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Monson: Don't rip little guys for making a big bowl

Published December 3, 2012 10:43 am

Monson • Non automatic qualifiers have a winning record in BCS bowls.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Some folks are freaking out that Northern Illinois, champion of the mighty Mid-American Conference, made the Orange Bowl on Sunday. The 12-1 Huskies broke into the top 16 of the final BCS poll by 0.0404 points, finishing ahead of a couple of AQ league champs and taking their place against 11-2 Florida State in Miami.

And the reaction of many football observers, some who think this whole development is an outrage, is good for a laugh. Oklahoma, which is 10-2 and finished 11th in the BCS standings, has been left out, they say. They do not complain as much, though, about Wisconsin, ranked way behind the Huskies, being blessed with playing in the Rose Bowl.

Watching the powers that be handle college football's postseason always has been something of a joke. Usually the rules they've put in place break in the establishment's favor. This time, thanks to past threats from the Justice Department, those rules favored the MAC, a conference that never has had a team make the BCS. Good for the little guys.

Anybody ever wonder why Cinderella is toasted and celebrated in the NCAA basketball tournament but is dogged and loathed in football's postseason?

Maybe it's because there are fewer overall opportunities in major bowls and nobody wants to be blocked from participation — and money — by some team whose major accomplishment this season was beating Kent State.

It's probably true that Oklahoma is a better team than Northern Illinois, and if the move by Utah to the Pac-12 has shown anything, it's that playing in a tougher league is not only a bigger challenge, it's a refiner's fire. (This is where defenders of the Utes' BCS bowl winners say the 2012 team was nowhere near the iterations of 2004 and 2008, and they're right about that.)

But a power structure that in the past has been so dependent on a stupid poll, on a mix of opinion and computers with data that always goes back, in one way or another, to subjective values assigned to certain achievements, got burned this year.

And that's funny.

Perhaps Florida State will kick the Huskies' trash in the Orange Bowl. I don't know. Non-AQ teams have a winning record in BCS bowls. But it's not all bad that a rep for the little guys got in. The rules and the poll put them there.

GORDON MONSON hosts "The Big Show" weekdays from 3-7 p.m. on 1280 AM/97.5 FM The Zone. Twitter: @GordonMonson. —