September 16, 2014

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Andrew Bagnato: Quit whining, BCS got it right this season

College football playoff supporters need to find a new cause.
The BCS worked this time. Deal with it.
At the end of the looniest autumn in memory, the computers whirred and wheezed and spit out an entirely reasonable pairing for the Bowl Championship Series title game: No. 1 Ohio State vs.
No. 2 LSU.
As BCS controversies go, there was barely any smoke, let alone fire.
This wasn`t 2003, when Oklahoma lost the Big 12 playoff by 28 points and was admitted to the BCS championship game over Southern California, ranked first in both human polls.
It wasn`t 2001, when Nebraska lost its last game by 26 points, failed to win its Big 12 division and still got a shot at the BCS title over Oregon, the second-ranked Pac-10 champion.
It wasn`t 2000, when Miami beat Florida State and finished ahead of the Seminoles in the polls, only to watch FSU go to the BCS title game.
Those were travesties.
This goofy season produced a sock drawer full of national title contenders. The Buckeyes and Tigers had the fewest holes in the toes.
Playoff scolds pulled themselves away from Sunday`s NFL action long enough to lecture us on the injustice of it all.
Well, let`s take a closer look at those who were snubbed, and what they might have done to earn a championship berth.
USC? Stop Stanford on fourth-and-20, or fourth-and-10. In the Coliseum, no less.
Georgia? Win your division, Dawgs. You finished behind a team coached by Phil Fulmer.
Virginia Tech? If you`re going to lose by 41 points, don`t do it against a team (LSU) that will be competing with you for a BCS title slot.
Kansas? Play someone your own size. Oh, you did: Missouri.
Oklahoma? Next time you take a 24-7 lead in Boulder, don`t get on the bus until after the fourth quarter.
Even Hawaii, which played a schedule ranked 117th of 119 by the NCAA, has its proponents. “We`re the only 12-0 team in Division I-A, so how can we not be in the national championship game?” said former Hawaii defensive end Ikaika Alama-Francis, now with the Detroit Lions. “I don`t want to hear people blame our schedule, either.”
Remember that the Trojans, Bulldogs, Hokies, Jayhawks, Sooners and Warriors all drew berths in elite bowls. No one`s making them spend the holidays in El Paso.
The real problem with this year`s BCS can be found in the mostly ho-hum matchups it produced in the other four games.
As for the title game, what`s the beef?
It`s not as if we`re staring at Arizona State-Boston College, a possibility six weeks ago.
Some may wonder if Ohio State is a puffed-up Big Ten pastry waiting to be devoured by a faster, more skilled Southeastern Conference squad. Where have we seen that before? But let`s see how it plays out.
Aside from Ohio State-LSU, the BCS gave us only one other compelling game, Hawaii against Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. And that`s because it has the potential to make life miserable for the mighty SEC.
It`s impossible to overstate the importance of this game for the SEC. The league would never be able to live down a loss to Hawaii, particularly on SEC turf.
If you don`t think Colt Brennan and the Warriors have a chance, think about Boise State. Funny things can happen when you give David a month to load up his slingshot.
The point is, anyone who cares about college football will be watching the Sugar on Jan. 1.
The other BCS bowls? Maybe not so much.
Does anyone really need to see USC wipe its cleats on Illinois in the Rose Bowl?
West Virginia-Oklahoma sounds more like a Greyhound bus itinerary than a Fiesta Bowl.
Virginia Tech and Kansas are in the Orange Bowl, but they ought to be playing on a Thursday night in September.
If there`s any fallout from this year`s BCS selection process, it won`t be a playoff. But it could produce more support among conference commissioners for the so-called “plus one” model, which would create an additional game after the BCS bowls.
BCS coordinator Mike Slive, commissioner of the SEC, would like to see the concept be given full consideration, and that is likely to happen when the Football Bowl Subdivision commissioners meet next spring.
“Whether or not this year is good or bad for a so-called ‘plus one,` I am still interested in exploring it in great detail,” Slive said on a media conference call Sunday night.
Suppose there had been a “plus one” scheme this year. And suppose LSU, USC and Georgia all win their bowl games. You still can`t squeeze three teams into one game.
Some years, the “plus one” could bring perfect clarity. Other years, it may simply re-ignite the same arguments one month later.
So what`s the best thing to do about the BCS?
Accept that it`s flawed, and understand that it`s not permanent.
In that way, the BCS is no different from most of the other schemes used to create a national champion in a sport ruled by regional interests.
This much is certain: All the kvetching about the BCS can`t diminish a fabulous season.
Think about it. The year began with Appalachian State walking into Ann Arbor and beating Michigan. It ended late on a December night, on an island in the Pacific Ocean, with Hawaii intercepting a last-gasp pass in the end zone to clinch a BCS berth. In between, Notre Dame lost to Navy and eight other teams.
Wonders never cease in college football. Unfortunately, neither does the whining.
AP sportswriter Larry Lage in Detroit contributed to this report.