Saturday, October 12, 2013

Alabama Will Open as No. 1 ... Deal With It

When the first official BCS standings come out next Sunday, the suspense will involve the identity of the No. 2 team. It could be Oregon—which won impressively again—or the winner of next Saturday's Clemson-Florida State showdown.

But who's No. 1 will not be in doubt. But why should Alabama be automatically slotted into the top spot?

In this, the final year of the BCS era, the answer is simple. Until the Tide lose a game, no one else will have a chance to occupy the top of the BCS standings. They own the narrative, and therefore they own the votes.

Alabama certainly has won enough on the field to warrant the preferential treatment, but it also owes a big thanks to the successful decade-long effort by the SEC to master the BCS. Consider this: In both of the past two seasons, Alabama was chosen among a group of one-loss teams to play in the BCS National Championship Game against an undefeated foe. And the Tide were picked at the end despite a loss precisely because they spent most of the season at No. 1.

The top-ranked team always gets more benefit of the doubt from the poll voters, and in the BCS era after 2004 the polls always decided which teams play in the title game. Since the adoption of the current BCS formula nine years ago, every team that finished either first or second in the final polls played for the title. The computer rankings were completely irrelevant.


No comments: