NCAA Middle Class

The 2010 BCS bowls feature mostly middle of the pack programs.

The 2010 BCS bowls feature mostly middle of the pack programs.

There won’t be any extended tax cuts given to this middle class. Not with how they performed on the field this season.

As scholarship limitations continue to tighten rosters and the distribution of wealth in the college football world increases, parity is slowly working its way into college football. And I, for one, think it is a pleasure to look at this year’s BCS bowl games and see the rise of college football’s middle class.

Other than Ohio State and Oklahoma, eight of the 10 BCS bowl teams are true definers of the middle of the pack in college football. In fact, no teams in the nation have appeared in more BCS bowl games than Ohio State (9) and Oklahoma (8). They also claim a combined 12 Heisman Trophies and 30 national championships. The Bucks and Sooners are true definers of college football’s upper class.

The other eight are a totally different story.

TCU, Stanford, Oregon, Virginia Tech, Wisconsin, UConn, Arkansas and Auburn have a combined zero BCS national titles with one total title game appearance since the BCS started (Virginia Tech, 1999).

TCU is trying for its first BCS bowl win in school history in only its second BCS berth. Historically, they claim the 1935 Williamson System National Champion and the 1938 AP, Williamson System, Helms Athletic Foundation and National Championship Foundation national titles. The will become an AQ team soon enough, but they are still technically a mid-major program.

Wisconsin claims the 1942 Helms Athletic Foundation national title. This will be its third BCS bowl bid (all Roses), and the Badgers have never finished higher than fourth in BCS standings. And really, their program really didn’t even start until the last 20 years when Barry Alvarez began his historic rebuilding of a Big Ten doormat.

Stanford claims the 1926 Helms Athletic Foundation, National Championship Foundation, Sagarin Ratings and the Dickinson System national title and the Billingsly Report, Helms Athletic Foundation and Poling System title in 1940.

This will be Arkansas' first BCS bowl berth in school history. The Hogs claim the 1964 Helms Athletic Foundation, Football Writer’s Association of America, College Football Researches Association, National Championship Foundation, Billingsley Report, Poling System and Sagarin Ratings national title. They also claim the 1977 Rothman national title.

UConn, which also makes its first BCS appearance, Oregon and Virginia Tech have no official national championships, and Auburn claims two, 1913 (Billingsly Report) and 1957 (AP).

What do all these HAF, FWAA, BR, PS, NCF, CFRA, WS, obscure acronym championships mean? That, in all honesty, the eight other BCS bowl teams have a total of two legit national titles (TCU’s 1938 AP and Auburn’s 1957 AP) in their entire existence.

The eight other BCS teams claim a total of six Heisman Trophies (Wisconsin 2, Auburn 2, Stanford 1, TCU 1) with no winner ever playing at Oregon, Arkansas, Virginia Tech or UConn. Of course, that should change with Auburn’s Cameron Newton (or even Stanford’s Andrew Luck or Oregon’s LaMichael James).

In terms of total BCS bowl berths, there has been slightly more success as this middle class continues to grow. Teams like Boise State, Kansas, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Wake Forest, Iowa, Illinois, Hawaii, Utah, West Virginia have all competed on the BCS stage of late. Wisconsin enters its third BCS bid with of 2-0 record. Virginia Tech will be playing in its fifth BCS game with a 1-3 record. Oregon is also playing in its third BCS tilt with a 1-1 mark. This is only Auburn’s second appearance after they won the 2005 Sugar Bowl and finished unbeaten. Stanford lost to Wisconsin in the 2000 Rose Bowl (1999 season) in its only BCS showing.

If you need any more confirmation that this was the year of the middle class, just look at perceived talent level. The combined team recruiting rankings for the ten BCS teams over the last four years averages out to 32nd in the nation. Arkansas (28.3), Virginia Tech (30.8), Stanford (31.3), Wisconsin (35.3), UConn (67) and TCU (76) are outside of the top 25 virtually ever season (with a few exceptions). Oregon has recently begun to establish itself as a new recruiting power, and its 17.8 average class ranking seems to be getting better every year. The same can be said about Auburn and its recent rise up the recruiting charts (we will leave the Scam Newton comments out of this equation). Ohio State and Oklahoma are the only two BCS teams this year that recruit nationally rated players and finish in the top ten nearly every year.

I, personally, think it is wonderful for college football to see more of the middle class excelling at an elite level, winning conference titles and playing in marquee bowl games. Other programs who have yet to appear in a BCS bowl games seem to be getting closer: Middle-classers like Michigan State (who got jobbed in their placement this year), Missouri, Oklahoma State, Clemson, Boston College, South Carolina and South Florida.

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