The Scarlet letter R could stand for Respect, that is what Rutgers is looking for afterall. After Thursday night the entire basis of this article could likely become a moot point but it is something that is interesting and points out a key flaw in college football. As it stands right now Louisville is ranked #3 in the BCS and they are traveling to New Jersey to play Rutgers who is ranked #13 in the BCS standings. Let's just say for arguments sake that Rutgers goes on and beats Louisville and also beats West Virginia later on to finish the year undefeated. As it stands now it is really unlikely that the Scarlet Knights will jump 12 teams to finish #2 and play in the BCS Championship game.
We (when I say we I am talking about college football fans in general) were ready to anoint West Virgina the #2 spot if they finished undefeated and it looks as if the same can be said for Louisville if they finish the year without a loss. But the question is: Why not Rutgers? Let's take a look at the non-conference games for the three teams. West Virginia has a quality win against Maryland, Louisville has beaten Miami and a bowl bound Kansas State, and Rutgers beat Navy and a bowl bound Ohio. You can make an argument that WVU and Louisville played a tougher non-conference schedule but really not by much and when it comes to conference schedule, they all play the same teams. Jeff Sagarin has WVU's schedule ranked 49th, Louisville's 42nd and Rutgers' ranked 101st. But you would have to believe that Rutgers' SOS will go way up with games coming up against Louisville and West Virginia. So again, why not Rutgers?
We have to trace everything back to everyone's favorite, the preseason polls. In the Coaches Poll, West Virginia was ranked 7th, Louisville 13th, and Rutgers was tied for 45th in the others receiving votes. In the AP Poll, West Virginia was ranked 5th, Louisville 13th, and Rutgers did not receive a single vote. So what it all comes down to is Rutgers is getting screwed because of two things and one leads into the other. One because they lost their bowl game last year to Arizona State. It was a highly contested game last year in Arizona but Rutgers just came up short. West Virginia beat Georgia on National Television on the Sugar Bowl and proved they were a decent team. Louisville lost to Virginia Tech in the Gator Bowl, but played without their star QB Brian Brohm.
The real reason they aren't getting the hype or credit they deserve is because of the preseason polls. Most pollsters look at how the team did last year and it factors in some way in how they ranked the teams in their preseason rankings. Why punish a team for the past? Ask Auburn about it, that is how they got pushed out of playing in the BCS National Title game a few years ago. They started too low in the initial polls. If we aren't going to have a playoff at least get rid of the preseason polls. They end up hurting teams who are a surprise and have a great year out of no where. Is Rutgers a top 5 teams, that I do not know, but if we all were willing to rank Louisville and WVU up there then Rutgers should get the same benefit that those teams got.