Ouimet was an American of immigrant parents. He had caddied and knew the game well, but the idea that he could compete at the same level as the "gentlemen" was unthinkable. The fact that he had been a caddy demonstrated to most who watched that Ouimet simply wasn't a player to be taken seriously.
When Ouimet sunk his last putt on the second day he found himself in a three-way tie for the lead. A playoff was held the third day and Ouimet held his own. For the two of you who may read this, I won't spoil the end if you haven't seen the movie, but whether he won or not, Ouimet changed Americans' view of the game of golf just by getting to the playoff.
Americans love an underdog. Rudy, Hoosiers, We Are Marshall, Invincible, Rocky, the list goes on. These are all great stories about underdogs who overcame the odds to win big. The stories are loved because people love to see the little guy win. Everyone loves to hear a story of a Cinderella team winning against the odds.
So, why on earth would the NCAA adopt a system that denies us the chance at having more of these stories. Boise State's overtime win against Oklahoma a couple of years ago was amazing. What would have made it more incredible is if they hadn't allowed Oklahoma to climb back into the game in the second half.
This year, we had the Utah Utes dominate a team that was at the top of the national rankings for five straight weeks. No one else sat atop the rankings as long as Alabama did this past year. Yet when they came into a game against a "mid-major" team, the Utes took it to them for four straight quarters. Alabama was the beneficiary of some questionable calls that changed some momentum at the end of the half, which allowed them to get closer to the Utes in score, but the final, 31-17, demonstrates that, even when the calls weren't going their way, the Utes could hold their own against a team that was supposed to be far superior.
Utah, arguably, is the best team in the nation. Rivals.com ranked Utah at number 5, one spot above Alabama, the team the Utes decimated in the Sugar Bowl. USA Today put the Utes at number 4. The AP had the Utes at number 2, right behind Florida. However, the Utes are the only undefeated team in the nation and their performance in the Sugar Bowl shows they can hang with "the best."
Rivals.com's rationale for ranking the Utes so low was that they would not have been undefeated had they played in the Big 12, the SEC, or even the PAC-10. That's nonsensical at best. Unfortunately, we'll never know exactly how good the Utes were this year because, in spite of going 1-0 against the Big 12 and 1-0 against the Pac-10, the Utes won't get a chance to go against those who, by the mere imagination of sports writers and conference officials, are considered "the best."
Utah's team this year, and in 2004, had the opportunity to produce one of the Cinderella stories that Americans love. Had they been given the opportunity to play the other conference champions, chances are they would be number 1 right now.
However, the NCAA has decided that they'd rather maintain the illusion that there are "major" conferences and teams, "mid-major" conferences and teams, and "minor" conferences and teams. Unfortunately, because the BCS plays favorites, this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The BCS caste system is exactly the suffed-shirt mentality that Ouimet's performance was able to break through to bring the game of golf to millions of Americans. Utah's performance this year will hopefully have an effect similar to that of Ouimet's certainly all Americans are aware of college football, but the possibility of a national championship is something that should be introduced to all college football programs regardless of their conference.
Dan Wetzel of Yahoo!Sports has devised a great system that pits all conference champions against each other plus four "at-large" berths. You can read about it here. The only change I would suggest would be that all conference champions should get home-field advantage over any at-large berth team. If two conference champions are pitted against one another, then the higher seed gets to play at home. But a conference champion should get to play at home against a non-conference champion.