No team from a conference outside the major 6 will get an invite to the National Championship game, nor should they.
I hate the attempt by the NCAA to remove a stigma from some conferences by renaming them. For this, I refer to the 6 conferences that receive an automatic invite to the BCS as the "Major 6", and the other "Div 1" as the "Other Conferences"
As luck would have it, I finished my research a few days late. Honestly - I have no desire to rub salt on BYU's wounds or those of any team from the other conferences.
Just the opposite - since expanding the BCS to include 10 teams, I would like to see 1 spot guaranteed to a team from the other conferences, negating the need for the pollsters to play games to place a team from these conferences in the top 11 with a glass ceiling. From the way they do the rankings, it is obvious the pollsters would prefer this. I believe most fans would like to see this as well.
...but placing a team from the other conferences in the title game is an entirely different story. Based on performance from 2002 to 2007, here's why they shouldn't get an invite this year or any time soon:
They Don't Have the Ponies It can be blamed on finances and facilities, program recognition, tradition, fan base, prestige, and a whole list of other reasons. The result is they can't attract the top tier ahletes.
Perusing the 2002 to 2008 recruiting classes, the highest rated recruiting classes were ranked from 41st to 53rd (scout.com). On a sliding 2 year scale, the highest average is 42nd (Houston from 02 to 03). BYU holds the highest 3 year average ranking of 47th, the best overall average of 51st, and is the only program from outside the major 6 to average every class in the top 70 (ranging from 59th to 42nd), or have 3 consecutive classes in the top 60.
This can provide BYU and a few other programs the players to be competitive against the major 6 conferences, but with over 65% of the teams from the major conferences attracting better recruits, a finish in the top 1/3 would be a special miracle year - their chances of winning a major conference are for all practical purposes zero.
They Haven't Posted the Wins to Earn a Spot Their record against the major conferences is dismal.
In 2007, the combined for 1 bowl win against the major conferences. What's worse is that these were match ups between lower teams from the major 6 against top teams from the other conferences. At times the match ups were as far apart as the next to last team from a major defeating a division champion from the other conferences.
From 2002 to 2007, their record against champions from the major 6 is 3-63.
Against 2nd place teams 2-57, with a combined record of 5-120 against the top 2 teams from the major 6 conferences.
The combined record against the top 2 in the Big East, the top 4 of conferences with divisions, and the top 3 teams in the other conferences is 14-210.
All of these are far below the average records of these teams. All of these are well below the average upset percentage if you make an apples to apples comparison on inter-conference games between the major 6. I will admit I did not recheck my numbers here, but they were so lop sided it didn't matter (if anything, the errors I made resulted in fewer losses against the major 6).
It is 1 thing to pick up an occasional victory over a team from a major conference, even a high profile win in a BCS bowl game. It is quite another to compete every week in these conferences. Actually winning a major conference is out of reach.
Why Would They Care? As it is, any win over a team from the major 6 is a big win to be deservedly celebrated. They still play quality, innovative football - many of the currently employed offensive and defensive innovations can trace their development from the high school level thru these conferences before being adopted by the major 6 and the pros as well as the coaches who developed them. In the end, why should these teams care? So what if they don't play for the title - neither do 63 teams from the major conferences... do they really want to enter that debate?
So there you have it - my case against a team from outside the major 6 playing for the title. If finishing in the top 1/3 of the major 6 conferences is a stretch, and winning is for all practical purposes out of the question, then the pollsters are well justified keeping these teams out of the title game.
As promised to a few, not once did I bother to mention Strength Of Schedule.