Mike Locksley: Jockin' the Bitches/Slapping the Hoes/Holding back the MWC since 2009.
Last week, as I'm sure we're all familiar with, the Wizards of Oz behind the BCS curtain finally released their requirements for a non-BCS league to gain automatic qualifier status during a four year evaluation period. I, like many of you, wondered the same thing - why was it such a closely guarded secret? It was pretty much the exact method that everyone had assumed it was anyway. To refresh, there are three qualifications, dumbed down strictly for the MWC.
- TCU, Utah or BYU - one, not all - must rank higher in the final computer rankings than the best team of at least one other major conference. Since God invented the ACC and Big East Conferences, this should be a no brainer.
- All of the teams in the MWC must average out higher in the final regular season computer rankings than the average of one or more of the six BCS conferences. Since God invented New Mexico, UNLV and San Diego State, this is also a no brainer, but in the bad sense.
- TCU, Utah and BYU must finish in the Top 25 each year and hope that at least one of the major conferences does not place as many teams in the Top 25, or, if they do, they'll have a lower cumulative ranking.
The actual rules are outlined here in this article by SI.com's Andy Staples, and this is the article I want to discuss here. Obviously the major question on our minds when this came out was, "If the evaluation period ended today, how would the MWC fare?" In short? We don't get in. Fortunately though, there are two more years left in the evaluation period for us to make up ground.
The MWC currently qualifies under requirements one and two, but are a distant, distant seventh under the second. And this is where having Utah, TCU, Air Force and BYU in such an unbalanced football conference is a double edged sword. On the one hand, without them, you never qualify under rules one and three, but, with a more evenly balanced conference, perhaps the bottom feeders rise up from the muck over time. On the other, with them, said bottom feeders are guaranteed at least three losses in most years and, once they cannibalize one another, the bottom gets stirred a little, but never rises. And while it's great that a team like New Mexico is playing tough out of conference games against Tech and aggy, when you lose those games, you may as well have scheduled a D-1AA team and gotten a W.
So what needs to happen? For one, TCU, Utah and BYU need to continue to do what they do best which is win non-conference and bowl games, with at least one making a BCS bowl each of the next two years being the icing on the cake. Fortunately though, at this point in the evaluation, making a BCS game probably isn't a necessary requirement as much as beating teams from other power conferences is. None of those three teams are looking to have down years anytime soon, and especially not the next two with so much on the line.
The biggest concern, though, is what happens at the bottom of the conference? Air Force doesn't get enough mention when it comes to the Big 3 and, in due time, they will probably push it to the big 4. Still, you have to beat the best to be the best, isn't that what Ric Flair taught us? Further down the line, Wyoming looks to be on a decent upward trajectory, and it's only a matter of time before Brady Hoke gets his Aztecs out of the cellar as he did with Ball State. Colorado State, despite their short comings last year, are typically good enough for at least bowl eligibility as well. Unfortunately though, UNLV will take their lumps with a new coaching staff and, despite a decent recruiting haul, I can't see New Mexico busting out anytime soon either. I hope I'm wrong because, if they can't do any better, we're probably stuck the non-AQ abyss with the WAC and CUSA.
So, for the time being, the best thing we can do is beat up on the major conference teams we do play this year out of conference and, just for fun, I've put together a list of who plays who and the projected result according to this guy:
TCU - vs Baylor
, vs. Oregon State .
Air Force - @ OU
BYU - vs. Washington
, @ Florida State .
CSU - vs. Colorado
UNM - @ Oregon
, vs. TTU
SDSU - @ Mizzou
UNLV - vs. Wisconsin
@ WVU .
Utah - vs Pitt
, @ Notre Dame .
Wyoming - @ Texas
So, according to what I think will happen, the MWC should end the non-conference slate against current BCS competition with 8 wins to 6 losses. I don't think this is where it needs to be - and with STRETCH calls with UNLV/WISC and WYO/UT, this number could easily get its inversin' on - so I guess we just need to pray that we win all of our other non conference matchups. It should be noted that Wyoming hosts Boise State in Laramie this year, which, if they pull that shocker, would be a HUGE non conference win over a likely top 5 team. Also, how treat is Utah's out of conference schedule? I'm giddy if I'm a Utes fan.
I'm a little depressed after reading this article as I thought the road to AQ status was a lot more direct than it is at present, but seeing as how we're going to be in the Big 12 by then anyway, I suppose this whole post is moot.