ESPN’s Trev Alberts is wrong about U

ESPN college football analyst Trev Alberts, a Nebraska alumnus, remarked on College Game Day Final last Saturday that the No. 14 Utes were overrated. He felt the Utes weren’t beating their opponents handily enough to prove their worth as legitimate BCS busters.

Conversely, in an article he wrote on Monday for ESPN.com he lauded the USC Trojans for their come-from-behind 31-28 victory over Stanford, claiming “teams that make championship runs don’t always blow every opponent away, usually making for a defining game that showcases a team’s ability to respond to adversity and find a way to win.”

After falling behind Air Force by 14 early, the Utes showcased resiliency, and not only found a way to win, but also found a way to win big, in a game that was over with seven minutes remaining.

But Alberts didn’t see it that way. He looked at the final score, which was padded by an Air Force garbage time touchdown, and decided that 14 points was insufficient.

USC, on the other hand, barely sneaked by their conference rivals, but Alberts ruled the game a success. In his view, it was because the Trojans passed a character test.

I fail to see the logic in this distinction.

What I can see is a media bias favoring the big-time conferences that is based more on tradition than on the current quality of the football teams that comprise them.

While Utah vies for the first ever mid-major at-large bid to a BCS bowl, they will not just be battling UNC and their MWC opponents. Utah will also have to withstand the millions of dollars that teams from the major conferences can guarantee to BCS bowl committees.

So even if Utah does go undefeated this year, then they still might be stuck with the Liberty Bowl. Because if teams like Michigan, Ohio State, Texas, etc., are in position to receive at-large bids, those schools have proven their ability to generate millions in revenue for their hosts.

To qualify for a BCS bowl at-large bid, a team must be in the Top 12 in the final BCS standings. Beyond that, it is entirely up to the discretion of the bowl committee to decide which team they will pick to face their automatic qualifier, i.e. major conference champion.

Of the four BCS bowl games, the Fiesta Bowl, played in Tempe, Ariz., would likely be the most receptive to the Utes, given it’s proximity to Utah. The Fiesta, however, is more likely to select a proven, money-making, major-conference opponent to face the Big-12 champion, like they did in 2003 when they selected the Ohio State Buckeyes.

Ohio State went on to beat surprise Big 12 Champion Kansas State 35-28, but the real surprise to many fans was the fact that Ohio State made it to the bowl in the first place.

Ohio State finished the regular season 10-2, but was less than impressive in doing so. In week two, the Buckeyes beat San Diego State (6-6) by a mere three points in Columbus, then needed three overtimes to beat NC State (8-5) the following week.

Then four weeks after, another mid-major school, Bowling Green, came within seven points of beating the Buckeyes in Columbus, a dismal Penn State team (3-9) missed a game-winning field goal as time expired and Ohio State escaped by the skin of their Buckeyes.

To top off their string of “defining games that showcased” their “ability to overcome adversity,” i.e. ugly wins, the Buckeyes dropped their final game of the season to Michigan.

But the Fiesta Bowl committee selected them in a similar fashion.

So the quality of a team is clearly secondary to the amount of money they can generate.

Unfortunately for the Utes, they are an unproven business at this point, and therefore a risky investment for a BCS bowl committee.

The Utes can guarantee a BCS appearance by finishing in the top six of the final BCS poll, but must otherwise rely on national hype. This includes playing the role of charming underdog if they want to appear in a BCS bowl game.

Aside from their on-field opponents, the Utes biggest enemies are the Trev Alberts of the world who are hell-bent on promoting their alma maters, and other big-time conference programs, by verbally squashing the up-and-comers like Utah.

Having seen $14 million go to both schools that competed in the Fiesta Bowl last season, there is plenty at stake in the BCS argument. So if Trev Alberts were to have one of those “defining” incidents “that showcase” his “ability” to break the law in the upcoming weeks, the Utes would probably have a better chance to “overcome adversity.”

[email protected]