Sports 56 WHBlog Q

January 5, 2009

The Utah Problem

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Peter Edmiston @ 10:32 am

Why shouldn’t Utah be given at least a piece of the national championship? That, in a nutshell, is the Utah problem. Utah handled Alabama rather easily on January 2nd, winning the Sugar Bowl by two touchdowns and cementing a 13-0 season. Utah beat a team that was beating Florida for three quarters and was 15 minutes away from a trip to Miami for the National Championship game. Let’s think about that for a moment – Utah started strongly against Alabama, and never trailed in the game. They consistently got pressure on John Parker Wilson and forced him into one of his worst performances in recent memory. They threw the ball at will against a strangely passive ‘Bama secondary. They beat them handily.

Utah also beat an Oregon State team that had beaten USC earlier in the season. The Mountain West Conference, of which Utah was the champion, was 7-1 against the Pac-10 in the regular season and postseason, proving them superior to at least one BCS conference. There is no logical reason the Mountain West shouldn’t be treated with as least as much respect as the Pac-10 , the Big East, the Big 10, or the ACC. So what does Utah have to do to get some respect?

The national championship is a complete fallacy, anyway. The winner of the Florida/Oklahoma game will be considered the BCS champion – and rightly so, those are the rules – of this year’s college football season. But there’s no reason the writers have to respect those rules…and they need to vote Utah as their national champion to send a message that college football needs to hear right now. Fans and writers alike need to stand up and quit condoning this sham of a system through their silence. There are millions of fans of teams like Utah, Boise State, TCU, and so on, whose teams have no legitimate path towards winning a national title. Why do you continue to support a system that is so inherently flawed? If you are a Utah fan, why would you care about a sport that has denied your team a national title despite winning EVERY SINGLE GAME you played this season. There is literally nothing more Utah could have done this year. And the best they can hope for is what they’ve got right now – a truckload of sympathy, a Sugar bowl trophy, and the chance to watch someone else be declared national champion. Why compete at a sport you can never win? What is the point?

I know some of you (in a Weinberger-esque argument) will tell me that Utah would never have been undefeated in the SEC or the Big 12, so they shouldn’t ever be in consideration for a national title. That’s foolish. We deal with things as they are, not as they could be. Until Utah’s conference is given the same financial benefit as the SEC or the Big 12, the comparison is invalid. And until Utah gets a legitimate chance to schedule like Alabama, Oklahoma, or whomever, the comparison is invalid. You think Alabama would ever play Utah in the regular season in a home and home situation? Absolutely not. Look what happened to Michigan when they scheduled Utah. Teams from BCS conferences do not like to put themselves in a situation where they can lose to a perceived “inferior” conference opponent. It’s embarrassing. Because of that, it’s virtually impossible for Utah to legitimately schedule at the highest level. And one other thing – the Mountain West is now 7-3 over the last 10 years in bowl games, by the way. It’s a better record than just about anyone else over that time period.

You cannot prove that Utah shouldn’t be the national champion, just as you cannot prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the winner of Florida/Oklahoma should be. Split it this year, then put a playoff system in place.

It is truly hard to believe that a sport would actively avoid figuring out which team is the best. But that’s college football for you.

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