Instead, it was over before it started. Nick Saban, Alabama and the SEC … win again. In a landslide.
The Fighting Irish were punchless, their vaunted defense rendered a pee-wee side by the heavyweights (and imminent NFL starters) manning the Crimson Tide O-line. Notre Dame’s fate was stamped forever ago, on that elusive day that the South unanimously decided to start playing an echelon of football that is simply a cut above the products offered elsewhere. Once again, America is left clamoring for a more legitimate contender to the SEC champion (a title that might as well be interchangeable with national champion, nowadays). And, had a four- or eight-team playoff preceded last night’s affair, one can imagine things might have ended differently.
Would Oregon or Georgia have put up a better fight against Saban’s boys? No one can say for sure. But it sure is hard to imagine either going down at the hands of the Irish, who failed to run up the score on anyone of note this season and pulled a couple victories out of their collective ass en route to a number-one ranking and a spot in the BCS title game.
Alas, the playoff of which we dream is still a season away. Chances are high that we’ll be just as frustrated with college football’s final game a year from now as we are today. Which means it’s a great time to express displeasure with the BCS — a failed experiment in collegiate athletics if there ever was one.
Here are 10 things I won’t miss about the Bowl(shit) Championship Series. Feel free to add your own in the comments section.
In 2003, one-loss USC topped the AP Poll (and is thus declared AP “National Champion”) despite failing to appear in the BCS title game, in which one-loss LSU beat one-loss Oklahoma. One of the early arguments for the BCS — that it would solve the co-champs conundrum that had plagued earlier methods of bowl selection — falls flat on its face in the process. Pete Carroll waves his arms excitedly to no avail; seeks consolation by running fingers through his pristine old-man flow.
9. Undefeated Teams Getting Stiffed
None can lay claim to more sour grapes than the 2003-2004 version of the Auburn Tigers, who went undefeated in the SEC — yes, the same SEC that has won seven straight titles and counting — but failed to secure a spot in the BCS title game, in which USC dismembered Oklahoma, 55-19, despite the fact that star running-back Reggie Bush handicapped himself with between ten and twelve pounds of bling that he … found somewhere.
8. Title Game Blowouts
I’m not sure if a four-team playoff is the savior we think it will be. In fact, I suspect there will be as much grumbling over which schools receive bids numbers three and four as there currently exists for bids numbers one and two. What I do know is that pollsters will have a harder time preventing the all-SEC title games that the current system effaces (last year’s LSU-Alabama showdown notwithstanding). Hopefully the extra game will ensure that the 2012 Notre Dames of the world have to prove it against another elite program before having their pants pulled down by the varsity squad on national TV.
7. Locking Out the Little Guys
Boise State, TCU and Utah have combined for eight undefeated regular seasons since the inception of the BCS. None has ever contested a BCS title game. This fact can also be expressed using the following letters: B-U-L-L-S-H-I-T.
6. That Stupid Layoff
43: the number of days that elapsed between Notre Dame’s final regular season game in 2012 (on the 24th of November, against a toothless and Barkley-less USC) and the national championship game (on January 7th, 2013). I mean, it’s not like momentum ever meant anything in sports, right?
5. SEC Hegemony?
Yes, this one is wishful thinking. But maybe — just maybe — another conference can pose a threat to SEC dominance with the benefit of an extra bid or two to the big game. At the very least, we can hope that the cream of the non-SEC teams (in this year’s hypothetical case, Oregon) will rise to the top.
4. The Forgotten Cotton Bowl
The Cotton Bowl was cruelly omitted when the BCS chose the Orange, Fiesta, Sugar and Rose as its constituent bowls fifteen years ago. But the new, playoff-tested version of events looks likely to induct six member bowls, with the Cotton a favorite to join the incumbent party of four (along with the Chick-Fil-A). Once upon a time, the Cotton Bowl Classic was the grandaddy of them all, pitting Big XII champ against SEC West champ in an annual battle of inter-conference heavyweights. Texas breathes football like no other state, and fans everywhere should rejoice if this bowl game becomes relevant once again.
3. Watching Pundits Whine About the BCS
Don’t you want all those hours of your life back that you’ve spent listening to Kirk Herbstreit debate the merits of a playoff system while Lee Corso fondles coeds with a four-fingered foam mascot glove in the background? I certainly do.
2. Giving Up Hope When Your Team Loses for the First Time
Every fan hates that annual Saturday when his team records its first loss, presumably exiling themselves from the BCS discussion and sending him into a downward spiral of alcoholism, broken TV remotes and highly questionable booty calls. Now you won’t have to do that until your team loses twice.
1. Not Giving a Shit About College Football in December
You know who I can’t stand (and I suspect I’m not alone here): Alabama and Notre Dame. And considering the results of every other game in December were utterly meaningless to anyone not directly affiliated with bowl-game profits, that left me a pretty jaded college football fan over the season’s final month. Hopefully a playoff can cultivate a team or two each season that neutrals can really get behind. Looking further ahead, maybe that four-team playoff will be such a hit that conference commissioners demand more, and a proper eight-team competition awaits us in the not-so-distant future.