This was my response to a question from a July 9 mailbag item, a popular question that is still coming up.
Dave from San Diego writes: This question has been brought up in several blogs but it really affects the PAC because of course USC plays them all. Do you know the answer? Will omitting USC from the rankings hurt the USC opponents' "Strength of Schedule" calculations in the computer rankings? How can the "quality" of the opponent be evaluated if they don't have a rank?
Ted Miller: USC's omission from the coaches' poll should not affect Pac-10 teams in the BCS standings. It would only affect USC's position in the BCS standings, if that were relevant.
There is no longer a specific "strength of schedule" component in the BCS standings. Obviously, the computer rankings incorporate a "strength of schedule" rating in their formulas. And we don't always know those exact formulas (some insist it is proprietary information) but based on what they tell us, the national polls don't play a role in their formulas -- record and opponents' record (and the record of opponents' opponents) does.
In other words, if Oregon is fighting among other one-loss teams for a spot in the BCS title game, and one of the Ducks' major achievements is a win over an 11-1 USC team, that win will get full credit in the BCS formula.
Moreover, the AP polls will continue to rank USC (it has always been considered the more significant poll). So that potential ranking of the Trojans will be available for voters in the Harris and coaches' poll to base an evaluation of what competing against the Trojans would mean.
ESPN.com's college football writers had a conference call Monday with BCS executive director Bill Hancock and he concurred: USC's omission from the coaches' poll shouldn't hurt other Pac-10 teams in the BCS standings.
Said Hancock: "I don't believe so. Having said that, it's hard to know how human voters will perceive things. My sense is, at least in the past, when folks have been on probation, it really didn't affect the rankings significantly. I don't believe it will have an effect and it certainly won't have an effect in the computer rankings."
Still, if a conference team is in the national title hunt, it will be interesting to see how things stack up when the BCS standings are first published.