English: BCS stirs emotions, gets job done

Published 6:09 pm Wednesday, December 7, 2011

By: Jim English

‘Tis the season for the ifs and buts.

Once the final BCS rankings are announced and it’s decided once and for all who will play for the national championship, the ifs and buts seem to come out of the woodwork. And maybe I’m wrong, but it sure seems like this year, the speculation has gotten more mileage than ever before.

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“IF Alabama had made just one of those field goals….”

“IF Oklahoma State had not lost to an unranked team…..”

“IF the officials had not ruled that an interception…..”

“Most people agree that Alabama and LSU are the best teams,

…..BUT we don’t want a rematch.”

“….BUT Alabama had their chance and blew it.”

“….BUT if a team doesn’t win their conference, they shouldn’t play for the national title.”

The thing is, I have even made some of those same arguments in past years. Numerous times I have watched as some disappointed one-loss team is passed over in favor of another one-loss team, and I have smugly replied, “Well, you shouldn’t have lost that one game.”

I remember when we learned in 1996 that Florida State would face arch-rival Florida in the Sugar Bowl for the national championship, after already beating them in their final regular-season game. We all thought that it would be boring to see them play each other again, and maybe even a little unfair to Florida State to have to beat them twice.

And when Nebraska was given one of the spots in the BCS Championship despite not winning their conference, I was adamant that no team should have a chance to be national champion if they weren’t even good enough to be conference champions.

This season served to illustrate the danger of making absolute statements, especially in regard to the world of college football.

As we all know by now, there is absolutely no controversy surrounding LSU’s claim to the championship game: Undefeated season, champion of the nation’s toughest conference, second-best defense in the country, wins over No. 2 Alabama, then third-ranked Arkansas, and a Georgia team on a ten-game win streak was more than enough to stake their claim.

But figuring out who should play them has caused a lot of people to re-think their positions and eat a lot of words.

Time and time again, we have heard the self-appointed experts say “Well, I do believe that LSU and Alabama are the two best teams in the country, BUT…..”

But there should be no “but” about it. The BCS system, though admittedly not perfect, was formed with one goal in mind: to ensure that the two best teams in the country play each other in one final game to decide which one is the best. Not the champions of the two best conferences. Not two good teams who had not already played each other……… the two BEST teams.

So if it’s the unanimous agreement that LSU is the best team in the country, then there really should be no debate that Alabama is No. 2. The Tide was actually favored in their previous meeting. They outgained LSU in total yardage. They got into scoring range six times. They had a potential 1st and 10 at the LSU 3-yard-line taken away by a questionable interception ruling. They were tied at the end of regulation, and lost in overtime because LSU’s kicker was one field goal better.

That’s as close to a tie as two teams can get nowadays.

And besides all that, if rematches for championships are such bad things, why did everybody think that interleague play in Major League Baseball was a good idea? And I don’t remember anybody saying before the Ali-Frazier rematch that he “had his chance already and blew it”. I seem to recall that boxing rematch to be one of the all-time classics, and I have no doubt that the LSU-Alabama rematch will be a far more entertaining than their first meeting.