Those clamoring for a Division I playoff in college football (and I’m pro-playoff, let’s get this out of the way up top, but I’m not calling for Congressional intervention)
might not have seen one of their darlings in the field this year, depending on how the participants might have been determined would have been delighted to have Boise State take the WAC’s automatic bid on the basis of being the highest-ranked of the three teams that all finished 7-1 in conference play. Thanks to alert reader TA who pointed out that there was actually a three-way tie, not a two-way tie atop the WAC. But, I’ll say this: Nevada is 12-1, and some people make such a big deal about one win sometimes (like when Utah was 13-0 in 2008 and Florida was 13-1 but Utah tried to tell us their 13-0 was more impressive than Florida’s 13-1), you’d wonder why they wouldn’t do the same with Nevada.
Some playoff scenarios insist you have to give all 11 conference champions an automatic bid (and you might have to, just to get the votes to get a playoff implemented).
If that’s true, Boise State may be on the outside looking in, as they wouldn’t have been their conference’s automatic qualifier and may not have received one of the five available at-large bids.
Let’s look at the automatic bids under a system where the 11 conference champions (however each conference determines them) are in the field. And we’ll use the current tiebreaker of BCS ranking, which appears to be what determined the Big Ten and Big East entrants this year.
ACC Champion: Virginia Tech (11-2)
Big 12 Champion: Oklahoma (11-2)
Big East Champion: Connecticut (8-4)
Big Ten Champion: Wisconsin (11-1)
Conference USA Champion: Central Florida (10-3)
Mid-American Champion: Miami (OH) (9-4)
Mountain West Champion: TCU (12-0)
Pac-10 Champion: Oregon (12-0)
SEC Champion: Auburn (13-0)
Sun Belt Champion: Florida International (6-6)
Nevada (12-1) Boise State (11-1)
EDIT: Obviously, the rest of this is based on a faulty premise, so no need to read any farther. Suffice it to say, I suck and I am chastened. Feel free to send a strongly-worded email to your own address.