CLEMSON -- Surely the Bowl Championship Series has come up as a topic of
discussion during the Bowden family vacation.
During that week in July when all thirty-something members of Bobby Bowden's
family gathers at Panama City Beach, Fla., there's plenty of football talk.
That much we know.
It's unlikely, however, that even the Bowdens can completely understand how
the BCS works or exactly what you need to do to get one of the top two spots
in the poll.
"My father is old school and hates anything new fangled," said Terry Bowden.
"But even he has come to the realization that he must talk to the athletic
director and be sure the team's schedule doesn't keep them from having a
shot at the national title."
The release of the first BCS poll this week has one Bowden worried and the
Bobby Bowden thinks he needs some help to get his Florida State team into
the national championship game at the Orange Bowl on Jan. 3.
"We need some of the top people to get knocked off," he said. "If we win all
our games, we still need something to happen. I don't worry about Clemson
and Florida because we play them. I want them to do well."
Clemson coach Tommy Bowden, on the other hand, said he slept through the
release of the BCS rankings during Monday Night Football. He figures his
team will be OK if it wins the rest of its games.
"I don't care that much about the BSC or the BCS or whatever. It's not a
factor until the eleventh game," he said. "Not a factor. If we lose the next
three games, the BCS is not a factor with me."
Both are correct. While there's only so much a team can do to improve its
standing, there are certain things that would have to happen for either FSU
or Clemson to move up.
"Strength of schedule is important," said Tommy. "We've played two teams
that haven't won a game. OK, if we beat the second-ranked team in the
nation, that's an easy scenario. To me it's worked perfectly, other than the
fact that South Carolina should be ranked higher than they are."
Florida State (No. 5) is ranked higher in the BCS than Clemson (No. 7).
Florida State also has two BCS-ranked teams (Florida and Clemson) left on
its schedule while Clemson has just one (FSU). So, it would figure that
Florida State has a better chance to increase its strength of schedule, and
it has fewer teams to leap over than Clemson.
Maybe the elder Bowden's concern has something to do with the amount of time
he has left to win another national championship. There are only so many
years left for him at FSU, while Tommy is just a year and a half into his
tenure at Clemson.
If Clemson does win the rest of its games, it will certainly be ranked
higher than it's current position. How much higher isn't clear. Of the four
components of the BCS ranking, three penalize a team for having a weak
schedule. The first part of the BCS is the average of the AP and ESPN/USA
Today polls. It's likely that if Clemson had a tougher schedule and was
still undefeated, the team would be ranked higher.
The average of several computer polls is next. They have a strength of
schedule component built into them and it has penalized Clemson severely.
The third component is Clemson's strength of schedule rank, divided by 25.
Clemson ranks 97th in the nation in strength of schedule.
All numbers will change in the Tigers' favor if the win out. Whether it will
be enough to rise to at least No. 2 doesn't concern Clemson's Bowden.
"It's a good system," said Tommy. "It's effective. The best two teams have
played so far with the system. I like the system and the way it ranks teams.
The way we're ranked is not important until the end of the season. It works
and it's effective."