A Story That Rutgers, Boise State, And The BCS Should Hear

By Tony McClean
Updated: November 14, 2006

NEW HAVEN, Ct. — The latest BCS standings have been released and to no ones surprise, Ohio State and Michigan are sitting at 1-2 respectively heading into their Saturday showdown at Columbus.

However, the computer boys (and girls, so we’re not accused of being sexist) at the BCS have once again left the loyal fans of Rutgers (9-0) and Boise State (10-0) crying in their beer.
While both made a jump from last week’s standings (the Scarlet Knights went from 13th to eighth; Broncos from 14th to 12th), one still gets the feeling that even if they end the season perfect, both schools won’t be invited to the BCS dance this year.
Watching the plight of these two schools reminded me of a similar sort of injustice that occurred in Black College Football not too long ago. It also involved a school that has seen its ups and downs in college football.
Much like Rutgers, Shaw University has a long and rich history of college athletics including football. Also like the Scarlet Knights, the Bears have seen both ends of the gridiron spectrum.
Shaw won its first CIAA football championship way back in 1947. The Bears went 10-0 and were named Black College Football’s national champions for that season.
However, the program would hit a long hard period beginning in the early 60’s and throughout the late 70’s. Following a four-year stretch beginning in 1975 when Shaw went 5-34 (including an 0-11 season), the university decided to drop the sport at the end of the 1978 season.
The sport was brought back in 2002 and within two years, the Bears were not only competitive, they would be champions again. In 2004, Shaw enjoyed a Rutgers-like season as they went 9-2 during the regular season and defeated Fayetteville State in the CIAA title game.
Unfortunately for the Bears and their fans, they too would be dealt a cruel blow by the computer folks. The NCAA Division II Playoff committee left Shaw out of the postseason and awarded the CIAA’s playoff berth to the very team Shaw defeated in the CIAA title game.
Despite the fact that the Bears avenged their loss to Fayetteville State in the championship game, the NCAA inexplicably took away something that Shaw rightly had won on the field.
Does that sound familiar??
There was a somewhat happy ending to that story. While Fayetteville State would go on and lose in the first round of the playoffs to Carson Newman, the Bears were invited to play in the Pioneer Bowl. Shaw would defeat Tuskegee and end their season at 10-2.
Ironically just before the season started, the NCAA had voted to increase Division II playoff field from 16 teams to 24 teams. In fact, the CIAA has seen at least two schools receive a playoff berth in each of the last two seasons since the infamous Shaw snub.
While it doesn’t erase the sting of not reaching postseason for those Shaw players, it seems that the NCAA criteria has become less subjective and more geared towards what happens on the field. Something it seems the BCS is either too stubborn or too stupid to do themselves.
I must admit that I’ve gone back in forth on the issue of playoffs or the BCS to decide the national championship. The one thing that’s constant: every level of college football from Division II, Division III, NAIA, and junior colleges have a playoff except on the Division I-A level.
We all know that, the big time schools (i.e. Notre Dame, USC, Michigan) will always be taken care of. But unfortunately it’s the Rutgers, Boise States, and others that will get the butt end of the stick.
This was just our way of letting the “lesser schools” in Division I-A know that if you think you’re getting screwed, just give a buzz to Shaw University and let them remind you about the one that got away.