This post is painful for me to write because, as regular readers know, I generally try to be optimistic about things. But as the tide has turned on the nation's opinion of the Frogs, the seed of doubt has been planted: what if TCU is completely left out of the BCS?
Hopefully in a few weeks we can look back at this post and laugh at how silly I was being. After all, the Frogs do still have a legitimate shot at playing in the Championship game. But if Boise State ends up passing TCU, which is 'inevitable' if you listen to the 'experts', they won't be guaranteed anything...EVEN IF Auburn or Oregon lose and TCU ends up at #3.
To quickly bring those of you not well-versed in BCS rules up to speed on why TCU wouldn't be guaranteed a BCS spot, even at #3...the BCS is required to take the highest-ranked non-BCS team, provided they are in the Top 12. But JUST the top-ranked team...the Top 12 rule doesn't mean a thing if you're the second highest-ranked non-BCS team. And for those of you thinking that the Top 3 ranked teams are guaranteed a BCS spot...that rule only applies to teams from BCS conferences. To sum it up...only the team that ends up ranked higher between TCU and Boise State will be guaranteed a spot in a BCS bowl, and the other will be hoping to be picked as an at-large team.
So let's look at who will be automatically eligible for the BCS:
-SEC Champion (either Auburn or South Carolina)
-Big 12 Champion (OU, Oklahoma State or Nebraska)
-Big Ten Champion (Wisconsin, Ohio State or Michigan State)
-Pac 10 Champion (probably Oregon...possibly Stanford)
-ACC Champion (Virginia Tech, Florida State or NC State)
-Big East Champion (Pitt...or someone, who knows)
-Top-ranked non-BCS team (if we're to believe ESPN, it'll be Boise)
That would leave just three at-large spots. You have to believe that a second SEC team will be picked, with the schools mentioned above as well as LSU and Alabama as strong candidates. You also have to assume that a second Big Ten team will be selected, as all three of the schools listed above are 10-1.
After that, you're left with just one remaining spot. Sure, if TCU does indeed beat New Mexico and finish the regular season 12-0 and ranked #3 or #4 in the BCS, you have to think that they'd be the top choice here. But what about Stanford? The Cardinal are 10-1 right now, and would one of the BCS bowls rather have an 11-1 Pac 10 team than a 12-0 Mountain West team? It sure doesn't sound like something completely out of the realm of possibility. And what about a 2- or 3-loss team from the Big 12? Would the Sugar or Orange Bowls want Oklahoma, Oklahoma State or Nebraska above an undefeated TCU?
If I had to bet, I'd put my money on the Frogs getting a BCS bid. After all, the BCS has to be wary of the extreme criticism that it receives year after year. And even if you feel like the media doesn't come to the defense of TCU enough, trust me, they'd raise a stink over the Frogs being relegated to the Las Vegas Bowl as the #3 or #4-ranked team in the nation. So I think that, out of self-preservation, the BCS will find a spot for TCU. But I just want to, even as someone who is usually fairly optimistic, prepare you all for the worst-case scenario.