Thursday, December 6, 2012

Gene Smith's BCS-Saving Blunder

If Alabama goes on to defeat Notre Dame to win back-to-back BCS championships, the first person Nick Saban should thank, upon receiving the crystal ball, isn't the players, coaches, fans or even God.

It's Gene Smith, Ohio State's athletic director.

The same goes for Bill Hancock, executive director of the BCS. If not for the one fateful decision by the otherwise brilliant Ohio State athletic director, we could be talking about the mother of all BCS controversies.

Where, exactly, would've the Buckeyes been ranked in the final BCS standings if they weren't serving a postseason ban and therefore ineligible to be included in the rankings? Would their 12-0 regular season have trumped Alabama's 12-1 that's blemished by a home loss?

The answer is, it's way too close to call. (And that's excluding a necessarily Ohio State victory over Nebraska in the Big Ten title game, which would only have strengthened Ohio State's position.)

The Crimson Tide finished the regular season a solid No. 2 in the final BCS standings, with a comfortable margin over No. 3 Florida, who did not qualify for the SES title game. The Gators beat the Tide pretty handily in the computers (.960 to .910) but they weren't much of a threat because they were fourth in both polls behind also Oregon.

If Ohio State were in the picture, we would've had an entirely different story.

In the final computer rankings, the Buckeyes were ranked second, third, third, fourth, fifth and 10th in the six ratings the BCS uses. Tossing out the high and the low, Ohio State would've scored .890 on the computer component, exactly the same as Alabama and both behind Florida's .950.

Wait a minute, you say, didn't Alabama finish at .910 in the official BCS standings?

Ah, that's true, but because Ohio State was ineligible, every team ranked behind it in the standings got to skip up a spot. For example, on Anderson and Hester's rankings, Ohio State was second, Florida third and Alabama fifth. But due to the Buckeyes' ineligibility, Florida was slotted No. 2 and Alabama No. 4 in the final BCS standings.

With computer scores dead even, wouldn't Alabama trump Ohio State anyway because of its placements in the polls?


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