New year, new rules: Rule No. 8

Updated: December 15, 2010, 11:01 AM ET
ESPN The Magazine

Rule No. 8: Weed out BCS weaklings

Sure, they had a nice season and won a conference title and all, but the UConn Huskies didn't face a single ranked opponent in 2010, much less beat one. Someone has to say it: They don't belong in a BCS bowl.

The Big East champs are 8-4, the same as Temple, which beat the Huskies by 2 TDs earlier this season. And the Owls aren't even going bowling. This UConn team managed to score only 10 points on Michigan's defense; that may be even more damning than the Temple loss. Now the Huskies head into the Fiesta Bowl as 17-point underdogs. That AQ shouldn't stand for Automatic Qualifier. Absent Quality is more like it.

Call us sticklers, but as long as the BCS is around, its bowls should host only top-notch matchups. And that demands one more tweak to an infinitely tweakable system: If a team fails to finish in the Top 20 of the BCS rankingsUConn was unranked -- it can't play in a BCS bowl. It's odd that we even have to suggest this. After all, what do BCS rankings count for if not to decide who gets to play in BCS bowls?

Any conference champ that doesn't make the grade would be replaced by an at-large team. This season, that could be Michigan State. The Spartans were 111, won a share of the Big Ten title and sported all the credentials of a BCS bowl team. They're going to the Capital One Bowl. Says AD Mark Hollis, "Denying a team that's in the Top 7 for one that's unranked is enough of an issue for discussions." Amen.

Our tweak isn't so radical: Stanford probably owes its Orange Bowl trip to a recent change that guarantees a Top 4 team an at-large bid. And it won't affect many programs, either. Since the BCS rankings went to 25 teams in 2003, only two outside the Top 20 (No. 21 Pitt in 2004 and No. 22 FSU in 2005) have crashed the BCS. Each lost, by the way.

It's common sense -- the best teams get the best games. You know, like playoffs.

NEXT: Put the "C" in BCS