Welcome to another non-AQ mailbag. I am still here, so please keep your questions coming.
Cameron Stevens in Tempe, Ariz., writes: I keep hearing that BYU going independent hurts BYU's chance of going to a BCS game. Explain how BYU's going independent hurts its chance of going to a BCS game as opposed to staying in the Mountain West (assuming MWC remains a non-AQ). Because the way I look at it, it only helps the cause. Realistically, if BYU stayed in the MWC, they would have to go undefeated to earn an at-large bid any ways, so how would being an independent be worse? We honestly would have to go undefeated as an independent as well to earn an at-large bid but we would have a schedule that would carry more clout as an independent (which is the way it is shaping up to be with the deals we are signing with big schools) and would probably end up in a BCS game, right?
Andrea Adelson: The huge disadvantage is this -- if BYU was still in the Mountain West, went undefeated and was the highest ranked of the non-AQs, then the Cougars would get an automatic bid into a BCS game. If the Cougars finish as the highest-ranked non-AQ as an independent, there is no automatic bid. Sure, they would be considered for an at-large spot. But if there is another non-AQ team that finishes ranked in the Top 12, that team would get an auto bid and there are no guarantees BYU would be picked as an at-large. Only once before have two non-AQs played in a BCS game in the same season, so I don't think anything is a sure thing, regardless of schedule strength.
Josh in Salt Lake City writes: What's the reality of BYU getting a BCS bid with one loss? A one-loss BYU would be ranked where? I'd assume around 7-10. A non-AQ with one loss would drop to 12-15 or even further down. Boise State and Nevada last year for example. One loss for a team in a non-AQ conference means no BCS game. Would a BCS selection committee turn down a one-loss BYU that is ranked 7th or 8th in the country who's played 5-7 BCS opponents? If BYU went undefeated, they'd be in the top 5 realistically. A top 5 team wouldn't get the shaft out of a BCS game. It can happen, but it won't, because Americans have at least some sense of morals, in my opinion. Notre Dame can lose twice and they'll get into a BCS game. Why do you think that is? Is it because of their SOS, or BCS committees know that they'll bring tons of money to the table?
Adelson writes: You are assuming a lot for Year 1 as an independent. First of all, BYU is going to start the season in all likelihood unranked. So it is going to have to climb up the polls. If BYU ends the season with one loss, I could see a top-10 ranking, but it would depend on where everyone else finishes. Boise State with one loss last season was ranked right at No. 10 in the final BCS standings -- and was left out of a BCS game. Second of all, the schedule has a few big names, but let us remember Ole Miss, Texas and Oregon State all missed bowl games last season. So BYU needs for all its marquee opponents to have great seasons.
As for your contention about morals, I think we can safely say those have been thrown out the window at various spots across the country. In fact, there are those who would probably argue the BCS is immoral because of the way teams are selected.
On Notre Dame: The Irish only get an auto bid if they finish in the top 8 of the BCS standings. Notre Dame is attractive because of its national brand, so it would be possible for a two-loss Irish team to get in. But the same can be said for SEC or Big Ten teams as well. Arkansas got in as an at-large last season with two losses; Iowa in 2009 with two losses; Ohio State in 2008 with two losses. Is it fair? No. But the teams in the bigger conferences or even Notre Dame are more attractive for BCS games.
Andrew in California writes: I love how everyone brings up geography when talking about TCU moving to the Big East. In the Mountain West, the closest school to TCU was in New Mexico (650 miles away). In the Big East, the closest school to TCU is Louisville (830 miles away). Average distance to all schools in the Mountain West was 1,495 miles. In the Big East, the average distance will only be 1,140. Plus you can easily book nonstop flights from Dallas to every town in the Big East. The travel for TCU has become significantly easier in the Big East and TCU should save hundreds of thousands a year on reduced airfare now that they can fly in and out of major hubs.
Adelson writes: I agree with you. Sure, Dallas is not technically in the East, but Penn State is not in the Midwest, either. I think the geography question has been overblown in this case. This is a win-win for TCU and the Big East.