After six weeks of college football this much is clear: We hope that the BCS championship game includes the University of Florida Gators. Coach Urban Meyer has created a rotating quarterback offense and is making it work; at least it worked spectacularly last Saturday in the Gators 23-10 victory over the LSU Tigers. The win put Florida in the No. 2 spot in most polls and right now you’d have to expect that No. 1 Ohio State and Florida would be the likely candidates for the BCS championship game at Cardinals Stadium in Glendale, AZ on Jan. 8.
Or maybe not. This week, Florida plays at former No. 2 Auburn, which made the horrendous mistake of losing last weekend to Arkansas. All that did was drop these Tigers 9 spots. So imagine what would happen if Florida should lose.
When you talk about college football you always do it with a sense of dread. The team you lusted after today can destroy your emotions so quickly with a loss or, even more fatally, a star player in the wrong place at the wrong time. Just four seasons ago those Ohio State Buckeyes became the darlings of all by beating the University of Miami in the Fiesta Bowl to win the National championship. This was before the BCS championship game was created by the Div. I conferences (and Notre Dame) and the Fox Network. Life was good and the star player was a freshman named Maurice Clarett. Do you realize that that game on Jan. 3, 2003 was the last he played in college? In fact it was the last he played and now instead of the pro career everyone would have expected for him, he faces 7½ years in jail. No need to recount the spiral of descent that he went through to get where he is today, but you can’t help but wonder if all the rules were observed by the Buckeyes to get themselves and Clarett into that Fiesta Bowl game.
So before falling too deeply in love with the Gators and their QB tandem of senior Chris Leak and the wildly recruited freshman Tim Tebow, we’ll temper the affection. There is no reason to expect anything to change—but still. Then again if Tebow throws a few more jump pass touchdowns, caution may go to the wind.
As for the opponents come Jan. 8, there’s no reason to think it won’t be those Buckeyes back for another kick at the can. With Troy Smith running and throwing and Ted Ginn Jr. catching and running, and with an early-season victory over the defending champ Texas Longhorns already commemorated in helmet decals, the Buckeyes are No. 1 and will stay that way until January. Unless.
Unless Michigan puts an end to all that. The Wolverines are No. 4 at the moment and facing Penn State at State College on Saturday. Any anti-Wolverines will probably have to wait till Iowa for a real challenge to their unbeaten season even though Michigan will be without star receiver Mario Manningham. And if the planets align correctly it will be, as it always once seemed to be, Michigan at Ohio State on Nov. 18 for the Big Ten title and that spot in a national championship game.
And lest we forget the USC Trojans, twice winner of the national title this decade and loser to Texas last January as they went for a third. They’re No. 3 right now but with an incredibly tough table to run—Oregon, Cal, Notre Dame, UCLA. Of course if they do run that table and Ohio State (or Michigan) does and Florida does, the vaunted BCS system will be a vain attempt to make three go into two. It doesn’t and the BCS Championship Game will leave a lot of unanswered questions as a computer program, in effect, decides who will play for the title.
In the ‘old’ days, there was a mythical national championship game that the teams played in and for. In fact the championship could be decided in two separate games and often was. Tell the truth, I kind of liked that. Here are a few sentences from the BCS official website that talk about the current setup and offer a look back:
The Southern California Trojans and the Texas Longhorns met on opposite sides of the football in the 2005 season's national championship game, but they shared one thing. They were playing for the national title because the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) was in place. Without the BCS, USC would have played in the Rose Bowl and Texas would have been in the Fiesta Bowl and the debate about the better team would have raged endlessly.
Yeah, that’s right, the debate would have raged endlessly, just like it might this season. I always thought that the system, or lack of one, was pretty good. There was uncertainty, disputes, debates and it kept on going. If you spend some time reading through the BCS website at how the system began, how it exists now, how the voting and selection is done, you might wish it all never happened. I never wanted every sport to end in uncertainty but it wasn’t so bad to have one that did. Do you disagree?