Tuesday, January 09, 2007

I'm Ready

After watching last night’s BCS “national championship” game, and feeling very little surprise at the outcome, I’m finally ready for a playoff in NCAA Division 1-A college football.

Until now, I have not been in favor of a playoff. If I had my way, we would throw out the BCS and all related formats and return to the pre-Bowl Coalition/Alliance days. Bowls could invite whichever teams they wanted and form any deals that suited their interests with the conferences. I would be satisfied if the Trojans’ annual goal was simply to win the Pac-10 and go pummel some unlucky Big Ten team in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day (that’s all the Trojans have control over now anyway). Of course, that would require acknowledging that the Div. 1 national championship is truly “mythical”, something that the vast majority of college football fans seem unwilling to do. Since the likelihood of this scenario occurring is extremely low, having a playoff is a much better alternative than the ridiculous BCS.

Before bowl season started, I was relatively confident (25 of 32 confidence points, if you're interested) that Ohio State would beat Florida handily. That changed when I watched the Rose Bowl. The beat-down suffered by Michigan at the hands of USC led me to question the strength of the upper echelon of the Big 10, and therefore the superiority of Ohio State, a notion the mainstream media had presented as canon for almost the entire season. Time and again the bowls have demonstrated that a team’s performance in its conference is not predictive of its performance against teams from other conferences in bowl games. The underdog has won four of the last five BCS championship games. Hence my underwhelming surprise at Florida’s victory last night. Only a playoff system guaranteeing match-ups between different conference champions would provide a true national champion.

Limit playoff participants to the six major conference champions plus two at-large teams. Have a committee select the at-large teams and seed all eight teams using a BCS-like formula as a guide or something simpler like the college basketball ratings percentage index (RPI).

I guess you could say this change in attitude was partly provoked by selfishness. After watching how USC played against Michigan and Florida played against Ohio State, I would have loved to see USC take on Florida. The Trojans would have been tough to beat. But who knows; maybe LSU would have taken the title this year. Or Boise State. Obviously, you’d have to say Florida would be the favorites after last night.

I figure if a playoff had been in place for the last five years, the Trojans could have two more national championships. Over the past five years, USC under Pete Carroll has demonstrated a talent for performing very well in big games, especially against teams from other conferences. Aside from this year, USC was playing at the highest level in the country when they beat Iowa in the 2003 Orange Bowl. They would have made a playoff that year as an at-large team.

By the way, no way is the team that got its ass handed to it last night in the desert anywhere close to the second-best team in the country.

Congratulations Gators!

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