All hail Dan Wetzel for shouting for the death of the BCS. But in taking every opportunity he can to poke holes in the system, his logic appears to get screwy at times. Take the following from the Death to the BCS web site, which is a companion to the book he co-authored with Josh Peter and Jeff Passan:
Trailing Missouri 36-27 with 2:24 remaining on Saturday, Oklahoma had the ball and at least some hope of springing a miracle comeback. This is college football after all, and while the Sooners chances were slim, stranger things have happened.
Bob Stoops saw it differently. Facing 4th and 10 from deep in his own territory he punted, effectively conceding the game to Missouri. The Sooners flat gave up. He did it for one reason: he feared that if OU was stopped, Mizzou would punch in another score and extend the margin of defeat.
A 16-point loss would look worse to poll voters that make up two-thirds of the BCS formula. So rather than try to win, he went with a new concept: running down the score. (DeathToTheBCS.com)
I completely understand Wetzel’s point and thing there’s a whole lot of credence to it. However, here’s my issue: would Stoops have acted any differently if an honest to goodness playoff system was currently in place?
Think about it, his team is sitting pretty in the Big 12’s South Division heading into that tilt with Missouri. Now let’s say Wetzel’s preferred 16-team playoff format is the method being used to crown college football’s champion. This playoff would bestow an automatic bid to five or six conference champions (depending on how much love the WAC and MWC get) and leave a double digit number of at-large bids to be gobbled by others.
Would such a system compel Stoops to go for it on 4th and 10 when his team is down by 9 with 2:24 remaining? I really don’t think it would. With that many bids out there, why bother? He can shut it down, keep Oklahoma in the top ten of the polls, coach the team up coming down the stretch and probably end up with a nice tournament seeding.
What if the tournament were much smaller, say, just eight teams? Would Stoops suddenly grow a set under those circumstances? Hell, that’s all the more reason for Stoops to try his best to run down the score. An eight team tournament makes it even more imperative that a team stay as close to the top of the polls as possible.
In the pre-BCS way of doing things, there would be nothing to compel an Oklahoma coach to act differently than Stoops did, either. If it’s 1987 and Barry Switzer is at the Sooner helm, he’s absolutely got to keep that score down. After all, staying near the top of the polls was all important back then if you had any designs on the national title.
But maybe that’s Wetzel’s point, maybe his logic isn’t screwy after all. Perhaps he’s saying that if the motivation doesn’t dramatically change then there’s no harm in chucking the flawed system and putting in another one.
Regardless of what Wetzel was getting at, I’m convinced that nothing short of his family being held hostage would’ve compelled Stoops to go for it against Missouri. And I sincerely hope I didn’t just give a wackjob Sooner fan a crazy idea.