Oregon Quarterback Blasts BCS Rankings


Wednesday, December 5th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


So Joey Harrington, say what you really think of the Bowl Championship Series.

The Oregon quarterback livened up a conference call Tuesday by criticizing the BCS system, which has the Ducks sitting at No. 5 for the third straight week despite four huge upsets over a nine-day span, all involving teams ranked ahead of Oregon.

``I don't understand it,'' he said during the call with fellow Heisman candidates Eric Crouch of Nebraska and Rex Grossman of Florida.

Harrington, also a finalist for the Davey O'Brien Award that goes to the nation's best quarterback, said the Ducks (10-1, 7-1 Pac-10) should have a chance to play for the national title. Instead, Oregon almost certainly will play in the Fiesta Bowl on New Year's Day.

Undefeated Miami is No. 1 in the BCS rankings, followed by Tennessee (10-1), Nebraska (11-1) and Colorado (10-2). If Tennessee beats Louisiana State in the SEC title game on Saturday, the Vols will play Miami in the Rose Bowl for the national title. An LSU victory likely would send Nebraska to Pasadena, even though the Cornhuskers were routed 62-36 by Colorado on Nov. 23.

Oregon fans say their team, whose only loss was to Stanford (No. 9 BCS), should have risen to third following its 17-14 win over Oregon State last weekend. That would have put the Ducks in position to grab the No. 2 spot with a loss by Tennessee.

Harrington might have inadvertently fired the first salvo in a likely Colorado-Oregon Fiesta Bowl matchup by suggesting the Buffs don't belong at No. 4.

``I don't know why Colorado is above us. They have two losses,'' Harrington said. ``All the things that seem important in years past, I guess, are thrown out with the computers.''

The conference call, set up as a prelude to Thursday night's college football awards show on ESPN, started with a bland congeniality as the featured players took turns complimenting each other and their teams.

Then a reporter asked Harrington about Oregon's place in the BCS standings, which had been released the day before.

Asked whether the system works, Harrington replied, ``No.''

``I don't know what the perfect system is, but obviously when you have teams with two losses involved in the mix, it's not a perfect system,'' he said. ``Colorado may be the best team in football at this point, but they weren't all year long. I think there are a lot of people who agree with me. ``

Harrington also played the ``East Coast bias'' card, saying that some writers don't follow Oregon closely because a few of the team's games start at night on the West Coast.

But he also noted that the Ducks could have settled this argument easily if they'd beaten Stanford back on Oct. 20. Instead, they were outscored 21-0 in the fourth quarter and lost 49-42.

``We do that and there's no controversy at all,'' he said. ``We left it up to other people. And with other people, I mean the East Coast, the Midwest and West Coast, all the voters around the country.''

Harrington has said he likes the tradition of the bowls, but said Tuesday there should be a modified playoff system to decide the champion, and Grossman agreed.

``I don't really like the fact that the people are voting on who gets to play in the national championship,'' Grossman said. ``An eight-game playoff system would be the most effective way to keep the regular-season games important.''

Harrington said he was ``shocked and upset'' when he saw Monday's BCS list, but that now his attitude is, ``Let's have fun in Tempe.''

``If Colorado is the best team in the country right now and we have a chance to play them, that's all you can ask for _ the chance to play the best team,'' Harrington said.

The official BCS pairings will be announced on Sunday.