Zemek: BYU got the gold mine; Utah got the shaft.

CFN asks the musical questions today if Utah has grounds to complain about last year and if the MWC deserves an automatic BCS slot.  Fortunately for us, Matt Zemek only answers the first one.

Q: Does 2008 Utah have a beef? How about the Mountain West and its complaint that it belongs in the BCS?

A: Sure they do.

Why? Simple: 1984.

BYU, playing a schedule far easier than what the rival Utes had to endure in 2008, was crowned national champion. The Cougars were able to play–and beat–an okay Michigan team in the Holiday Bowl and avoid playing Washington, Oklahoma, or another similarly credentialed superpower in a bowl game. If Utah couldn’t receive at least a split national title (with Florida) from voters and systems in light of its body of work, it’s clear and–from a historical perspective–plainly undeniable that the Utes got the shaft last year.

You know, there might be something to this line of reasoning – if there were no BCS last year, or if there were a BCS regime in place in 1984.  Since that wasn’t the case in either instance, his argument is nothing more than your classic example of apples and oranges (ironically, it’s BYU’s MNC that led to the push for what eventually became the BCS).  It’s akin to arguing that Georgia got the shaft in 2007 because it would have been recognized as a SEC co-champ under the rules before 1992.  Technically true, but why does it matter?


Filed under BCS/Playoffs, Media Punditry/Foibles

4 responses to “Zemek: BYU got the gold mine; Utah got the shaft.

  1. That’s really stupid. BYU wins a completely tainted title, so Utah were screwed when they didn’t win a slightly less tainted title?


  2. dean

    I like what you did there with the title. Clever.

    Am I the only one who thinks Utah should be happy with their piece of the pie and quit whining about it?

    If the MWC belongs in the BCS then why not C-USA or the WAC? Heck even the Sun Belt. Louisiana-Monroe beat Alabama. They should be in BCS too.


  3. Matt Zemek

    There wasn’t–and isn’t–a need for me to address any portions of the question in connection to the BCS system, which CFN readers know is a disgrace in my book.

    For me to apply the BCS framework to the Utah/Mountain West question would give the BCS far more legitimacy than it deserves. I am one of those writers who would rarely if ever say something akin to, “Given the way the system’s set up, it worked.”

    No. The BCS only “works” when an undefeated No. 1 plays an undefeated No. 2 for a clear-cut title, with every other team in the land having a blemish. The fact that BYU’s 1984 national title did not occur under the BCS banner has no bearing, for me, on the fairness of Utah’s treatment in 2008. I don’t care about systems in place in given eras of football history; I care about whether justice was done or not.

    BYU received a cheap title; Utah received a harsh penalty for doing better work. Given that they play in the same conference (formerly the WAC in older days, including 1984), the comparison is quite apt.

    PS–The Florida-Utah scenario shows, as I’ve written repeatedly during my stint at CFN, that the BCS has done precious little to avoid (or reduce the need for) split championships in Division I-A/FBS college football. This proves its uselessness as a system (as have the crappy non-title game BCS bowl matchups we’ve had to endure in recent years: USC-Illinois instead of USC-Georgia in the ’08 January bowls; Cincy-Virginia Tech instead of… well… various possibilities last season)


    • Matt, I appreciate you coming here to defend what you wrote, and I understand that you far prefer a playoff to the current BCS arrangement, but I think you’re still being somewhat disingenuous with your argument here.

      Contrary to what you argue, the BCS only has one goal in life – to match a number one against a number two in its title game. You may not like the rest of the bowl game matchups, but whatever flaws occur there are the results of the individual bowls themselves.

      And like it or not, if there had been a BCS in place in 1984, BYU either wouldn’t have gotten within smelling distance of a MNC game, or would have had to play a far more credible opponent in the post season than Michigan. Whichever way things would have played out, it would have meant that the title that season would have been cheapened far less as a result.

      As for Utah’s “harsh penalty”, under the old system, the Utes never would have played ‘Bama in the first place to have the opportunity to argue that they were shortchanged. There never would have been a body of work to compare with Florida’s to argue for a split MNC.

      So, while I respect your criticism of the BCS, your comparison of circumstances doesn’t hold water for me.