Book The Byes

An easy schedule may be the fastest route to the BCS

Dec. 6, 2007

By Carter Blackburn

Special to



Carter Blackburn covers various sports for CSTV and writes frequently for
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College football's newest pundit isn't giving his opinions from a TV set or on a blog, but from his office in Provo, Utah.


"I don't know if I'm an expert, but I am being asked for my opinion [on the college football post-season] a lot right now," third-year BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said.


That's because Mendenhall's Broncos went undefeated to win the Mountain West Conference for the second consecutive year. And for the second consecutive year, that earns BYU a trip to the Las Vegas Bowl instead of the Bowl Championship Series. September losses to UCLA and Tulsa put the Cougars in a hole that not even a nine-game winning streak amid the national chaos could dig them out of. 




When the final BCS standings came out Sunday, BYU was17th, three spots from BCS at-large consideration and five spots from automatic inclusion.        


"It felt very similar to when we dropped the games to UCLA and Tulsa," Mendenhall said of the BCS exclusion. "Right now, with the system we're in, the reality is, you have to be undefeated [to make it to the BCS]."


A win against either UCLA or Tulsa would have meant an 11-1 BYU team and a better shot at joining the 2004 Utah team as Mountain West BCS crashers. But what if BYU had played San Diego instead of UCLA, and Northeastern Oklahoma State instead of Tulsa? Judging by Hawai'i's invite to the Orange Bowl with a pair of 1-AA wins, that inferior schedule probably would have gotten BYU into the BCS.


"It is going to affect future scheduling, because these are the rules we are playing under," Mendenhall said.  "Through 2010, it's going to be about the number of wins; not the strength of schedule."


Already BYU is looking into opportunities to water down its 2008 schedule with Nevada pulling out of a contracted game. UCLA is supposed to face BYU again in Provo next year, but since the two are already meeting again in the Las Vegas Bowl, that contest could change as well. Instead of September games excluding a conference champion from the biggest bowls in January, Mendenhall would like to see a bigger reward for dominating your league.


"I would like to see some sort of playoff. I think conference champions should get a shot," Mendenhall said. "You would have to look real hard at the number of preseason games and the number of conference games to make sure you are not over-scheduling for your student-athletes. But take the Las Vegas Bowl.  That could be a regional site for a playoff game."


Mike Slive, coordinator of the Bowl Championship Series, has made it apparent that kind of playoff system is not going to come about under his watch because this is his last year in that capacity. The best playoff advocates can hope for is an additional Plus-1 game at the end of the current bowl schedule matching the top two teams at that point.


For BYU and all those toiling in the non-automatic BCS-bid leagues, the reality is they are already in a playoff system, one that begins the first week of the season with any loss eliminating you from BCS contention. But it is a playoff system that allows you to pick your opponent. As the dichotomy between BYU and Hawai'i's postseasons indicates, booking a couple of early-round byes for yourself in this playoff can pay off in January.