For weeks, David Shaw has avoided discussions about the BCS rankings. But as the regular season draws to a close, he finally let out his frustration about a "flawed" system.
"The bottom line is, the BCS is flawed," said Shaw, Stanford's Bradford M. Freeman Director of Football/Head Coach, on Tuesday.
Stanford is ranked No. 6, behind such fellow 10-1 teams as Oklahoma State (No. 4) and Virginia Tech (No. 5). Oklahoma State, which lost to unranked Iowa State, has not played any team in the current BCS Top 10 or AP Top 15. Neither has Virginia Tech, which lost to Clemson (No. 17 BCS, No. 18 AP).
Stanford beat USC (No. 10 AP, ineligible for BCS) and lost to Oregon (No. 10 BCS, No. 9 AP).
"All I've heard all year is the computers don't like Stanford," Shaw said. "The computers haven't programmed themselves. They have a one-loss Pac-12 team behind a one-loss ACC team (Virginia Tech). That means the computer values the ACC more than it values the Pac-12, which I don't think is accurate.
"You look at common opponents, they beat Duke by four, we beat Duke by 30. I keep hearing about quality wins, quality wins, quality wins. First off, who decides who the quality wins are? And secondly, how does a quality loss affect people?
"Oklahoma State is outstanding, a very good football team. We lost to a team in the Top 10, they lost to a team that's not ranked. I don't get it."
"I'm not saying we're where we should be compared to where other people are. I'm just saying that the explanations I get don't make any sense."
Shaw has said all year he would look at the BCS rankings after the season, and continues to try to minimize its importance.
"There's a lot of football yet to be played, and a lot of stuff will shake itself out," Shaw said. "That's all fine and good. As we have all year, we're going to let other people worry about all that stuff."
However, he reasons, for the system to be in place, it needs to work. In his view, it's clearly not.
"I felt it's to a point where I had to say something," he said. "I don't understand it. Most of the people I talked to don't understand it. The people that are explaining it don't completely understand it. The experts have their disagreements. I just wanted to lay that out there. Do with it whatever you want."
Shaw said the team had a good laugh about the BCS rankings at Monday's practice.
"Our team has moved on," he said. "We just play. We get what happens in meetings, we get what happens on the practice field, and we get Saturday. Saturdays belong to the football players and coaches, and that's what's important and that's what we'll concentrate on."
No love for Luck?
The BCS wasn't the only hot topic that Shaw took on. He also dismissed the idea that quarterback Andrew Luck's stock should be slipping in regard to the Heisman Trophy.
"I think it's ridiculous," Shaw said. "I think he's the best college football player in the nation. He proves it every week. We've got a very good football team around him, but there's no doubt that he's driving the ship. I've never seen or heard of a college quarterback that does what Andrew does for us."
Shaw described Stanford's play-calling process as an illustration of why Luck is so special.
"You should see our play sheet," Shaw said. "If we have 75 plays in a game, I would say about 68 of them have at least three options. Very rarely do we call one play and run it. Very rarely do we, on the sidelines, wait for them to show us a look and have him look to the sidelines and wait for a call.
"We give him three or four plays at a time and the guy gets us through that play. There are guys at the next level that aren't doing that.
"At this stage of his college career, I've never seen anybody do this. In all my years in the NFL, evaluating all the top quarterbacks that have all come out, I've never heard of any of them doing what Andrew's doing."
Shaw drew a comparison between Luck and Charles Woodson, the Michigan cornerback who won the Heisman in 1997.
"Charles Woodson didn't win the Heisman on stats," Shaw said. "He won the Heisman on doing something that we hadn't seen anybody do before."
Another example: "The fact that we lead the nation by a long way in negative plays - fewest negative plays - by a longshot," Shaw said. "That's because of Andrew. He doesn't let us run plays into bad looks. We run every single play into the optimum look and that's because of him.
"We've got teams that change defenses and change coverages and try to fool him. They can't fool him. It's because of what he does. To put somebody else ahead of him because of stats is a disservice to the award itself.
"There is nobody, doesn't matter who you talk about, there is nobody as good as this kid."