What’s Wrong With This Picture?

What's wrong with this picture? By defeating UH in the C-USA Conference Championship Game on Dec. 3rd, Southern Miss knocked themselves and all other conference members out of a multi-million dollar BCS bowl game pay off.

Winners should always get the biggest cash prize, right? Well, not exactly. You see, that kind of logic “ain’t necessarily so” when you’re talking about the way things are set up with the BCS Bowls versus their lesser light post-season brethren bowls. Take last Saturday for the best example that comes to mind.

Houston (12-0) was at home facing Southern Miss (10-2) in the Conference USA Championship Game, with UH being the only club of the two that was in the running for a major BCS bowl invitation. If UH had won, they would have gone to the All State Sugar Bowl game in New Orleans and collected $17 million dollars to share with Southern Miss and all the other members of the C-USA.

Didn’t happen, USM upset UH, 49-28, to take the C-USA crown and also knock the Cougars out of the running for the cash-driven BCS Sugar Bowl. Both Southern Miss (11-2) and UH (12-1) then got minor bowl game invitations. USM will play Nevada in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl in Honolulu on Dec. 24th; UH will play Penn State in the TicketCity Bowl in Dallas on Jan. 2nd.

USM will get $750,000 to share with C-USA members; UH will receive $1.2 million dollars to split with the other conference schools.

You can do the math easy enough. Because USM defeated Houston, the net loss in revenue to C-USA is something in the $15-16 million dollar range.

Now take on the integrity questions this system invites:

USM clearly outplayed UH and deserved to win the C-USA championship. Why should they and all the other conference schools be punished financially for their on-the-field success?

Do we want schools out there throwing games when the payoff for losing is far greater than the reward for winning?

As long as NCAA football shall be governed by the BCS format, it will continue to be a system that guarantees, most of the time, that the select group of powerhouse schools will possess the greatest number of chances out there for reaching the big payoff games at season’s end. When a wild card team like Boise State, TCU, or Houston creeps into the picture for an outside shot at a BCS bowl invitation, it also sets up the possible “laying down” by some other contender club that has more to gain financially by losing than they do by winning out over Cinderella.

Southern Miss didn’t lay down. They came to Houston and played the game the way it’s supposed to be played, but so what? That’s no guarantee against the possibility that another club down the road in that situation may be willing (or feel the need) to trade integrity for cash.

Ever hear of that happening?

2 Responses to “What’s Wrong With This Picture?”

  1. Beau Wilkinson Says:

    As a USM fan, I thank you for drawing attention to the absurdity of this situation. The mood in Hattiesburg right now is beyond restless… the level of negativity is really surreal in light of what happened this season, especially on Saturday. College football needs a meaningful incentive structure to reward winners. Without one, the fans will go away. Sure, there are SEC fans who just want the rest of the country to play Washington Generals to their Harlem Globetrotters, but over time they won’t be enough to keep the sport viable (and most of them didn’t actually go to college anyway).

  2. Anthony Cavender Says:

    There have been rumors that an anti-trust investigation of the BCS system is underway.

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