Monday, December 05, 2011
In some years, there are three teams with a legit claim to the national title game (think the 13-0 2004 Auburn team that got shut out). In those years, a "plus 1" feels like a great solution. Let the best sort it out at the top, and let all the mediocre teams have their little, meaningless bowls. But then there are years like this one, when there's an argument among flawed teams for even the number 2 slot in the country.
One of my dingbat SEC friends said, matter-of-factly, that "LSU and Alabama are the two best teams in the country." Of course, we also hear all the time about how the reason college football doesn't need a playoff is because "the whole season is a playoff" and blah blah blah. I guess that only applies for everybody outside of the SEC. What a complete sham. Alabama had their chance, just like Houston "had their chance" and Boise "had their chance." They've all lost once. Oh, but since Alabama lost to LSU, they.....get another chance? Gee, I wonder if Boise would love another shot at TCU, who they lost two by one point, or if Houston would love another crack at Southern Miss. But I digress.
In college basketball, some years there are a handful of absolutely dominant teams and then the "rest," right? In those years, you wind up seeing everyone pick the same Final Four, or something very close. Lots of 1 and 2 seeds making it. But then there are those years -- like 2011 -- when there is maybe one or two dominant teams (or no dominant teams) and nobody has any idea who will win the championship. And aren't those the most exciting tournaments to watch? This year could be that in college football.
Sure, we know that LSU is #1 and they absolutely deserve it. For all the bashing we do on the SEC mouth-breathers, let's make no mistake here: LSU has earned every bit of the respect they have. But after that? There can definitely be arguments made, as I quickly did above, that a number of teams should get a look. There is no 100%, clear cut, #2 or #3 team. Everybody could make a claim and so just imagine an 8-team playoff or even a 16-team playoff. Here's what the top 8 in the BCS would include:
LSU, Alabama, Oklahoma State, Stanford, Oregon, Arkansas, Boise State, Kansas State.
And if we added the next 8, too?
South Carolina, Wisconsin, Va Tech, Baylor, Michigan, Oklahoma, Clemson, Georgia.
Look at that mix. You've got teams that get a "shot" that didn't have a chance previously. You've got the chance to see what Boise State could do against these big shots (if their previous BCS appearances haven't been enough). You've got teams in (like Michigan) who are hitting their stride and have been better and better as the season has worn on. And you've got the requisite number of SEC teams in there, with their chance to prove how dominant they all are, ya'll.
I'm not going to go into all the reasons (money) and points (money) about why the bowl system (money) still exists, but it's got a lot to do with money. And only for the bowl operators themselves. Even Oregon and Auburn lost money (well into the six figures) in the national title game last year. How ridiculous is that?
My point here is that this bowl season is completely boring, and that's because there aren't engaging storylines. We aren't even getting to see a great national title matchup -- we're seeing a rematch of a game that anyone with two eyes and a rudimentary knowledge of football knows sucked. And then we have the rest, none of which matters at all.