While at the Montgomery Touchdown Club earlier this week, Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville spoke out against the BCS system and the national media. He was particularly upset with ESPN for what he claims is predetermining the national championship game as a Texas-USC matchup. He says:
It's done. The national media, led by ESPN, wants to see Vince Young versus Matt Leinart in the championship game. It's going to be those two teams unless Texas or USC get upset. Last year, they wanted to see the two Heisman Trophy quarterbacks, Jason White and Leinart. After six or seven games, we were out of it.
Quite the defeatist attitude! He may have every right to be upset after getting shut out of last year's Orange Bowl, but this is just misdirected anger. Has anyone shown Tuberville this year's BCS formula? News flash: the national media does not get a vote! The Associated Press decided at the end of the 2004 season to not allow its poll to be used in the BCS ranking system.
Therefore, the national media has very little to say in terms of who the top two teams are. Tuberville's counterparts, the coaches, in fact, have more say per capita than any other component that is figured into the standings. Sixty-one coaches compose the USA Today Poll, which bears the same weighting as the 114-member Harris Poll. The third equally-weighted component is the average of a team's best five out of six computer rankings.
So how much influence does ESPN and the rest of the national media really have? I doubt they have any influence over the coaches. They certainly have no influence over six independent and unbiased algorithms that come up with the new computer ratings each week. So what about the Harris Poll? I suppose it could be argued that they have some degree of influence over some of these voters. In fact, 25 of the 114 voters are members of the media. The rest, however, are current college administrators, former players, and former coaches.
In fact, then, direct influence by these 25 members of the media account for less than 8% of the overall BCS standings. This is a big difference over last year, when 65 members of the AP accounted for 1/3 of the overall BCS standings.
Even if ESPN has an influence over many of the Harris Poll voters, how big of an influence is it? And is ESPN really biased toward a Texas-USC showdown on January 4th?
And what's with the hate directed toward Lou Holtz? Tuberville went on to say:
ESPN has gotten so much power lately, it's kinda scary. Most of their analysts are coaches who haven't won any games. Lou Holtz gets on there and talks about what a team has to do to win that game and the guy couldn't beat anybody in our conference.
Criticizing ESPN is one thing. And in my opinion that's misdirected enough. There's no need to take a shot at Holtz. Sure the guy struggled at South Carolina. Who wouldn't have? Even Steve Spurrier is having fits there! Holtz won a national championship with Notre Dame in 1988 and had near-misses in 1989 and 1993. Holtz doesn't deserve that cheap shot and Tuberville weakens his case by being so rash.
The bottom line is the system we have is not perfect. Until we move to a playoff, there will be no perfect way to crown a national champion. But it is what it is. Blame the college chancellors and presidents all you want. But laying all the fault on ESPN and the rest of the national media is nonsense. Tuberville will have his chance within this hour to expand on his argument when he appears as a guest on the Dan Patrick Show on ESPN Radio.