It’s the same dream, recurring, haunting my nights. The once-great conglomeration of football conferences has disbanded into a jumbled mess of 7 on 7 drills and tattoo-scandals. Miami is smoldering wreckage, Florida State is a dying program, Oklahoma and Texas lack the mental fortitude necessary to man up, as highlighted by their coaches and quarterbacks, USC is surrounded by investigation and led by a madman, and Nebraska and Michigan have run to hide in the wooded areas of the Midwest. I awake in a cold sweat, only to barely rationalize the omens I have foreseen in waiting for the salvation of a playoff format.
This was the state college football found itself in, and it appeared as if little hope remained. Just two years we needed to have a decent BCS representation, and then hopefully things would become much improved. However in 2012 the faux-semblance of a preseason #1 outside of the Southeast did little to prevent the inevitable. As the season played out, two prominent conferences sent forth their best representatives: A corporate-funded team of cherry-picked recruits, headed by a level-headed coach utilizing a keen sense of Xs and Os in an effort to smother opponents under spread offense variations and defensive playmaking, and a team of 3-star recruits, relying on mental strength, discipline, and headed by a larger-than-life playmaker destined to create chaos in the BCS. Yet flaws were overlooked: a freshman quarterback who found morality against a team that brought the competition down to earth, and a fiery group of Baptists that exposed the physical exhaustion of a round-robin schedule. And so began the voices, so clearly they seeped into my thoughts like lingering poison in an open wound.
Florida has the best shot at playing Alabama, Manziel is at the top of Heisman polls, Stanford will play in the Pac-12 championship, Ohio State ineligible, one-loss champions, seven BCS Championships in a row, USC will upset the Irish.
USC will upset the Irish.
USC will upset the Irish…
Notre Dame and those-faithful-to-College-Football 22, USC 13
I understand that the disinterest in Notre Dame playing for a national championship actually rivals that of back-to-back SEC exclusive title games, but I’m here to explain why a USC upset would be, absent a better term, bad for college football. People would boycott watching the game. This already happened last year, Bama/LSU had the worst ratings of any BCS championship and the on field product justified it, but many people watched because, hey, its college football’s championship game, and maybe they were the right teams to participate. Well, Florida/Bama would have been much worse, and it would have happened. The outrage would not only have been directed at the season itself, but would spill over into looking at every BCS champion of past years and questioning their validity, effectively undermining the integrity of 20 years of college football. I imagined 2012 would be bad for a number of reasons, originally seeing four undefeateds vying for two spots as a troublesome issue, but as of November 24th this had mostly resolved itself, and instead we were one game away from another inter-conference matchup in the nation’s championship game. Don’t believe me? Think 2011 was an anomaly? Pay attention:
Obvious Contentions: The winner of Georgia/Alabama would have (and will have) an automatic bid, and the 2nd spot would go to the BCS #2.
Possible #2’s: Oregon? Absent a Pac-12 championship appearance their shot wasn’t likely, for the same reasons as Notre Dame’s at 11-1, Ohio State was out for obvious reasons, and K-State would have needed an absolute drubbing of Texas to present a chance. Florida State with a statement win and an ACC trophy could have made it in, or could have paved the way for Stanford (with the help of a USC upset). Clemson beating South Carolina would have helped FSU’s bid and would have gotten the Gamecocks out of the way, as well as weakening the SEC’s computer rankings.
The case for the SEC: South Carolina and Florida won, and handily so, meaning the SEC cemented great computer rankings with statement wins over an, unfortunately, weak and overrated ACC. Also helping the cause were top-heavy whippings by LSU, A&M and Alabama, bolstering computer rankings for the top 6 as well as adding to an inherent eye-test bias for the top teams in the SEC.
The case for the non-SEC: Stanford won; ruining Oregon’s shot at leapfrogging Florida with a statement Pac 12 championship performance, and as far as the Cardinal’s chances went, they beat a good-at-best UCLA team who would have not contributed much by losing again in the Pac 12 championship game. Stanford, in fact, maybe would have had the best shot, as USC beating Notre Dame could have given voters reason to see the champion of a very good Pac 12 face off with the SEC counterpart. However, it would have been a crap-shoot, and most likely, Florida could just barely hang on to a #2 spot resulting in (drumroll please):
#1 Alabama/Georgia vs. #2 Florida: for the SEC’s seventh national championship consecutive
So there you have it. While Notre Dame/USC appeared entertaining, a fun end to rivalry Saturday, most people, in fact the vast majority of viewers, weren’t aware that had Notre Dame lost the SEC would again claim both spots in the BCS National Championship Game. So yes, for those who found themselves rooting against the Irish, keep in mind that you were cheering for another SEC parade down Crystal-Football Street.
In waiting for a playoff, catastrophe was averted in 2012. So let’s all, all of us, be thankful for that.
1. Notre Dame
2. Texas A&M
8. Kansas State
9. Ohio State
10. South Carolina