TEN YEARS OF BCS: 1999
The Guru's Note: Beginning in June, the Guru will publish a
review of each of the 10 seasons since the Bowl Championship Series
came into existence in 1998. In this series --
Ten Years of BCS -- the Guru will examine the
results from these seasons -- who got lucky and who got robbed, what
could've been, what should've been and other controversies of the day.
The series will appear weekly leading up to the 2008 season.
Give yourself a big pat on the back, BCS. You
deserve it. You got it right.
You matched up the only two undefeated major conference teams in the
national championship game. Brilliant! Couldn't have done it without
What's was left unsaid was: "Whew!"
Despite the obvious -- only Florida State and Virginia Tech emerged
from the regular season unbeaten -- there were doubts about whether
they'd face each other in the Sugar Bowl for the national title. At
the end, Virginia Tech had a barely comfortable margin to hold off
one-loss No. 3 Nebraska to play in the title game.
In the 10-year history of the BCS, 1999 had to be one of the most
uneventful. The Seminoles went wire-to-wire as the No. 1 team, their
place in New Orleans never in question. Upset losses by Penn State and
Tennessee in the first two weeks of November paved the way for
Virginia Tech to seize the No. 2 ranking.
The Hokies, led by redshirt freshman quarterback Michael Vick, had to
sweat out the final four weeks of the regular season mostly because of
a soft schedule. With strength of schedule a separate component
accounting for nearly one-third of the BCS standings, Virginia Tech
had a hard time gaining breathing room from the Cornhuskers, finishing
just 1.30 points ahead in the final standings.
Just as in 1998, an undefeated non-BCS conference team finished
the regular season unbeaten. And just like Tulane, a 12-0 Marshall
team was shut out of a BCS bowl despite finishing No. 12 in the final
standings. And one more thing like the Green Wave: The Thundering
Herd, quarterbacked by Chad Pennington, completed a perfect season
with a victory over BYU, in the Motor City Bowl.
In the Sugar Bowl, Vick rallied the Hokies to take a 29-28 lead at the
end of the third quarter. But the Seminoles scored the game's final 18
points in the fourth quarter, giving Bobby Bowden his second, and
final, national championship.
Final BCS Standings: 1. Florida State, 2. Virginia Tech, 3.
Nebraska, 4. Alabama.
* Using present day BCS formula: 1. Florida State, 2. Virginia Tech.
* Using human polls only: 1. Florida State, 2. Virginia Tech.
* Plus-One: Florida State vs. Alabama; Virginia Tech vs. Nebraska.
* Kansas State snub II: Well, it wasn't quite as egregious as
the one in 1998, but the Wildcats once again earned the dubious honor
of being the highest-ranked team not invited to a BCS bowl. K-State,
ranked No. 6 with its only loss to Nebraska, was passed up by the
Fiesta Bowl (No. 5 Tennessee) and Orange Bowl (No. 8 Michigan). But
unlike the previous year, the Wildcats managed to hold it together and
win the Holiday Bowl, 24-20, over Washington.
* Marshall snub: With today's arrangement, the Herd would've
earned an automatic BCS berth. But with strength-of-schedule a key
component in the formula at the time, Marshall was doomed by its
98th-place schedule. The MAC champs, however, would become the last
undefeated team not to play in a BCS bowl.
BCS Formula Review: Five more computer rankings were added to
the formula -- Billingsley, Dunkel, Massey, Matthews and Rothman --
bringing the total to eight. The lowest ranking among the eight was
dropped and the remaining seven averaged to produce the computer
ranking. Also, a "Kansas State clause" was added, guaranteeing any
team finishing in the top four a BCS bowl spot, but the Wildcats
weren't in position to benefit from it.
Analysis: Two years in, the BCS appeared to be producing the
desired results. The title games matched deserving teams and the other
BCS bowls featured interesting matchups. But this was only the calm
before the storm, as raging controversies were about to envelope the
BCS, forcing major changes almost annually in the coming years.
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