Random thoughts while wondering: If scientists say the universe is expanding, what is it expanding into?
THAT IS A DEEP AND PONDEROUS QUESTION,
one that has plagued scholars for centuries and likely will for centuries to come.
We have, however, an even deeper and more ponderous question, one that we believe defies suitable explanation:
How is it that the Virginia Tech and Michigan football teams deserve BCS bowl bids this year?
Answer that one, and then we can tackle quantum physics.
PERHAPS SOMEHOW, SOME WAY it can be explained to someone how it is fair that Michigan landed the Sugar Bowl spot next to Virginia Tech instead of Kansas State, Arkansas, South Carolina, Baylor, Michigan State or Boise State.
We're not buying it, but we defer to the notion that it might be comprehensible to some for Michigan to get an invite, fair or not.
At least Michigan plays in the fairly tough Big 10 Conference, even if the Wolverines did finish tied for third and lost to Big-10 title game participant and second-place league finisher Michigan State by two touchdowns.
BUT VIRGINIA TECH IN THE SUGAR BOWL next to Michigan? That's a concept inconceivable to us.
The only above-average team other than Virginia Tech in the Atlantic Coast Conference -- a league no better or arguably worse than the much-maligned Big East Conference -- was Clemson.
Clemson mopped up the field with Virginia Tech both times they played this year, especially this past Saturday in the Tigers' 38-10 pasting of the Hokies in the ACC championship game.
Virginia Tech finished 11-2 and ranked 11th in the BCS poll, but in substance both are as shallow as a kiddie pool.
The same goes for the decision to send the Hokies to the Sugar Bowl.
OTHER THAN THE FACT THAT WE LIKE to ridicule the deceitful and pompously nouveau riche Virginia Tech athletic department every chance we get (and please, don't get us started on Michigan), we mention them to lead a WVU-oriented column because both programs' unwarranted selection to a BCS game are indicative of a situation that affects WVU.
The situation is that the BCS -- full name Bowl Championship Series -- is a broken system that often since its inception in 1997 hasn't worked well and this year has barely worked at all.
IT NOT ONLY HAS PRODUCED the unseemly VT-Michigan match-up, but has given us another farce by providing Alabama a slot in the Jan. 9 national championship game against LSU, a team to which it already has lost this year in Alabama.
Oklahoma State -- the more deserving team when you compare such things as strength of schedule and wins over ranked teams -- has been deprived of one shot at top-ranked LSU, yet Alabama gets two.
THESE HAPPENINGS HAVE drawn a hue and cry throughout the college football world and also have drawn calls to drastically realign the BCS system to such a point that BCS bowls such as the Sugar, Rose, Fiesta and Orange could be de-emphasized in importance in a quest for more fairness in major bowl selection.
Good luck with that.
FAIR IS NOT AN OPERATIVE WORD for the guys in garish jackets.
Fair does not exist in the BCS vernacular.
To these guys, fair is for suckers.
The Sugar Bowl brass ordained that Virginia Tech and Michigan would draw better television ratings and punted the words "fair" and "deserving" out of the conversation.
They resorted to good old boy ways and went with the familiar names, especially with the Michigan choice.
WE SUSPECT THAT ENOUGH VOTERS in the BCS' Coaches and Harris polls fell into a similar political trap by giving Alabama enough support to offset Oklahoma State's edge in the computer polls and allow the Crimson Tide to narrowly slip into the title game.
Oklahoma State's real problem was not having the historical clout of Alabama.
Kansas State and Boise State?
LET US ASK you something.
Do you think if Notre Dame had the exact schedule and record this year as Oklahoma State had that the Fighting Irish would be denied a trip to the national title game in favor of Alabama?
We suspect not.
Do you think if Texas had the exact schedule and record this year as Big 12 partner Kansas State had that the Longhorns would be left out of the Sugar Bowl in favor of Virginia Tech or even Michigan?
It happened to Oklahoma State and Kansas State because they are aren't Notre Dame, or Texas or another college football blue blood.
IT SEEMS FROM HERE
that the only way to impose a fairness doctrine on this unholy alliance is to scotch the whole BCS system and seek another bowl mechanism that curtails the influence of bowl committees.
That already is being discussed, as is instituting some kind of a playoff system and getting rid of automatic qualifying for six conference football champions, including the teetering Big East.
FROM WVU'S CURRENT PERSPECTIVE of heading to the Big 12, that probably would be a good thing because it would create another opening among major bowls.
Under the Mountaineers' previous perspective as a Big East member, the pending loss of the automatic BCS bid would have been a bad thing.
Counting this year, WVU has participated in three BCS bowl games, the other two being in 2005 and 2007.
THE BIG EAST'S AUTOMATIC BID IS fully responsible for WVU's Orange Bowl invite this year, for sure, and who knows how things would have played out in 2007 without it.
That season -- as we regretfully remember -- the Mountaineers lost to lowly Pitt the last game of the regular season to miss a national title game appearance, but still had a Fiesta Bowl bid because they won the Big East title.
Despite news this week that Boise State, Houston, Southern Methodist, San Diego State and Central Florida will become part of a farflung, bicoastal Big East football conference, we think that the Big East's automatic BCS spot likely will be gone after the 2013 season when the current BCS agreement is slated to end.
It's another reason among several why WVU athletic officials felt they had to bail from the Big East.
*An 11-1 or 10-2 regular season would have been preferable to 9-3, of course, but judging from how things developed, WVU probably would have ended up in the Orange Bowl with a loss or two less.
*WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen, quarterback Geno Smith and the rest of the Mountaineer offense have a month to fine-tune and prepare an Orange Bowl game plan. That can only be good news and we expect that WVU will he able to move the ball against the Clemson defense. We predict a high-scoring game reaching into the 30s for the winner.
*We predict WVU 35, Clemson 31.
*Oddsmakers have installed Clemson as a 3 1/2-point favorite.
*Rumors persist that WVU defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel is being wooed by Rich Rodriguez to join him in his new job at Arizona. Casteel turned Rodriguez down when she skipped WVU for Michigan, but maybe things have changed this time around.
*Do you think there might have been a personal motive for Alabama head coach Nick Saban to vote Oklahoma State fourth in the final regular season Coaches Poll? You don't think the fact that Oklahoma State finishing ahead of Alabama in the Coaches Poll might have knocked Saban's team out of the title game had anything to do with his lowball OSU vote, do you?
*WVU is getting generally positive feedback in early BCS bowl commentary. So is the match up with Clemson as many a pundit expects to see an air show between Smith and Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd. Smith has thrown for almost 4,000 yards this season, Boyd for more than 3,600 yards.
*A bit of irony surrounding the two opposing star signal callers is that Boyd committed to play at WVU before opting to sign with Clemson. When Boyd de-committed, WVU stepped up its recruiting of Smith and he signed. We think it's safe to say that both WVU and Clemson are happy with their quarterbacks.