In BCS eyes, Miami ranks 2nd

'Canes pass Oklahoma

computers put Utah 7th in first week of standings

College Football

October 19, 2004|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

In a season filled with upsets, the first Bowl Championship Series rankings announced yesterday produced yet another surprise.

It wasn't a shock that top-ranked Southern California took the top spot in the BCS poll, but most were expecting No. 2 Oklahoma to remain in the position the Sooners have occupied in the Associated Press and the USA Today/ESPN polls since the preseason rankings in August.

Instead, Miami pushed Oklahoma down to No. 3. The Hurricanes were rewarded for beating two ranked teams (Florida State and Louisville), while Oklahoma was punished for having beaten only one (Texas) and having played all but two of its first six games at home.

The initial results even startled Big 12 commissioner and BCS coordinator Kevin Weiberg.

"I think I was a little surprised, to tell you the truth," Weiberg said during the Big 12's weekly teleconference.

The formula was retooled after the two top-ranked teams didn't meet for the national championship last season, the third time in the BCS' five years that it happened.

Instead, No. 2 Louisiana State played No. 3 Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl, and No. 1 Southern Cal played Michigan in the Rose Bowl. LSU and Southern Cal shared the title after their respective victories.

Weiberg admitted that last spring's overhaul of the BCS formula, which was supposed to place more emphasis on the human polls rather than the computer polls, didn't necessarily have any impact on the first BCS poll of the season.

In fact, it was the average rank of the computer polls that was the overriding factor in Oklahoma's slippage. The Sooners were ranked fifth by the computer polls, behind USC, Miami, Auburn and Utah, which made it all the way to seventh in the BCS rankings despite being ninth in AP and 10th in USA Today/ESPN.

"It's obviously very early. It's important that there not be an overreaction to this poll," Weiberg said.

But even Weiberg could appreciate the fact that the new system still has kinks to work out. A year ago, the Sooners took advantage of the formula after losing to Kansas State in the Big 12 championship game. Oklahoma still managed to be invited to the Sugar Bowl to play for the national championship.

Yesterday, the Sooners fell victim to the new formula.

"I supposed there's a little bit of irony there," Weiberg said.

Auburn is fourth in the BCS poll, followed by Florida State, Wisconsin, Utah and California. The Utes benefited from a No. 4 ranking in the computer polls.

If Utah of the Mountain West Conference keeps winning, it could become the first team from outside the BCS conferences to earn an at-large bid. The Atlantic Coast, Big Ten, Big 12, Big East, Pac-10 and Southeastern conferences reward their champions with an automatic berth in the four BCS games -- the Orange, Sugar, Rose and Fiesta bowls.

The new BCS formula, which takes into account the rankings in the two human polls as well as four computer polls (six were used previously), also was not supposed to factor in a team's strength of schedule, but clearly Miami's wins over the Seminoles and Cardinals helped the Hurricanes.

"Our philosophy is that the only thing we can control is how we play," said Miami coach Larry Coker, whose Hurricanes survived a 41-38 thriller at home against Louisville on Thursday.

"We firmly believe that if we play well and win, our rankings in the polls and the BCS will reflect this and that we will be rewarded for those efforts. Because we have been named the No. 2 in first BCS standings, our job now is to respond and move forward."

Weiberg said that as the season moves along, there should be less variance between the human polls and the computer polls.

At least one critic of the BCS formula believes that the new system looks much like the old one.

In an article for the op-ed page of Sunday's New York Times, University of Minnesota biostatistics professor Bradley P. Carlin wrote, "No matter how you arrange the formula, the BCS remains nothing more than an elaborate seeding system for a two-team tournament ... [with] a high risk of crowning the wrong champion."

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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