The University of Houston Cougars, that is.
The Coogs blew through the Tulsa Hurricanes today on their way to a perfect 12-0 regular season record, a Conference USA Western Division championship and became the hosts for the conference title game a week down the road. They are, along with Louisiana State University, one of two unbeaten college teams in the NCAA’s Division 1. As a result, they have the potential to be yet another one of those BCS busters like Utah and Boise State have been in the past.
Major college football is still one of those domains in the athletic world where past history and heritage still produce influence to put enough weight on things like names, schedule strength, conference alignment help determine a mythical national “champion” without actually having a playoff tournament like the other sports, and in football even the other divisions, do. It is still one area where money, who has it, and who doesn’t, plays a larger role in who wins the mythical national football title than the actual games that are played to determine it do. It is a domain where endless arguments over whether Ole Miss, Kentucky, Vanderbilt and Tennessee are worse than UAB, Memphis, Tulane and Central Florida. The only way we’ll ever really know is if teams go out on the field and play each other, but the money interests and the sports media can’t have that happen, and so we have the BCS, and its whole mythical perception of which conferences are better, who has a tougher schedule, and ultimately, who will play in a game that rotates between the four bowl games with the biggest checkbooks in college football, because their interest is the one that counts the most, not determining who really is the best college football team in America.
By the way, if you need any evidence that money is the reason why there is not an NCAA tournament to determine a Division 1 football national champion, look at what has happened with the executive leadership of the Fiesta Bowl this past year. There’s a scandal, because of the bowl’s money interest, among those who have been intimately involved in setting up the whole BCS system in the first place.
What has happened is that two universities, not all that far apart, the University of Houston, and Louisiana State University, have finished their seasons with perfect records, at least going into their conference championship game. What it is looking like is that those two teams will most likely emerge with 13-0 records. Logically, in the flawed system we have, where there is no playoff, these two teams should meet on the field to settle, once for all, at least for this year, who is the national champion. They both play in Division 1. Some of UH’s C-USA foes have beaten some of LSU’s SEC foes. And while, arguably, LSU may have actually played a “tougher” schedule, since they opted to open with Oregon and did travel to West Virginia, who isn’t all that bad, (though games with Western Kentucky and Northwestern State don’t contribute to the schedule argument) and did have to play Alabama as a conference game, as well as a tremendously over-rated Arkansas team, that’s nothing more than speculation. They are the only unbeaten teams left. Let them settle the argument on the field.
After the way things have transpired up to this week, I think I can finally be convinced that LSU is probably the best team in the country right now, or should I say, one of the best. My top ten would look like this: 1. LSU, 2. UH, 3. Oklahoma State, 4. Alabama, 5. Stanford, 6. Boise State, 7. Virginia Tech, 8. Michigan State, 9. Oregon, 10. Wisconsin. Depending on how the conference title games come out, which are a good step toward a playoff, I say that LSU and Houston should play for the title. But the sports media and the bowl system is not set up to be kind to schools like UH, a largely commuter school with a fan base that will probably be good for about 15,000 tickets at their BCS bowl game if they make it, maybe closer to 30,000 if the game is in New Orleans.
Since it won’t work that way, I’ll be rooting for Georgia Tech to beat Georgia before the Bulldogs go on to upset LSU in the SEC title game (yeah, good luck with that one, huh?)and for Auburn to take down the Tide. That might keep the SEC out of the BCS title game, and be enough to put the UH in it.
One can always hope…