I was joking with a Spartans fan the other day that October is usually the month that signals the transition between football and basketball season. In other words, the Spartans are usually far enough out of the Big Ten race by month’s end where basketball season becomes top priority. Such is the case in a school where basketball success has quickly put mediocre football seasons out of memory. With a team at 7-0, inspired by an ailing coach, and with very little road bumps ahead, the Spartans look ready to join football’s elite. However, not even 12-0 could mean a National Championship, and we all have the BCS to thank for that.
In the BCS system, the amount of teams that can potentially win a National Championship has dwindled from the six major conferences to only a handful of teams. The Big East and ACC teams are pretty much eliminated, and there are a select few from the other four conferences. Don’t believe me? Kansas and Iowa in recent years took undefeated teams to the wire, but the “official” BCS rankings had them out of the necessary top two.
The other issue for the Spartans is the same reason why the Big Ten is expanding in the first place – money. The way that increased money is acheived is by having a conference title game and appearing in the BCS Title game. If the Spartans go undefeated, their season will end with a victory at Penn State on November 27, a full two weeks before some national powerhouses will conclude their season with a conference title game. Since human voters still play a large part in the equation, it doesn’t help anybody’s cause to keep a program out of the public eye for some time before the final poll determines bowl games. For the Spartans, they will need more than a magical season to be in the national title picture come January.