Lousiana State University is arguing that they are playing as well as anybody in the country right now. They are right that their only loss was to a top Bowl Championship Series team – Florida – and that by the merits of that loss being “better” than Ohio State’s loss to Wisconsin and University of Southern California’s loss to California, they belong in the number two slot. They are so wrong.

LSU forgets to factor in their weak overall schedule, especially their laughable nonconference schedule. LSU’s nonconference opponents have a combined five wins against Division 1A competition. Even Kansas State scheduled tougher games this year than that, and they’re willing to play intramural teams. LSU belongs right were they are in fourth place.

Last week the computers said USC was number two. This week, by virtue of USC’s 45-0 win over Arizona, the BCS rewarded the Trojans by demoting them to third – take a moment to scratch your head. USC has played the most impressive football outside of Oklahoma all season long and scored more points in a half than OSU does in four games. If USC wins out and OSU beats Michigan, we’ll see what The Associated Press and ESPN polls do with the two teams. The answer will likely determine who gets a shot at knocking off Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl.

Ohio State, this week’s BCS number two, thinks that they deserve a shot to defend their title if they finish 11-1 with a win over Michigan. This week, their defensive coordinator stated that any defending champion in OSU’s position should get the nod to play in the championship game. The BCS is about looking at how a team performs over an entire season, not rewarding them for their past achievements. That’s what recruiting is for. Ohio State has to go out and earn a Sugar Bowl bid, much like Oklahoma does week in and week out. However, Ohio State might have the opportunity to do just that this weekend with a win over Michigan.

Let me see if I’ve got this straight. The Big East’s highest rated teams in the BCS – number 12 Miami, number 15 Virginia Tech – are leaving the conference next year, they are the only two Big East schools to finish in the top 12 of the final BCS poll – ever, and only one other Big East team has qualified for a BCS bowl in any of the past ten seasons.

There is no question that the Little East is a glorified mid-major after next year.

Big East officials claim that they will be the sixth best conference, although they concede that they will be a weak number six. I think they’ll be the eighth best conference behind the Big XII, Southeastern Conference, Big 10, Atlantic Coast Conference, Pacific 10, Mountain West, and Middle America Conference. They will remain ahead of Conference USA, the Sun Belt, and the Western Athletic Conference, but with teams like Temple, Connecticut, and Rutgers, this proposition is tenuous at best. Syracuse and Cincinatti are only a marginal improvement from Tulsa and Nevada.

When the BCS contract comes up for renewal, I think only five conferences should receive automatic bids – Big XII, SEC, Big 10, ACC, and the Pacific 10. A sixth automatic bid should go to the highest rated champion from all the mid-majors, including the Big East. Hence if Colorado State wins the Mountain West championship and is ranked ninth in the BCS, they should get the automatic bid if no other mid-major champion is rated higher in the BCS. However, the Big East is by no means the same conference it was with Miami, Virginia Tech, and Boston College.

The Fighting Irish of Notre Dame are mulling a move to a conference. They’ve resisted overtures to play in the Big 10 and the ACC. They’ve all but laughed at offers of full partnership in the Big East – wouldn’t you? Why are the Irish all of a sudden looking to get into the ACC after a century-plus of independence?

The answers – gold, God, and glory. The factors driving Christian missionaries to the New World still resonate in the capital of college football. Sure, Touchdown Jesus is the epitome of money, Christianity, and success in college football, but Notre Dame will surely find it much tougher, if not impossible, to sustain that level of success any further. Now the gold from NBC’s coffers aren’t enough anymore. God still loves Notre Dame, just not enough to give them a fighting chance to win on Saturdays. And let’s face it – the glory of being Notre Dame has worn off considerably as of late.

Notre Dame just isn’t Notre Dame anymore. Thirty years ago, recruits would line up from Philadelphia to Los Angeles to play for the Irish. Today their players come from the Midwest. Top recruits list Oklahoma, Texas, Miami, and Florida State as their top choices, not Notre Dame. The Irish realize now what Penn State realized years ago — history loses something when the present isn’t enough to back it up. Present success lies in a major conference, not in independence.

Tipton can be reached at rtipton@campustimes.org

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