January 6, 2012
An SEC team will win the BCS, but is that good?
By ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency
NEW ORLEANS - Right or wrong, the SEC is sometimes seen as a four-letter word to the rest of the U.S. college football world.
Bad enough that the powerhouse Southeastern Conference has won the past five BCS title games, leaving everyone on campuses north, west and various other directions in the U.S. to pick up the smaller pieces of the endless college bowl season.
Worse, with Alabama and LSU the opponents for this year’s game, to be played here Monday night at the Superdome, six in a row for the SEC is guaranteed.
As a result, there are many inside and outside the convoluted world of college football who believe dropping the ‘C’ from the BCS acronym would be more accurate.
Rare is the season since the BCS was put in place in 1999 that there hasn’t various levels of outcry for the selection process. The root of this year’s argument is that for the first time, two teams that met during the regular season will face each other for the title. LSU won that initial meeting, a 9-6 defensive war in Tuscaloosa, Ala., one of the most-hyped regular-season games in the sport’s history that at the time was being championed for its matchup of clear No. 1 and No. 2.
Two months later, it’s tough to argue against the idea that the Tigers of LSU and the Crimson Tide of ’Bama deserve to be in the same spots.
The Tigers had the easier journey here, both travel and football wise. A 13-0 record — the best in the regular season — made LSU an automatic while the bus trip here from Baton Rouge was an easy one, especially given the prospect of playing the closest thing they could get to a home game.
The Tide, meanwhile, finished with an 11-1 record with the lone loss to their conference mates. At the time of that home defeat, it looked to be an impossible road to get here, until the remaining contenders took turns at self-destructing, that is.
The Tide hasn’t heard the end of their inclusion in the game, which no doubt has become a motivational tool of coach, Nick Saban. There have even been rumblings this week about the possibility of a split national championship should the Crimson Tide win on Monday.
The BCS title automatically goes to the winner, but the other poll is conducted by media members, some of whom seem willing to lash out at the system with their vote. Some have suggested this week that they will back LSU whether they win or not — reasoning that the Tigers won their conference and that ’Bama shouldn’t be here.
It’s all another layer of silliness, really, but until there is some form of playoff, there is an opportunity for irrational thought to prevail.
“This is the most motivated game we have this season, as far as being the championship and a rematch because a lot of people voted us out, didn’t want us in this ball game,” Alabama tailback Trent Richardson said on Thursday. “Monday night we’re going to show them why we (should be) in this game.
“We love being the team that nobody wants to see in the championship. That put a chip on our shoulder and we’re going to show them and prove why we should be in that game.”
In reality, under the current system, the Crimson Tide have no need to justify their inclusion. Losing by a field goal to the No. 1 team in the country is their only blemish and one clearly less unsightly than the other one-loss teams.
If not ’Bama, who else should be in the Big Easy?
Oklahoma State looked to be the logical candidate, the only team standing in Alabama’s way until Nov. 18 when they inexplicably were defeated by Iightweight Iowa State.
Stanford certainly would have made for a great show with the likely No. 1-overall pick in next year’s NFL draft, quarterback Andrew Luck. The Cardinal offence vs. the stifling Tigers defence would have been a tactical matchup to behold. But when Stanford lost by 23 points to Oregon in Week 11, that scenario was as good as dead.
Then there was Boise State, the team nobody really wanted to see in the title game but were very much in the picture after the Alabama loss. But on Nov. 12, the Broncos were stunned 36-35 by TCU, voiding that option.
As for the argument that teams that met in the regular-season should be excluded from the championship well, that too is silly.
“I think if you just look at NFL games, you play all the teams in your division twice,” Saban said. “Nobody seems to think too much about those rematches.
“You always play teams in the playoff that you played in the regular season. And sometimes the teams that play in the Super Bowl have played each other before and all those games play out differently.”
If only it was as simple as just playing the games.