We’re about to find out whether TCU is much improved, or whether TCU’s competition in recent weeks has progressively weakened. Prior to the Mountain West expanding out of necessity, we would never have answer that question until bowl time. But, here sits Boise St - the other darling of the mid major conferences. And here is the question:
As TCU plays in its swansong year, as the juggernaut of the mid major teams, against the other juggernaut of the mid major teams -- will TCU let the BCS off the hook? Ironically, TCU is perhaps the best and last clear chance to let the mass majority of fans and pundits breathe a collective sigh of relief.
TCU and Boise, both BCS caliber programs, have both suffered the punishment of weak schedules – having undefeated seasons and playing in "also ran" BCS games. Were these prior years either team’s fault? Both of these teams will play anybody, any time. But in the end, you can only schedule so many out of conference games, and most of the "big dogs" shy away from scheduling a game with a mid major team that stands an excellent chance of beating your program. A few have tried it in the past few years, most of them suffering disastrous results.
I don’t have to tell anyone reading this website the arguments against giving TCU or Boise St a shot at the national championship title. To repeat them now seems like a waste of time. You know what they are, but primarily it is the concept or notion that it is easy to get up for one big game, but to maintain a level of play consistently against "decent" opponents week in and week out is much more daunting. Simple arithmetic bears out their argument. Most years, there are between zero and 2 major conference teams that wind up undefeated. If you are Auburn, and you want to win the national championship, you have to beat LSU, Alabama, Arkansas, et al. MississippiState is your "trap game," not Wyoming.
Whispers of whether Boise St. finally deserves their shot began well before LSU and Alabama knocked heads. Once Alabama lost, the cacophony of chatter started – should Alabama get the nod in the BCS championship game against, perhaps, LSU over an unbeaten BoiseState team. Would Oklahoma . . . another "one loss" team? Would the fabled BCS computer ranking system punish Boise for it’s weak schedule, or would it give them a shot at the national championship if there is only one other unbeaten team?
What is lost in this? Immediately, the pundits and the "call in" fans were giving OklahomaState a loss to Oklahoma, as if it were a foregone conclusion. Stanford was not going to hold up against Oregon – how could they?. And, oppositely, BoiseState was going to win out.
Perhaps Boisewill win today. Perhaps TCU isn’t improved, and it is just the more recent competition (that SMU game suggests this may be so). Perhaps BoiseState is just that good and TCU doesn’t stand a chance.
I just think it is ironic that TCU (a new member of the Big 12, and because they are so, it has a vested interest in the same arguments as Oklahoma or Alabama) stands as the last clear chance to maintain order and decorum in a system we all know to be flawed. While I will always pull for TCU, does it feel a little weird to anyone else that TCU (at least for today, and beginning next year) is now playing for "the man," the establishment, the traditional entitlement afforded teams that are members of automatic qualifying conferences? It feels a little weird after all these years of rooting for complete chaos.