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Best of the Decade: TCU or Utah?

The best of the decade has been running over at ESPN with the latest non-AQ rankings being released for the best program. The top of the list is Boise State which is not really up for debate since they matched Utah as the only other school to have two undefeated season in the BCS era, eight conference titles, zero losing seasons, and eight double digit winning season. It was that second undefeated BCS season that put them over the top.

Now, the second and third choice goes to TCU and then Utah. Hmmm, and some Utah fans are not pleased with Graham Watson or these rankings. On first glance Utah looks to be a clear favorite over TCU with their bowl winning streak, wins over BCS schools, and the two undefeated BCS seasons. Utah could be credited with busting open the door in 2004 proving they can play with the big boys and possibly opening up the chance for non-BCS teams to play for the BCS title with their dominate win over Alabama.

This really is pretty close in who had the better decade. Just check out this comment from a similar article from BlockU by Ute in DC:

During the 2000’s TCU’s record was 95–26 (.766); Utah’s was 86–30 (.741).

TCU won 4 conference championships—2 co-conference championships (2000 WAC, 2002 C-USA) and 2 outright conference championships (2005 & 2009 MWC); Utah had 3 outright conference championships (2003, 2004, & 2008).

TCU had one losing season (2004); Utah had two (2000 & 2002).

TCU had seven 10+ win seasons (2000, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2008, & 2009); Utah had four (2003, 2004, 2008, & 2009).

So do two undefeated seasons with BCS bowl wins trump these other considerations? Arguably yes, but it’s not objectively clear that Utah had a better decade than TCU.

The ten win seasons is a huge plus, but in my opinion Utah bust open the door for the non-BCS to get credit which is often forgotten, and because this video makes a lot of sense when I posted this back in October, so I will post this again. It is Rick Gervais trying to get his Emmy back from Steve Carrol:

The two BCS wins should trump what TCU has done especially since they were undefeated seasons which are hard to come by and the Utes did that twice.

Here is the quote from Graham Watson on her reasoning for TCU:

The Horned Frogs have had just one losing season this decade and seven seasons of 10 or more wins. They were undefeated this regular season and played in their first BCS bowl. They’ve won four conference titles and have been the nation’s top defense four seasons this decade.

Here is here response for Utah:

The Utes are one of only two non-AQ teams to post two undefeated seasons and play in two BCS bowls. They’ve had just two losing seasons this decade and haven’t had one since 2003. Since 2003, the Utes have had double-digit wins four times.

For good measure her colleague Ivan Maisel put TCU at ten in the nation's top 10 of the decade over Utah. One would think Utah would get some credit for being the first of the little guys to make a splash on the BCS stage.