LOS ANGELES -- Pete Carroll insists he doesn't understand how the BCS system works. He understands enough to know he doesn't like it one bit.
"I think it stinks. I don't think it's the way it should be," Carroll said concerning how college football crowns its champion. "But all we can do is keep talking about it."
And that's what the Southern California coach did Tuesday at his weekly meeting with reporters.
Carroll has expressed his displeasure over the years with the system, but things hit a new high for him over the weekend when the Trojans (7-1, 5-1 Pac-10) dropped from fifth to seventh in the BCS standings after they blanked Washington 56-0 for their third shutout in four games.
"I don't understand how the thing works, I don't really know," he said. "Maybe you guys will answer for it one of these days. Maybe you know and I don't. I'm sure you do.
"What is the criteria of the process? Is it to pick the team that has the best season, that has the season that you like the most and feel best about voting for? Or is it the best team at the end of the year, the team that would win a playoff system if you did have it?" he said.
One reality is pretty simple. USC trails three one-loss teams in the rankings -- Florida, Texas and Oklahoma -- despite averaging over 40 points per game and allowing only 7.1 points. That's because the Pac-10 is clearly weaker than the Big 12 or the Southeastern Conference this season, meaning the Trojans have a weaker schedule than those ranked higher. So they've got to win out and get a lot of help to reach the BCS title game.
The Big 12 has five teams ranked among the top 14 in this week's BCS standings and the SEC has four among the top 16. The Pac-10 has USC at No. 7, California at No. 21 and nobody else in the Top 25.
The Trojans play the Golden Bears (6-2, 4-1) on Saturday night at the Los Angeles Coliseum. Oregon State (5-3, 4-1), which upset USC 27-21 on Sept. 25, is the only Pac-10 team that controls its destiny in the conference race.
Carroll said all of his losses "live in infamy," but clearly, the Oregon State game ranks at or near the top.
"I've got a list of 'em that stay in the back of my mind, how they've affected our time, affected seasons, played a big part in it," he said. "That game's hanging. It's still hanging there. They got a lot out of it. We got hammered by our performance. It is what it is. It happened and it's truth and all that. It's still hanging there, obviously."
Carroll said the Pac-10 has been hurt this year by several injuries to quarterbacks.
"They've all just been hammered," he said. "The quarterback position is such a critical part, particularly in offenses that are so dedicated to throwing the football and moving it around and doing all the dynamic things that we do. I don't know, other conferences, you can look around, conferences that are maybe at the top of their game, check and see what's happening with their quarterbacks, see if that's been a factor. I bet it hasn't."
Asked if a team can properly be judged by the conference it plays in, Carroll replied: "I think you have to do the best you can. Can you properly? I don't know. Who can properly figure this thing out? It's so subjective, I don't know how you figure it out. That's why even presidential candidates want to see playoffs. Everybody wants to see 'em. Then we don't talk like this."
Carroll referred to Democrat Barack Obama's remarks of Monday night, when he said if there was one thing he could change in sports if given the opportunity, it would be for college football to pick a champion with a playoff system. The BCS chooses two teams to play for the title at season's end based on polls and computer rankings.
"I don't know how the computer thing works," Carroll said. "I don't get that part of it. I don't know how the computer knows how good another team is. I don't understand that. I don't know how they can evaluate who you're playing and stuff and all that.
"We should end our season with a championship game and a big party afterward. I don't have that nailed. The reason is you still are going to have to go to some type of an evaluation process to get to the final teams that would be part of the final tournament," he said.
Carroll suggested eight, as many before him have.
"You're still going to have some upset teams," he said. "But I think in taking eight teams, you're most likely not going to leave a team out of there that would win the whole thing. Could be. It could happen. So you're getting closer to it. Just three weeks later you can figure it out. Three games later, you can figure it out."
Carroll is also perplexed regarding who's in charge.
"The really interesting thing is, who is making these decisions? You guys can't even talk to the people that are calling the shots," he said. "You can talk to people that have opinions about it, who say they know somebody that might have a play in it, but we don't even know who this is. It's kind of like the Wizard of Oz -- somebody behind that screen there, but we don't know who it is.
"We're not playing to win the BCS. We're playing to win our conference," he said.
Speaking of Obama, he received Carroll's vote.
"[I] was excited about it, fired up for it," Carroll said.