- Brad Edwards, ESPN Insider
With the Alabama Crimson Tide edging the Oklahoma State Cowboys by .0086 in the final BCS standings -- the closest margin between the No. 2 and No. 3 teams since the current formula was implemented in 2004 -- this will go down as one of the more memorable finishes in BCS history.
So, naturally, I looked at a couple of formula-related factors to see whether something simple might have swung things in the other direction. If Alabama hadn't managed to hang on to its No. 2 ranking in a second BCS computer (either Sagarin or Wolfe), the Crimson Tide still would've finished ahead of the Cowboys by .0019. And if the 21 voters in the Harris and coaches' polls who ranked OSU either fourth, fifth or sixth on their ballots had all put the Pokes at No. 3 instead, that would have reduced Bama's margin to approximately .004 -- but not erased it.
I even plugged the numbers for both teams into the previous BCS formula that was last used in the 2003 season to see whether that would've had Oklahoma State higher than Bama. That formula had both a schedule strength factor (which I got from Jerry Palm of CollegeBCS.com, who hasn't yet deleted the old SOS calculation from his computer) and a quality win component, but the result was still Alabama by a nose. It might surprise some to know that the quality-win bonus actually favored Bama because both teams have one top-10 win, and the Arkansas Razorbacks are ranked higher than the Kansas State Wildcats.
The one other thought I had that could have made the difference in the final BCS standings for Oklahoma State was the impact of the Nebraska Cornhuskers and Colorado Buffaloes leaving the Big 12 before this season and, therefore, eliminating the conference championship game.
OSU would've played nine games against Big 12 competition either way, but having a 13th game and a second meeting with Nebraska or Kansas State (the Cowboys would then have to win that game, of course) certainly would have been enough to give the Cowboys a No. 2 ranking in every BCS computer.
Although it's important to point out that the 2011 schedule for a 12-team conference would've required Oklahoma State to play road games against Nebraska, the Oklahoma Sooners and Baylor Bears, it's also worth noting that the three teams from the Big 12 North that OSU wouldn't have played are Colorado, the Missouri Tigers and Iowa State Cyclones. Yes, the only reason the Cyclones were on the Pokes' schedule this year was that political unrest within the Big 12 drove Nebraska and Colorado to leave the conference.
But you won't hear Mike Gundy, T. Boone Pickens or anyone else representing Oklahoma State use that as an excuse. In fact, there have been very few gripes coming out of Stillwater, although there are plenty to be made. Mostly, they are the same gripes that have been levied against the BCS system for years.
Here is a look at changes that should -- and in some cases could -- come to the BCS.