre Dame, four historical powers. Miami was a national title contender at the start of the decade but played .500 football from 2006-08, while Alabama won it all last year but had some down years as well. As for Michigan and ND…
  • …well, 3-9 doesn’t help your winning percentage. As far as the BCS appearances, Ohio State’s success and inclusion in three national title games certainly didn’t hurt Michigan, often the Big Ten’s second-best team. Notre Dame was helped by being, well, Notre Dame, and the Irish were painfully outmatched in their two BCS appearances.

*To clarify: In some years, we’ve seen some weak teams in BCS bowl games, teams I know Boise and/or TCU (and sometimes other non-AQ teams) were better than, even when you consider the schedule strength. In other years, Boise and others may have had great (possibly even undefeated) seasons, but given the disparity in schedule strength one can’t say whether they were truly more deserving. The latter is obviously why many fans would prefer a playoff.

So that’s what recruits know. They know Florida and their two national championships. They know USC and Ohio State consistently playing in high-profile bowl games. They know Boise and TCU and the often-overlooked Virginia Tech churning out the 10-win seasons. And, sadly for me (a Michigan alum) and many of my readers (Michigan and ND fans), they know Michigan as a very respectable but not dominant program that fell apart in 2008 and is still trying to rebuild, and Notre Dame as “just another team.”

Programs rise, programs fall, but tradition lasts forever. I’m not sure any of the highest-profile schools will ever completely fall off the national radar, even if more room is needed for the newcomers.

But depending on what recruits value—and that’s another argument altogether—it may become harder for the historically significant but currently dysfunctional programs to return to their winning ways, as more and more elite players grow up knowing the college football landscape that is represented in the above chart.

BCS Formula Needs to Remove Preseason Poll

Now that it’s official — undefeateds Cincinnati, TCU, and Boise State won’t be playing for the National Championship — fans will start arguing how their school was a victim of a postseason snub.

But they’ll be wrong.

Their favorite teams were slighted before the season even began.

The BCS is far from perfect, but with a contract through 2014, college football would be better off if critics spent their time developing ways to improve the system as opposed to petitioning for a playoff. One fairly simple change is to remove preseason polls.

Let’s take a look at this year’s preseason coaches’ poll (that’s the one that factors into the BCS), which ranked Florida No. 1, to see where the eventual undefeated teams were placed. There’s Texas (2), Alabama (5), Boise (16), TCU (17), and Cincinnati (NR).

Not surprisingly, of these teams, the two ranked highest in the preseason are the two meeting for the title. The voters are, simply put, stubborn. “Not so fast, my friend!” you might say, pointing out the impressive rise of the other three schools, which have all climbed into the top six. Sorry, I don’t see that as those teams moving up — I see it as the losing teams moving down. In other words, you can move up if you win, sure, but only if those above you lose.

The voters of the Harris Poll, another component of the BCS, agree with at least some of my thinking and don’t release their rankings until after week four. I might recommend pushing it back an additional week or two, but at least the voters get to see the teams in action for a few weeks before making their judgments. In their opening poll, they placed Texas and Alabama Nos. 2 and 3, respectively, but had Boise (5), Cincinnati (10), and TCU (11) much higher than the coaches did in their first poll.

Here’s the thing: I’m not arguing that Alabama and Texas shouldn’t be playing for the title. At the same time, if the title game paired any two of the undefeated teams I wouldn’t be complaining. It’s a remarkable feat to go through an entire season unblemished. (And, if you want to look at out of conference games, Boise’s win over Oregon, TCU’s win at Clemson, and Cincy’s win at Oregon State look a lot better than anything Texas did outside of the Big 12; just sayin’…)

What I am arguing for is the tweaking of a system that is giving unfair advantage to certain teams. With no actual results to analyze, a team is placed in the preseason poll based on name brand, where it finished in last year’s final poll, and how many skill position players are returning. The TCU’s and Boise’s aren’t exactly in the forefront of the voters’ minds in August, leaving them in a position where they have to jump more teams than they probably should have to en route to a top ranking.

To be fair, even if there were no preseason rankings, even if the voters, the computers, and everything else that goes into the BCS were not collected until the conference championships were over, it’s possible we’d still have the same title match-up we have now. And that’s fine. But given the apparent unwillingness of voters to be flexible with their ballots, preseason polls must go (and maybe there should be some sort of counseling or something to remind voters that they can change their opinions on teams throughout the season).

The little guys (non BCS-conference schools) have enough hurdles to climb. They can’t do anything, schedule-wise, about the majority of their games — victories against almost all of their conference opponents don’t carry much weight.

If a minor change can help remove one of those obstacles, it should be done. Getting rid of the postseason injustices should start in the preseason.