The Big East needs to win now if it wants any chance of salvaging a reputation. The Big 12 is crushed under the weight of it's lofty expectations. The Big Ten can't be taken seriously. The ACC is irrelevant.
It's as if every college football conference is in dire straits these days. Even the Pac-10 is still suffering from a "USC and everyone else" complex and the SEC continues to get dogged for it's scheduling practices (Tennessee and Georgia not-withstanding). Pick a BCS conference and something is going terribly wrong for them. Seems like there aren't any conferences out there who are building any kind of momentum or making any in-roads at bolstering their national reputation.
That is...except the non-BCS ones.
The Mountain West has three teams in the Top 25 (more than the Big East) and two of those teams have wins over BCS opponents (BYU over Oklahoma and TCU over Virginia). BYU is currently ranked 7th in the AP Poll.
The WAC has Boise State at #10 in the AP, winners over Oregon in the much talked-over season-opener that stood as a microcosm of the state of college football. Fresno State also took Wisconsin to double OT in Madison while Hawaii beat Washington State.
Conference USA's Houston returned to the polls for the first time since David Klinger was involved. Their program-changing win in Stillwater not only put them on the map but also jogged the memory of college fans who might have forgotten East Carolina, Tulsa and other upset specialists are lurking in the conference background.
The Mid-American Conference might not have any ranked teams but they've already racked up a few notable upsets and close calls, including Central Michigan over Michigan State and Toledo over Colorado. Bowling Green came within 7 points of Mizzou, Ohio only lost to UConn by a touchdown and Eastern Michigan pushed Northwestern to the brink this past weekend as well.
Even the Sun Belt got in on the fun last weekend when Louisiana-Lafayette topped Kansas State 17-15.
When you factor in 1-AA Northern Iowa being a blocked field goal away from upsetting Iowa, Maryland needing overtime to defeat James Madison and William & Mary actually beating Virginia (by 12 points!)...you can't help but notice what's going on in college football.
The little guys are catching up.
Now, this isn't to say that if you put Louisiana-Lafayette and USC on the field together 20 times that the Ragin' Cajuns will win even once. But put Lafayette on the field against Washington. Or Iowa State. Or even Mississippi State. And I'm willing to bet they'll hold their own more often then you think.
This past off-season, the Mountain West and Senator Orrin Hatch did what they could to try and force a change in the BCS system. A change that would have allowed them and other non-BCS schools equal access to BCS bowl games and the national championship. As-is, the system is set up to basically ensure that almost all non-BCS teams have no chance of ever playing for the national title and very few have a shot each season to play in a BCS bowl at all. Also, if one of them does break through, no other one is allowed to that season. Sorry, dems the arbitrary breaks.
Attempts at drafting new rules and even asking for the help of the government did nothing to stop the BCS from moving forward with it's agenda. And why not? As long as non-BCS schools routinely fall outside the criteria except for a couple outliers here and there, the system is "working," right? Just the same way the system "works" when there are more than two undefeated teams and only two get to play for the title because some guy with a computer in Abliene thinks one is better than the other.
The season is still so very young and things are going to change so much by the time we get to December. That said...what if the non-BCS teams that have crept into the Top 25 stay there. Sure, BYU, TCU and Utah all have to play each other. But what if one of those teams stays undefeated while another one only has one-loss and is highly-competitive otherwise? And what if at the same time Boise State goes undefeated? And at the same time Houston or Tulsa or someone else goes undefeated? And when it's all said and done, three of those teams are ranked in the top ten and all four are in the top fifteen.
How in the world do you turn all three of the "lesser" teams away from what they've rightfully earned just because they play for a non-BCS conference? You can't get more unsportsmanlike and un-American than that.
Granted, these are unlikely odds. But looking at the way things are going, it gets more likely every year. And as more non-BCS teams start the season with high rankings, the odds get even better. And once we reach the point where it's no longer deniable that a Mountain West team is easily on the same plane as any BCS team...that's when it will be impossible for the NCAA to keep this charade up any longer. When the Big Ten and ACC and Big East present 3 and 4-loss teams as preferred choices to an 11-1 MWC or WAC team and everyone truly knows the non-BCS school is better, then you'll have a case to take to court. Or Capitol Hill. Or anyone else.
But it's the court of public opinion that'll make it happen. All the fancy words and laws and arguments in the world don't hold up to beating a top-ranked BCS team on their own turf on national television. Right, BYU?
If the NCAA were smart, they'd read the writing on the wall and invite the MWC to join the BCS right now. Just give them one of the "wild card" slots in the BCS rotation and you're all set. As for them wanting to stand united with the WAC and others, don't worry. There's no loyalty amongst thieves, especially with that much money on the table. Besides, while that won't solve the issue, it will delay it. As the Mountain West continues to improve as a whole, you can still make the argument the WAC, CUSA and others just aren't fit for inclusion yet despite the occasional undefeated team.
The NCAA would be hailed as progressive without giving up their archaic, horrible, good ol' boys system. The Mountain West would get the reward it deserves for building football programs that can hold their own with any team in the nation.
Every week that passes, it seems, another couple upsets go down. This weekend there's quite a few games that catch the eye (Northern Illinois - Purdue, East Carolina - North Carolina, Virginia - Southern Miss, Tulsa - Oklahoma). And as they continue to happen and more non-BCS teams continue to beat their BCS counterparts, the divide will continue to shrink. Until one day when, at least in most cases, you won't be able to tell the difference.