Should the Mountain West gain an auto-bid?
The blogosphere is running rampant with BCS proponent outrage at the MWC's audacity at thinking it should be included in the "mainstream" of college football. The MWC is just not up to par with the larger conferences, or so they say. The argument is predicated on the assumption that outside of TCU, Utah and BYU, the MWC doesn't have anyone worth letting play D-1A (I refuse to call it the "Football Bowl Sub-Division") football. The main problem with people arguing against MWC inclusion using the "Not BCS caliber" line is that they don't really seem to take into consideration the roster of current auto-bid conferences. I don't think there is any one BCS conference that can say every one of their members is a true National contender every year, even if they, technically, all are contenders when the year begins. If you only judge a conference by its cellar dwellers, let's take stock of the last three years.
SEC - Miss. St. - 15-22
Big 12 - Baylor - 13-22
Big Ten - Indiana - 12-23
Big East - Syracuse - 9-27
Pac 10 - Washington - 8-29
ACC - Duke - 5-30
-- Non "Dweller" but worth including --
Notre Dame - 20-18
No matter how you dice it, all of those teams are in the running for BCS bowl and National Champion consideration every year. That's right, that lot, with a combined record of 82-171, have a better shot at winning a national championship than TCU (30-9) or Utah (30-9). But why? If they are able to miraculously go 13-0 next season, they would most likely win the BCS National Championship. Why? Because they are true football powerhouses? Because they are rich in tradition and have shown football excellence through out the years? Nope, the conference they happen to be in is part of the system that allows it. Only one of them is above .500 and that's the team with a special inclusion because of its "Football Heritage". So I ask you, BCS proponents and MWC naysayers, is it fair that these teams have an opportunity to ride along on the coat-tails of so called "larger" programs thereby allowing them to have a shot at the big prize while the TCU's and Utah's have to fight ten times as hard just to get a consolation prize and pat on the head by the national media? For the record, San Diego State has gone 9-27 in those 3 years, that ties for fourth place in the BCS cellar dweller rankings!
In general the MWC is just as bad or good as the media makes them out to be. Specifically, I'd argue that the MWC isn't any worse off than two of the current BCS auto-bid leagues, the Big East and ACC. The names UConn, USF, Louisville, Cincinnati, Duke, Wake Forest, NC State and Rutgers don't exactly bring to mind high quality winning programs nor do they exactly strike fear into the hearts of most die hard football fans. The sad part of that is that Cincinnati WON the Big East this last year. They then proceeded to lose to the ACC "power" Virginia Tech. A team that wouldn't have given Utah or TCU much, if any, trouble. The fact is, if you put TCU or Utah on the field with 5 (VT, Cincy, Ohio St., Penn St. and Bama) out of the 9 BCS auto-bid players this year they'd most likely come out on top (and Utah did v Bama). What does that mean? Nothing. It could mean that two schools from the MWC, a non-auto bid conference, could probably beat the best that the Big East, ACC and Big Ten had to offer, but it is something that we won't have a chance to see proven because of the current system.
So, if I had a choice, do I want the Mountain West to be included in the BCS? My simple answer is, no. And that is because there shouldn't be a BCS. That being said, if things stay the way they are, do I want the Mountain West included? Yes... the slanted, ill conceived, poorly implemented chance at a National championship is better than no chance at all.