When things seem too good to be true they usually aren't, but in this case maybe they were.
When Cincinnati destroyed Rutgers last weekend most, if not all of us, proclaimed that Louisville was two wins away from their inaugural appearance in the BCS. Now after watching the talented West Virginia trio of White, Slaton and Schmitt all struggle in this Saturday's loss while hobbled to a certain degree by various injuries, that assumed win over the Scarlet Knights (who crushed Syracuse 38-7) no longer appears so faithful.
So what are our chances of getting royally screwed now looking like? Mildly solid-to-solid.
The easiest and most likely way for the Cards to crash the BCS (extremely dorky costume) party would still be for them to defeat Connecticut on Saturday and have West Virginia beat Rutgers. In this scenario Louisville wins the Big East championship outright (pretty cool), and likely earns a trip to the Orange Bowl (also cool) where they would play either Georgia Tech or Wake Forest (not so cool).
So then what happens in the increasingly likely case that the Scarlet Knights top an injured West Virginia team that now knows it has zero chance of its season not being billed as a disappointment? Well without using any adult language, we're fucked.
There are 10 spots available in the BCS, and the slots in this scenario are being occupied by: 1. Ohio State (Big Ten champ/MNC), 2. USC (PAC-10 champ/MNC), 3. Rutgers (Big East champ/Orange Bowl), 4. Georgia Tech/Wake Forest (ACC champ/Orange Bowl), 5. Oklahoma/Nebraska (Big 12 champ/Fiesta Bowl), 6. Boise State (Automatic selection/Fiesta Bowl), 7. Florida (SEC champ/Sugar Bowl), 8. Michigan (Automatic selection/Rose Bowl).
This leaves two spots for seemingly three candidates: LSU, Notre Dame and Louisville. At first glance you might think that an 11-1 team whose lone loss came in the form of a last second field goal on the road to another 11-1 team would be the logical choice over two two-loss teams, one of whom was blown out by both of the two quality teams they played, but thinking this rationally with regards to college football and the BCS would make you a moron.
The two bigger name schools would be selected, and representatives from both bowls have already said as much. Now you might then think, "Well hey, it's almost Christmas time, maybe these representatives' hearts will grow three sizes and they'll do the right thing." Well this also makes you a moron because, as of everyone knows, BCS bowl representatives don't have hearts, they're lives are sustained by the souls and energy of the three beagle puppies they eat for breakfast each morning. So there goes that one.
The most convenient (and unlikely) way for the Cardinals to have avoided all this nonsense unfortunately went out the window Sunday afternoon when the latest TFBCS rankings were released and showed that LSU had jumped Louisville. Before that happened there was an outside chance that the Cards would have moved into third and earned an automatic BCS bid if both USC and Florida were to lose this weekend, but now in said scenario LSU would get the bid and U of L would still be left wanting.
If all of this has you a bit down, we do have a tiny ball of hope to chuck at your head (we throw even beautiful things when we're frustrated). The Rose Bowl gets first pick of at-large teams, and if they choose Notre Dame it would mean that the Sugar would likely be forced to take Louisville because a selection of LSU would result in a match up of two SEC teams which is a BCS no-no. Louisville vs. Florida in New Orleans...we could get down with this.
The only problem with this is that if Notre Dame were to play in the Rose Bowl, their opponent would likely be Michigan, a team that trounced them on Sept. 16. Bowl officials loathe rematches, meaning that LSU would be the more likely selection, leaving Notre Dame for the Sugar and once again leaving Louisville on the outside looking in.
BUT, some, including Brad Edwards, Kirk Herbstreit and Wendell Barnhouse, believe that the Rose Bowl is feeling the need to restore a sense of tradition that has been lacking in recent years, and nothing says tradition like Michigan and Notre Dame. If you see a Rose Bowl official in the next week, make sure to mention that.
We've talked to some people that are actually cheering for Rutgers to win on Saturday because they'd rather have a slim chance at the Sugar or Rose then a locked up Orange Bowl berth. To these people we say brush up on your Spanglish, because if the Scarlet Knights take the conference title home from Morgantown...hello El Paso.
Is this horrendously awful? Absolutely. Does anyone care? Not really.
Sports writers will have our backs for a couple of weeks and talk about how superior our resume is in comparison with Notre Dame's and how it's a crime that the Cardinals will be forced to watch the Irish from home on the first or second day of January. And then Notre Dame will play and lose, and the attention will shift to the national championship game, and then to the 2007 season. Everyone will forget about the atrocities of this flawed system in the same way they dismissed what happened to Oregon last year and to Cal in '04.
College football has a lot going for it, but anyone who is satisfied with this system is either a fool or making a profit.