Utes stagnant in BCS rankings

After running its winning streak to 12 in-a-row and crippling a vaunted San Diego State defense last weekend, the U football team (8-0, 3-0) made an impact on the national media as well as the coaches, as evidenced by recent polls. Released Sunday afternoon, both human polls reflected an ever-increasing respect for the accomplishments of the Utes, despite a faction of U haters that still insist the Utes have not faced a difficult schedule.

The Utes moved up two spots in both polls-going from No. 10 in the ESPN/USA Today poll to No. 8, and moving from No. 9 to No. 7 in the AP poll. The No. 7 ranking is historic for the Utes, since they have never been ranked higher than eighth, which happened twice in 1994.

U head coach Urban Meyer is pleased by the recognition the Utes are receiving, but he is adamant that it does not become a focal point for his team.

When asked what he would tell his team upon hearing the news that they had received the highest ranking in the school’s history, Meyer said that his remarks would be brief.

“I will congratulate them and then tell them not to discuss it anymore,” Meyer said. “We recognize [the rankings] for about a minute. We just want to get to 9-0 right now.”

Moving up two spots in both major polls was significant in maintaining a top-six ranking in the Bowl Championship Series formula, but with Florida State and Miami both losing-teams that were both ahead of the Utes-U fans were expecting the Utes to move up in the BCS rankings. It didn’t happen.

The Utes found themselves still ranked No. 6 by the BCS after California jumped all the way from No. 8 to No. 4 following a decisive victory over Arizona State. Wisconsin, which was inactive last weekend, somehow leapfrogged the Utes to secure a No. 5 ranking.

The fact that an inactive team could jump ahead of the Utes demonstrated how truly precarious the No. 6 ranking can be. If the Utes finish the season ranked in the top six by the BCS, they are assured of a spot in a BCS bowl, but if they finish anywhere outside of the top six, the bowl selection committees would most likely not choose the Utes.

Meyer is uncertain as to whether or not the BCS ranking is good or bad for the team. He doesn’t want it to become a distraction, but he enjoys all of the national recognition the Utes can get. He said that as the Utes gain more respect nationally, recruits are more likely to be enticed to choose the U.

“A lot of people are saying the word Utah,” Meyer said. “The drum and feather are becoming very identifiable, and we’re using that to our full advantage.”

Meyer was clearly bothered about the criteria used by the BCS. Knowing that margin of victory can affect BCS rankings-a factor that has less value this year than in previous years-Meyer said that honorable coaches are being driven to make less-than-honorable decisions.

“I heard that Bob Stoops said he scored against Kansas with 10 seconds left [because of the BCS],” Meyer said. “If that isn’t a failure of the BCS, I don’t know what is. If you have one of the classiest football coaches in college football forgetting about the student athlete, forgetting about the opponent, forgetting about the opponent’s fans and scoring a point with 10 seconds left-that’s a failure of the system.”

“We will never do that,” Meyer added.

While the coach is torn as to the value of a high BCS ranking, the Mountain West Conference is not. Every team in the MWC would receive $1.4 million in revenue if the Utes qualify for a BCS bowl, something that has never happened in the history of the MWC.

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