By Mike Kays
Phoenix Sports Editor
Come Sunday, voters will vote, computers will compile data, and it will be done, for good.
Finally we can at least blow the computers up.
The teamwork that’s brought you and I the Bowl Championship Series can be given a retirement party — guys like Richard Billingsley of Hugo, whose computer in the past has helped the local teams a little more than others.
Oklahoma alone should pick up the tab on his retirement gift. Consider the following:
• Billingsley had OU second in 2003 even after a blowout loss against Kansas State in the Big 12 championship game. The system agreed and that’s where the Sooners finished before going to New Orleans and losing to the Tigers. Unbeaten USC was left out in the cold.
• In 2004, the Sooners were second behind USC but Billingsley had the Sooners first. Both went to the national title game. USC routed the Sooners 55-19. Unbeaten Auburn, third going into the bowls, beat Virginia Tech 16-13 to remain unblemished, but without a title shot.
• In 2008, his computer among others didn’t compute Mack Brown’s pleading and gave the Sooners the ranking edge in the Big 12 South’s three-way tiebreaker and ultimately, following a win against Missouri in the conference championship, the top ranking over Florida in the final rankings, Texas came in third and Texas Tech seventh. And of course, the ultimate outcome was a win by Tim Tebow and the Gators over Sam Bradford and the Sooners.
Setting aside the goodwill handed OU....
• In 2011, Billingsley had Oklahoma State second behind LSU, which won the SEC, having defeated Alabama for the SEC West title. He was in the minority and the Cowboys finished behind Alabama in both the computers and the polls. And of course, Alabama walloped LSU in New Orleans for its first of back-to-back national titles and second in three years.
FYI: Oklahoma State is seventh in his formula at the moment, trailing the Noles, Bucks, Auburn, Tide, Missouri and Stanford. But he gives the Cowboys the second-best ranking among the computer gurus. Two have them out of the top 10: Kenneth Massey has them 15th.
Regional bias? Depends, I guess, on the person entering the data or the data chosen by the person entering it. Either way, I think that computes into the potential for tainted contrasts. But as its proponents have long maintained, it’s the best system we’ve got and for the sake of finding a champion, usually the best team won.
So next year, we get a four-team playoff.
Earlier this week, I read CNHI colleague Jason Elmquist’s column in the Stillwater NewsPress where he suggested had the current system died a year earlier, Mike Gundy and company might be sitting pretty for a trip to Pasadena and a battle for the Sears Trophy.
Not so fast, as Lee Corso is prone to utter.
Let’s say Florida State beats Duke as expected to win the ACC and Ohio State takes care of Michigan in the Big Ten title game, That would take care of two of the four semifinal spots. The third would go to the winner of Auburn, third in the BCS, or Missouri. We would assume that an Auburn win would certainly bump Missouri out of the picture, but what about Auburn? Would a loss drop them below a victorious OSU team against the Sooners? And what about idle Alabama, sitting in fourth?
Most likely, we’d hear the screams from Boone Pickens’ living room when Florida State, Ohio State, the SEC champ and Alabama are paired in the two semifinal games.
But then, we’d be going on the assumption that the new selection committee would pick different than the combined forces of the computer geeks, coaches and Harris Ratings folks. This new group is a lot like the Harris group, a range of people from different walks. Among them are Father Manning (Archie, daddy of Peyton and Eli) and former Bush cabinet member and would-be NFL commissioner candidate Condoleeza Rice.
That’s not a wise assumption, but I can still hear those screams from the fifth-best team in the country every year.