This line of thought is getting pretty damn ridiculous. It comes up every few months. Some blowhard spouts out off abut how the Mountain West is more deserving of a BCS bid than the Big East and/or the ACC. Usually that person has a novel approach to the issue, they don’t just regurgitate information provided for them by Arent Fox, the firm hired by the Mountain West to lobby congress for their BCS inclusion. The latter is the path taken by Andy Staples of SI.com. In most circumstances I like Andy Staples, he is good writer, has good knowledge and occasionally makes a good and/or novel point about a given topic. But he is not even close in his stance on this.
The Mountain West is a good conference. But I don’t think it merits BCS status because the bottom of the conference skews from average to very, very bad. The drop off between the top three schools of BYU, Utah and TCU and the rest of the conference is monumental. To argue that the Mountain West is better than the Big East is just wrong. The numbers bear that out as well. If you go back and look at the schedules for the teams in both conferences and compare the records for all schools against teams from BCS conferences the Big East is much, much better. The Big East has gone 42-34 the Mountain West has gone 30-35. Six of the eight teams in the Big East have .500 or better records against BCS competition over the last four years. The only schools that don’t aren’t Syracuse, not very surprising, and UC, very surprising. In the Mountain West only BYU, Utah and TCU have winning records. That is not a shock, I think that those three programs are among the best in the country and are BCS quality without a shadow of doubt in my mind. However the rest of the conference is laughably bad. Through the last four years Air Force, Colorado State, New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV and Wyoming have posted a combined 9-25 record against BCS conference schools. Only UNLV has managed to win two regular season games against BCS teams in the same season, they did it in 2008. The teams they beat that year? 5-7 Arizona State and 2-10 Iowa State. Of the other six Mountain West schools, none of them have won more than two games against BCS opponents in the last four years. On the field from the top to bottom the Mountain West is not a BCS caliber conference. Doc Saturday has a handy graph drawn up by the people at Arent Fox.
Lets take a look at some of these graphs. For the most part the rankings one is fine. It is just the final rankings of the highest rated team in each conference. As you can expect from a paid lobbyist it is misleading. The real graph should be the average ranking of all member schools by the BCS computers, because that is, you know, one of the actual criteria of the BCS standards for conference admission.
2. The conference must finish among the top six in a listing of the average computer rankings of every conference’s full roster of teams at the end of each regular season.
But because the Mountain West gets slaughtered in the computer rankings every year it was omitted (see the table in article linked above). It is important to mention that argument that the Mountain West and their lobbyists are making isn’t really based on the actual criteria that the BCS has for being granted Automatic Qualifying status. But they hired a group of Washington lobbyists who have peddled bullshit for most of their lives. So no real shock that they omitted any facts that paint their client in an unfavorable light.
Lastly the TV ratings are a bit of a farce. For the most part when a Mountain West and/or WAC team for the sake of their graphical argument gets a draw to a BCS game they are matched with a proven, established, giant program Georgia, Oklahoma, Alabama ect.. The only time that hasn’t happened was the first BCS buster, Utah in 2004 which drew Pitt for the Fiesta Bowl and had a 7.4 rating. In 2006 Boise State drew Oklahoma and had a 8.4 rating. In 2007 Hawaii drew Georgia and had a 7.9 rating. In 2008 Utah drew Alabama in the Sugar Bowl and had a 7.8 rating. Last year was the only year when the WAC or Mountain West did not draw and major school that was a proven television draw and they got an 8.2. In the period defined by the graph the only time a Big East school has been partnered with a proven television draw was the 2008 when West Virginia drew Oklahoma 7.4 rating and the 2010 Sugar Bowl when UC drew Florida in a game that had a 9.7 rating. The assertion that the Mountain West, or any other BCS busting school are better TV draws isn’t quite right. You can sight slightly higher ratings if you acknowledge that those schools have had favorable opponents from a television ratings perspective.
So Andy Staples, don’t be a shill and say that the Mountain West and Western Athletic Conference deserve a BCS spot over the Big East using the talking points that are coming directly from the Mountain West’s lobbyists in Washington. It looks really bad when a month previously you outlined the criteria for inclusion to the BCS and how neither conference meets them. So don’t use information recycled from lobbyists, and defiantly don’t do that when the information provided from said lobbyists has nothing to do with the actual criteria outlined by the BCS itself. You’re better than that.