1) People refer to the Big XII, Big 10, Pac-10, SEC, Big East and ACC as the six "BCS conferences" and all other conferences as "non-BCS conferences". This is misleading because it suggests that the other conferences don't participate in the BCS, which they do. Just ask Utah (twice!)
2) People say that the "BCS Conferences" get automatic bids to the BCS, but the "non-BCS conferences" do not. Untrue again. All schools in eleven conferences and Notre Dame can earn an automatic bid to a BCS game. True, the criteria are different. For six conferences, you just have to win your conference. The other 5 conferences must also win their conference but they also have to meet additional criteria (which are basically being in the top 12 or being top 16 and ranked ahead of a BCS Conference Champion). Again, we aren't talking about the championship game for which the criteria are the same for all schools. We are talking about the 4 beauty pageants that are the BCS's other games. And why should the criteria be the same? Just about every freaking bowl has automatic tie-ins to conferences. The Cotton Bowl pits a Big XII team against an SEC team. The Big 10 is excluded!!!! Tragedy!!!!!!!!! That is how ALL BOWLS HAVE WORKED SINCE THE BEGINNING OF TIME. If I hear another dufus from TCU complain that the system is "unfair", I will punch him in the nose and then suggest that the MWC should try harder to suck less and to negotiate better bowl contracts. Anyway, if you can't make your way into the top freaking 12, you should play your bowl game on a blue field or in Detroit or on December 19.
3) People say that the BCS "excludes 1/2 of Div I-A (FBS) from the national championship process." This is entirely untrue. It pits #1 versus #2. It does not care if Ball State is #1 and Utah is #2. Those teams would play in the BCS NCG if they were #1 or #2. Period. Nobody is excluded. You can complain that the process for determining #1 and #2 is bad, but you can't say that any school is excluded from the process.
I have said it many times before, but I will say it again. The BCS has many faults, and nobody thinks it is perfect. It just bugs me when people - having so many legitimate gripes to make - make their gripes about things which simply are not true.
There are two ways to exclude someone: One, explicitly exclude them by the rules,or two, make the system such that even though they are not explicitly excluded, there is very little chance that they will meet the criteria (i.e. a small conference champ being ranked #1 or #2 in the BCS).
Utah had just about everything going for it this year: they went undefeated, Their conference was as strong as it has ever been (some people have the mountain west ranked higher than the Pac 10), they beat two ranked opponents within their conference (TCU and BYU), and they beat two traditionally good non-conference teams, including one on the road (Michigan and Oregon State). The only bad luck they had was that Michigan ended up so bad this year, which they had no control over. All of this added up to only a #6 BCS ranking. I would argue that there is not much else they can do based on the current system to get into the BCS championship. So while they were not explicitly excluded, they did all they could do under the current system, and it was still not enough to give them a shot at the National Championship. The biggest injustice for them is they finished below USC in the BCS. USC lost to Oregon State who Utah beat. Utah had no losses. Their conferences were arguably equally strong (or weak depending on your point of view). Yet because USC is a traditional power with more exposure and name recognition the human polls ignored the great tradition of Utah football, and pushed USC ahead of Utah in the BCS (the computers had Utah ranked ahead of USC).
I am not pining to see Utah take on Oklahoma or Florida in the national championship. As a fan of Villanova, Hoosiers, and Rudy, I would love to see the little guy get a shot if they have done everything they could to earn it.
OK, but I am talking about their inclusion in the BCS, not in the BCS championship game. They are, of course, in the BCS this year.
As far as getting shut out of the championship game, I'm a Longhorn, so no need to explain to me the suck of it all.
Back to Utah, what also hurt them was two things 1) Michigan sucking so bad. Had Michigan even gone 9-3 or 8-4, Utah would look much better to pollsters. 2) Eking out a win vs TCU. This is the TCU team that OU beat by 500points. If Utah wanted to move up the BCS ladder, they needed "style points". I think style points are stupid, but that is the system. They help you in the Human Polls. Mack Brown should learn this.