As Pat Haden prepares to broadcast the Fiesta Bowl for Fox Sports, he thinks college football would be better off without the BCS — the way it was when he quarterbacked USC to the 1974 national championship with an 18-17 victory over Ohio State in the Rose Bowl. The Trojans actually won a split national title, earning the coaches' vote in the UPI poll while Oklahoma was picked by the writers and broadcasters in The Associated Press poll. Without the BCS, Haden believes the Sooners would still have a good opportunity at winning the 2007 national title. "Absolutely,” Haden said. "A blowout win over a really good West Virginia team, someone else loses and a close win by LSU or whoever. Under the old system, they really would have a chance. "The way we're set up in the BCS championship game, some of these games have lost some luster. I don't know if the Oklahoma players and fans think, ‘Oh, another Fiesta Bowl.' USC, my alma mater, is going to the Rose Bowl for the third straight year.” Haden, who will be joined by Matt Vasgerian and Terry Donahue in the three-man booth, has dubbed this the "what-if bowl” because of how OU and West Virginia nearly reached the BCS final. "The Fiesta Bowl is a nice BCS game, but what-if West Virginia had beaten Pittsburgh and what-if Sam Bradford hadn't gotten injured (in the loss to Texas Tech),” Haden said. Haden said the Sooners deserve the favorite's role, even before coach Rich Rodriguez bolted to take the Michigan job. "This is a very good Oklahoma team and a young Oklahoma team,” he said. "I think Oklahoma has a chance to be really good next year. I've never seen a bigger offensive line. Phil Loadholt is a very large man.” Besides adjusting to life without Rodriguez, Haden said the Mountaineers must protect the ball better to beat the Sooners. "When they don't turn the ball over, they're really hard to slow down. Their biggest nemesis has been turnovers in the games they've lost.” After covering a dismal, 3-9 Notre Dame team this season for NBC, Haden must be looking forward to covering some good football teams. "I still think they are the brand name in college football,” he said of the Irish. "They were not very good this year. And they didn't improve, which was the most surprising thing to me.” NBC has allowed Haden out of his contract to work the Fiesta Bowl for Fox. He said the two networks have a good relationship, noting Vasgerian covers the Olympics for NBC.
Analyst Pat Haden is not a fan of the BCS system. Courtesy NBC Sports