I will not be watching this game, because I do not have cable and doubt I will be at a place where I could watch the game. There are two levels of frustration with the implications of this game. I believe Alabama, despite losing to LSU earlier this year, is the better team. I believe that Les Miles is a fraud, and that Nick Saban is not (though he is a jerk). Saban will prepare his kids better and they are hungry. I don’t think that LSU is hungry. The first problem is that no matter who wins this game, I will be sick to my stomach. If LSU wins, Miles will own both a 2nd NC and an undefeated season. Miles is the definition of lucky – making most of the opportunity when provided. If Alabama wins, then Oklahoma State will be in an uproar and this will most likely lead to some form of playoffs. The second level of frustration is that even though I believe that LSU and Alabama are the best two teams this year, it does not seem right that no other conference ever stood a chance to get in this game. Which again will be the precursor to some form of playoffs.
One of the few things that makes college football attractive to me is the lack of playoffs. I like the boasting claims of two teams with similar records never getting to hash it out. Smack talk is the king of college football and the playoffs will quiet down the fans a bit too much. I don’t mind the extension of the season that the playoffs would incur. I don’t even mind getting rid of 75% of the bowl games. I like bowl games feeling special, and most do not feel very special right now. But the playoffs will make college football boring. The upset would occur in the bottom two rungs of the playoffs unless the team was solid. If the team was that solid, it wouldn’t be an upset. The “plus-one” format does not lend itself to be viable. I think you would need to have a minimum of 16 teams to make the playoffs viable. If you did that, then you would have to take whatever the top 16 teams were by whatever system was voted on. The problem is that most of the teams would be from the SEC, Big 12, Pac-12, and Big Ten… despite that any given year, two of those conferences will only have one viable team. This year, based on final BCS rankings, those four conferences would have 13 of the 16 slots. They would have had 14 if USC were eligible for a bowl this year. The other three? Boise State, Virginia Tech (ranked higher than the team that beat them twice), and Clemson.
Also, the playoffs do not solve any problems. Pre-bowl season, was a one loss Houston better or worse than a three loss Clemson? Are they going to pick solely on record or is strength of schedule going to be thrown in as well? This year according to BCS standings, Michigan State, TCU, Houston, West Virginia, and Nebraska would not qualify to a 16 team playoff. If we cut it down to eight teams, Wisconsin would be knocked out. So this year, an 8 team formula would be less messy overall than either a four team or sixteen team. That is another problem. The few years that we have had an undisputed number 1 and number 2 (i.e. USC-Texas), a playoff would take away from what everyone wanted to see. If something flukey happened in the playoffs, the nation wouldn’t cheer for an upset that took away from the two best teams.
My suggestion is too simple to be accepted, but it is just as good as anything else… in my biased opinion. The way to determine the teams to play in the National Championship game. The rest of the bowls can do whatever they want according to conference tie-ins or whatever. This might not represent the two best teams in college football, but it does give a fair way to always determine the National Championship.
1. You must win your conference. (Sorry Alabama, Stanford, Boise State)
2. Best records. Two losses will not let you play over a one-loss team. (Sorry Oregon)
3. Rematches can only happen if there are no other teams with the same amount of losses.
4. Strength of schedule determines the tie-breaker with teams that have same amount of losses and fit previous criteria. (Sorry Louisiana Tech)
a. Strength of Schedule is determined by the combined record of both the record of their opponents and the record of their opponents’ opponents.
b. Playing Division II teams does not give equal weight to playing Division I teams.
Does this seem tilted to Oklahoma State? Yeah, it does. But it also gives us USC vs. LSU when OU slipped into the NC game in 2003. It doesn’t solve outright the USC, OU, Auburn, Utah problem from a few years ago, but if I remember correctly, USC and OU had the strongest strength of schedule because Auburn played two or three teams from Division II and Utah’s opponents were horrible. It also gives Auburn and Utah bragging rights that the playoffs would have stripped them of. One of the most interesting seasons to put to the test is 2000. Oklahoma beat FSU for the NC and was the only team to remain undefeated that year. The big hubbub was that FSU should not have been picked that year… and by my filters, they should not have. It should have been Oklahoma vs. Washington. FSU lost to Miami which gave Miami the heads up. However, Miami lost to Washington who did win their conference. Technically, Washington was in a three-way tie with Oregon State and Oregon, but Oregon lost twice that season and Oregon State lost the head-to-head with Washington.
Using my formula, these would be the National Championship Games in the BCS Era:
1998 – Tennessee vs. Tulane
1999 – Florida State vs. Virginia Tech
2000 – Oklahoma vs. Washington
2001 – Miami vs. Oregon
2002 – Miami vs. Ohio State
2003 – USC vs. LSU
2004 – USC vs. Oklahoma
2005 – USC vs. Texas
2006 – Ohio State vs. Florida
2007 – Ohio State vs. Hawaii
2008 – Boise State vs. Utah
2009 – Alabama vs. Texas
2010 – Auburn vs. Oregon
2011 – LSU vs. Oklahoma State
Out of the 14 BCS championships, my formula leads to 7 having the match-ups. What do you think?