Monday, December 3, 2007

A Final Topsy-Turvy Ending

Winston Churchill famously noted that democracy was the worst form of government, except for all others that have been tried from time-to-time.

The BCS may put that dictum to rest. After a topsy-turvy regular season, the bowl pairings were announced this afternoon, with the headliner -- Ohio State playing LSU in the Sugar Bowl -- surprising no one but leaving fans (except for those of OSU, and of LSU) feeling less than excited. (The Tigers have already been installed as 5-point favorites, and OSU apparently has never beaten an SEC team in a bowl game; last year, OSU was embarrassed by a more athletic Florida, 41-14.)

Ohio State's greatest attribute was its schedule: their out-of-conference schedule was lighter than a bowl of Cool Whip, including Youngstown State, Kent State, Washington, and Akron. The Buckeyes also benefited from the Big Ten -- the conference itself is not particularly strong, and without a conference championship game, the Buckeyes did not have to risk a season-ending loss after Thanksgiving.

(LSU's schedule includes the SEC and the SEC Championship Game -- no complaints about 'strength-of-schedule' at all.)

Virginia Tech Coach Frank Beamer should learn something from OSU's Jim Tressel. Had the Hokies substitutued a "manageable" MAC or Sun Belt team for LSU (on Saturday night in Baton Rouge, no less) on Week #2, they may have had the opportunity (even with a home loss to BC) to play for the BCS title. Contrast Tech's schedule with that of ACC rival Boston College (who lost to Tech in the ACC title game): BC played Army, UMass (I-AA), Bowling Green, and Notre Dame out of conference.

What also is lost are the bowl matchups that might have been. Under the old system, OSU would have played a white-hot USC in the Rose Bowl, and the winner of that game would have had a legitimate claim for a mythical (pre-BCS) national championship. Another erstwhile matchup might have been VA Tech/OU in the Orange Bowl, and West Virginia/Georgia in a Fiesta Bowl.

1 comment:

Terry Klein said...

I'm with you up until the OSU/conference championship point. The OSU/Michigan game was, for all intents and purposes, a conference championship game. And OSU legitimately tattooed my lowly (and ever more so) Wolverines. So don't hold the lack of a conference championship game against the Big Ten. After all, because of the ludicrous division systems in the SEC and the Big 12, conference championship games are, in my opinion, slightly less likely to match up the two best teams in a conference than traditional rivalry scheduling.

For the record: I'd mandate an 11 game "regular season" and then have an eight team playoff that started the second weekend in December.