STANFORD, Calif. — All season Stanford coach David Shaw has kept quiet about the Bowl Championship Series rankings and tried to keep the focus on his team’s upcoming opponent.
Shaw came ready to rail at the BCS at his weekly news conference Tuesday. He opened his iPad on the table and began with a 2 1/2-minute opening statement that discussed the system for the first time in his short coaching career.
“The bottom line is the BCS is flawed,” Shaw said. “They themselves know it, which is why they’ve proposed a lot of changes going forward. All I’ve heard all year is the computers don’t like Stanford. The computers haven’t programed themselves.”
Stanford, No. 4 in the AP poll, ranks sixth in the BCS and hosts No. 22 Notre Dame on Saturday night in the regular-season finale. Top-ranked LSU is undefeated and is followed by several one-loss teams, starting with Alabama and Arkansas.
Shaw said No. 5 Virginia Tech doesn’t belong ahead of the Cardinal (10-1, 8-1) because the Pac-12 is stronger than the Atlantic Coast Conference. He also contends No. 4 Oklahoma State doesn’t deserve a higher ranking because it lost 37-31 at unranked Iowa State – which he perceives as a worse defeat – in double overtime.
Stanford lost 53-30 at home to No. 10 Oregon.
“To have a one-loss Pac-12 team behind a one-loss ACC team means that the computer values the ACC more than it values the Pac-12, which I don’t believe is the case. I don’t believe that is accurate,” Shaw said. “You look at common opponents. (Virginia Tech) beat Duke by four. We beat them by 30. I keep hearing about quality wins, quality wins, quality wins. First off, who decides what the quality wins are? And secondly, how does a quality or non-quality loss effect people?”
“Oklahoma State is outstanding,” Shaw added. “They’re a very good football team. Once again, we lost to a team that’s in the top 10. They lost to a team that’s not ranked. I don’t get it. Not saying that where we should be as opposed to where other people are. I’m just saying the explanations that I get don’t make any sense.”
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The BCS has been one of the most debated topics in the nation since its inception. But Shaw had made a commitment to avoid lobbying for his team the way so many others do – including former Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh – so many times.
With the season finale this week, Shaw finally had enough.
The first-year head coach deflected follow-up questions about his remarks. He allowed only that a playoff would be difficult to organize and called any changes he wants to the system “irrelevant” because the structure is already in place this season.
“It doesn’t matter what I’d like to see. That’s not where we are right now,” he said.
The Fighting Irish (8-3) will visit The Farm on Saturday night in what could be Stanford’s last chance to show its worth to a national audience. A win, however, likely will not be enough.
The Cardinal can only reach the Pac-12 title game if Oregon loses at home to rival Oregon State. Even without a Pac-12 title, a chance to play for the BCS championship in New Orleans is still there.
Stanford probably needs Alabama to lose to Auburn and Oklahoma State to drop its home finale against Oklahoma – both very possible – to have a real shot at a BCS title berth. Or if Oregon loses and Stanford can win the Pac-12 championship, the Cardinal could have an argument that a league champion might trump a program that didn’t even win its own division in the SEC West.
The BCS formula consists of three parts each weighed equally: The Coaches’ Poll, Harris Poll and the average of six computer rankings. Stanford is only guaranteed a BCS bowl berth if it finishes in the top four. The top two teams will play for the BCS national title.
While his players continued to stay away from the debate, Shaw said he felt compelled to stick up for his program.
“There’s a lot of football to be played, a lot of things are going to shake themselves out. As we have all year, we’re going to let other people worry about that stuff,” Shaw said. “But I felt it’s to a point where I had to say something ’cause I don’t understand it. Most people I talked to don’t understand it, the people who are explaining it don’t understand it. The experts have their disagreements. So I just wanted to lay that out there.
“Do with it what you want.”