If Ohio State had been postseason eligible, mythical national championship would have been even more of a farce

I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a No. 1-ranked football team look as pedestrian as Notre Dame did Monday night in the BCS national championship, courtesy of Alabama.

It was another indictment on the accuracy of rankings — human, computer and combined — and a system that, if not for Ohio State being ineligible for the postseason, would have kept college football’s perceived best team out of its title game.

This would have been the Buckeyes vs. the Irish. Maybe ‘Bama could have played Texas A&M again or Oregon for the people’s choice championship.

By the time college football’s finale rolls around, I think many football fans are more geeked about the NFL playoffs. College fans care about their team more than the BCS championship — especially after a month-and-a-half layoff, filled with hype that usually far surpasses the game.

Nonetheless, this remains a major sports championship that comes close to getting it wrong every year, even when it gets it right.

Notre Dame never was the No. 1 team in the country. It beat Purdue by three (albeit before the Boilermakers tanked), BYU and Pittsburgh by the same small margin, needing OT to dispose of Pitt — and all three of those unimpressive wins were at home, where Vegas oddsmakers give between 3-4 points. In other words, Notre Dame wasn’t even the best team on those days. Just had home-field advantage.

It was a charmed season for the Irish, who needed an iffy goal-line call to hold-off Stanford, too.

Their most impressive victory, 30-13 at Oklahoma, looks less spectacular after Texas A&M drubbed the Sooners, 41-13, in the Cotton Bowl.

That brings us to the BCS’s next problem. It’s soon-to-arrive four-team playoff, while badly needed, won’t provide a true national champion either (though that it’ll be determined by a selection committee will give it considerably more credibility).

For example, one could make the argument that the best team in college football is Texas A&M, which lost its opener to Florida and in late October to LSU. The Florida loss was Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel’s first start because the Aggies’ scheduled opener against Lousiana Tech was postponed due to a hurricane. In this current system, and maybe even the new one, Texas A&M didn’t deserve a title shot. But the Aggies won on the road against Alabama and beat the tar out of their last six opponents. An eight-team playoff, with a selection committee, likely would’ve included them.

If Ohio State hadn’t been on probation, an eight-team field might have looked like this: Notre Dame, Alabama, Florida, Texas A&M, Stanford, Oregon, Georgia and Kansas State. Without question, college football’s true best team is in their somewhere. And who wouldn’t watch those three rounds? It’s unlikely the title game would wind up this lopsided.

An eight-team playoff, though, kills the top-tier bowls. I’m not sure that’s the right scenario for the sport as a whole. Maybe I’m wrong and we’d all adjust.

But, if a four-team playoff had been in place this year (and if OSU was eligible), it wouldn’t include Oregon or Texas A&M. And, after Alabama, those are probably the next best teams.

So, even when a somewhat more pure BCS begins in 2014, it’ll still finish with a relatively mythical national championship. And college football will remain the only major sport that’s never actually crowned a national champion — just voted on them and named them, sometimes more than one in the same year.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

29 Responses to If Ohio State had been postseason eligible, mythical national championship would have been even more of a farce

  1. avatar Spartan 81 says:

    Operator, well, could you help me place this call? See, the number on Joel Fergusons matchbook is old and faded
    He’s living in A. L. A. With “I don’t know If I let control of the team get away” A coach we said we knew well and sometimes hated
    Isn’t that the way they say it goes? But let’s forget all that And give me the number if you can find it So I can call just to tell them I’m fine and to show
    I’ve overcome the blow, I’ve learned to take it well I only wish MSU Sagarin ratings could just convince myself That it just wasn’t real but that’s not the way it feels

    Operator, oh, could you help me place this call? ’Cause I can’t read the Sagarin number that ESPN just gave me There’s something in my eyes, you know it happens every time I think about the Coach that I thought would save me

    Isn’t that the way they say it goes? But let’s forget all that And give me the number if you can find it So I can call just to tell them I’m fine and to show
    I’ve overcome the blow, I’ve learned to take it well I only wish MSU Sagarin ratings could just convince myself That it just wasn’t real but that’s not the way it feels
    No, no, no, no, that’s not the way it feels

    Operator, well, let’s forget about this call There’s no one down there I really wanted to talk to Thank you for your time Oh, you’ve been so much more than kind You can keep the dime
    But isn’t that the way they say it goes? Well, let’s forget all that And give me the number if you can find it So I can call just to tell them I’m fine and to show
    I’ve overcome the blow, I’ve learned to take it well I only wish MSU Sagarin rating could just convince myself That it just wasn’t real but that’s not the way it feels

    • avatar BarrysHypocrisy says:

      Lame. You didn’t even respond to the column, you just pasted in a couple of paragraphs that you “thought” were clever.

  2. avatar Henry says:

    Actually a ridiculous article. So, where do you draw the line, eight teams? What about the ninth that was left out, shouldn’t there be 16 then? It would only be fair. Nah, make it 32, that would at least include the top 25, after all, on any given day… Well, how about 64? Actually there are 120+ teams in Division I, let’s include them all! Heck why stop with that, aren’t there some D II teams that occasionally beat DI teams?

    This is what happens when sportswriters and fans without lives and enough interests of their own do their best to ruin a good thing. WHO CARES who the “national champion” is? It is never a good measure since the bowl games are always played down South or out West because of the “good weather.” Add to it the time factor (adjustment of three hours, not a trivial matter for a young, athletically fine-tuned body) and you have a recipe in place for alleged domination by the teams that don’t need to travel. I am sure you can do a statistical analysis of this and demonstrate that the teams that don’t travel have a massive advantage.

    I say screw the whole thing, eliminate big time college football, have the NFL form its own minor leageus and require them to pay rent and fees for the MSUs. UMs and other places interested in fielding the minor league teams. It will eliminate the fiction that most of these kids are “scholar-athletes” immediately. Anybody ever listen to some of these guys speak (Gholston, Sims, Bell)? The athletes can be paid, facilities rented from the universities, and perhaps the big deal that has ben made of this sport can be reduced to more human proportions.

    These silly things were nowhere near such a big deal some 30-40 years ago, but commercialization has distoted everything.

    • avatar Spartan 81 says:

      Does this mean, Hollis cant count on your normak 50k donation this year?

    • avatar Graham Couch says:

      You put forth some good points. Our entire college sports minor league system in this country is a fairly warped concept. I think the Rose Bowl matters more than a national title, because you can actually win the Rose Bowl. You can’t actually win a national title, as it stands.

  3. avatar Spartan 81 says:

    Graham would appreciate your input on this question.

    I do not think that a lot of people have read the fine print on this playoff. In year one the Rose Bowl is a semi site. So the BIG Champ goes somewhere else but get this. The system can place the BIG Champ in either the Fiesta or the Chick Filet. That leaves it open for an MSU Cousins team like last year to go 11-2 be ranked # 7 and put in the Chick Fillet Bowl. That is really serious as the Chick Fillet would be an escape hatch to dump any BIG Champ without a household marketing name . The Wisconsin’s and MSU would be in grave peril under that system.


    • avatar Graham Couch says:

      The key for the Big Ten is to not have another season like this one, where it’s best team is on probation and nobody else really belongs in the top 10.

      In 2014, when the Rose Bowl is a semifinal site, if a Big Ten team is among the top 4, it’ll play in the Rose Bowl.

      We’re just going to have to change the way we think of certain bowls. The Chick-fil-A bowl, over time, will feel like a bigger game.

      The more I look at it, I think this season is a terrific example of why an eight-team playoff, with a selection committee, with each major conference getting an automatic bid and then having three at-large spots decided by a selection committee.

      That’s if a national champion matters. I’d be fine going back to having the Big Ten and Pac-10 in the Rose Bowl. We’ve never had a national champion in college football, so why start now?

      • avatar Spartan 81 says:

        From an old guy who has studied this thing, I think everyone thought of an eight team playoff with an automatic BIG Champ bid replacing the Rose Bowl Bid. People would have forgot the Rose Bowl over time. But to be more specific I could see and 11-2 MSU team like the Spartans winning the title game in Indy and being ranked #9 . Than the Fiesta Bowl gets to dump anyone who is not Michigan or Notre Dame brand. If Michigan or Ohio State or Nebraska is # 9 they go to the Fiesta. MSU gets the Chick Filet. Now to the point. You say people will just have to accept the Chick Filet as a major bowl. No they wont . People will just focus on the semis and treat that bowl like the one you were just at. You cant even play golf New Years Eve in Atlanta.
        MSU will sell 3000 tickets. This will be a disaster Graham and a decade or more of fans will be lost at schools like MSU , Wisconsin , and Iowa. Eventually in 15 years or so there will be an 8 team playoff but a whole generation of fans will be lost to apathy at schools who are ranked between 15 and 25.

    • avatar AAsparty says:

      I can predict the future now; an 11-1, 8th. ranked MSU (or Iowa) beating a #1 or #2 ranked 12-0 OSU or Nebraska in the B1G championship game, jumping up to, wait for it, #5, while the Nuts or the Cobs drop to #4 and, miraculously enough, end up playing for all the marbles because of their stupid brand name, it happened in ’11 with the Walves and I don’t doubt it will happen again…

      • avatar AAsparty says:

        and you’re right 81, a Wiscy or an MSU, or an Iowa, a NW etc. are going to have to go 13-0 to get to that thing….

        • avatar Spartan 81 says:

          Agreed, it would have to be 12-1 to be ranked # 4 and we would have been an 11-2 champ last year if we had won in Indy.

          And as to Graham Couch saying Spartan Fans will treat the Chick Filet as a better bowl, no they won’t it’s not in Florida , It’s not in Orlando near Disney for the kids. I guarantee you half the Outback Fans are not in Atlanta.

          It would be like if Gannett told Graham from now on you stay at a hotel 6 and eat happy meals on bowl coverage trips. You will just get to view the hotel 6 as a better hotel. No Graham would not. He would view it as a cheap dive.

        • avatar MAB says:

          Won’t there be a selection committee without ties to the bowl games to try and avoid this for the semifinal games? Plus, right now, if any “brand names” are going to be given the benefit of the doubt in receiving bids for the semi-final, they will be from the SEC and the other teams that get in will be ones that are viewed as having the best chance of beating an SEC team, regardless of name.

          • avatar AAsparty says:

            well, brand shouldn’t matter, but you know it will when they’re faced with a choice between an 12-0 Kansas State and a 11-1 Alabama, LSU, USC, Notre Dame, OSU etc.

  4. avatar MAB says:

    I don’t fully understand the argument about college football not crowning a “true” national champion. I think too many people blindly assume that a playoff is the only way a champion can be determined because that’s the way our other sports do it. I like college football’s premise of trying to determine the top two teams based on the regular season and having them play in the championship. Shouldn’t that be the goal? How often does that happen in the Super Bowl or in the NCAA tourney? But since there was a playoff, we don’t question it, even when 8 out of 10 Super Bowls in the 90s were decided by 10 points or more (and in many cases, a lot more), or when a good but not great UConn team beats 8th seeded Butler in the championship. I’m not saying that college football is perfect or that deserving teams haven’t been shut out of playing for the title, just saying a playoff doesn’t ensure a great championship game either.

    • avatar Graham Couch says:

      The problem then is the regular season. You have to ban eight-home-game seasons, require five true road games and mandate a home and road non-conference game against another major conference foe. In other words, you have to find some equity in the regular season, if the regular season is going to determine the championship. If Ohio State and Notre Dame were playing for the national title, the system would have failed.

    • avatar Spartan 81 says:

      I am not talking about a semifinal , talking about winning the BIG and getting no major former BCS bowl period.
      I have read that after the 2014 season the Rose Bowl is a national semifinal. So any Big Ten Champ that is say 11-2 and not ranked in the top four is excluded. Now most of you think thats ok , MSU would go to the Orange, or Fiesta Bowl. Not so fast my friend. An escape clause exists where the Fiesta can defer the Big Champ to the Chick Filet Bowl . Basically any time the Big Champ is not Mich, Ohio State, Nebraska or Wisconsin due to huge fan draws , the Big Ten Champ if it is MSU, Iowa, Northwestern etc is going to get sent to the Chick Fillet. We would be sent to the Chick Filet for the same reason that Michigan leapfrogged us for the Sugar Bowl in 2011 , money. However the Chick Filet is far worse than the Outback or Cap One, no Florida golf , no Disney for the families. MSU would bring the same 5000 they bring to a Texas or Arizona bowl

      • avatar MAB says:

        UM didn’t “leap frog” us in 2011. We weren’t eligible for a BCS bowl because we weren’t ranked high enough in the BCS based on our 3 losses. If the situation had been reversed and UM had lost its third game in the Big Ten Championship Game, it wouldn’t have gone to a BSC bowl either. And are you suggesting that MSU would only send about 5,000 fans to the Fiesta Bowl too because its in Arizona?

        • avatar AAsparty says:

          correct, we were punished for having played in the B1G Championship game, of course they should have been ranked higher…

        • avatar Spartan 81 says:

          Of course MSU fans would go to the Fiesta, problem is we are not going to get invited there. I was referring to the BWW bowl. Teams that win the Big Ten and are ranked 5 or lower which is common with two losses, usually ranked 8 -12 are going to be snubbed. The two bowls that do not host the semis are going to pick the team with the biggest marketing and fan draw. So the Fiesta would pick the Michigan team over the Cousins team even if we won in Indy. It does not matter winning the Big Ten means nothing if you are ranked 5 or lower. LSU got kicked the Chick Fillet ranked number 7, they would kick any Big Champ not named Ohio St Mich or Nebraska the same way.

  5. avatar Spartan 81 says:

    Before he left Joe Rexrode once posted that “he would rather clip his toenails than read this guy”

    Rob Parker Is Out At ESPN
    John Koblin
    After Rob Parker appeared on a Detroit-based community-affairs show on Sunday and revealed that First Take producers knew exactly what he was going to say when he made his “cornball brother” comments, some speculation ran around Bristol on Monday that his suspension would be permanent.
    And today ESPN confirms that. The statement from ESPN PR:
    Rob Parker’s contract expired at year end. Evaluating our needs and his work, including his recent RGIII comments, we decided not to renew.
    Parker probably knew full well that he wasn’t returning to ESPN by time he went on the Detroit show. When ESPN suspends talent, they usually go very, very quiet. Parker obviously didn’t do that.
    Parker recently had been named host of the Saturday edition of First Take. He wound up getting to host that show only once.

    • avatar dmbtierney says:

      In the 1985 John Candy movie, “Summer Rental”, Rip Torn’s character referred to Richard Crenna’s character as a “squid’s d***”. Having talked to Parker a few times on the old Detroit radio show, “Parker and the Man”, and heard some of his other rants over the years, I truly feel that Torn’s comment could be applied to Mr. Parker. I wouldn’t be surprised if he, Ann Coulter and Alex Jones have a talk show panel on Fox News this year.

  6. avatar 79 Spartan says:

    While I knew when the BCS started that the NCAA would eventually go with the Bowl Playoff system, I agree: the 30 some-odd bowls are meaningless to everyone who isn’t in a “Bowl Pool” or whose team isn’t playing in a bowl, so the playoff is a natural progression.

    I will miss the BIG 10/PAC 10 meetings in the Rose Bowl, just like I miss the BIG 8 going to the Orange Bowl. Ah, nostalgia.

  7. avatar BarrysHypocrisy says:

    Lets face it, the “experts” have been dying for years to be able to rank Notre Dame #1 again. Their undefeated season (and their name) were the only reasons needed.

    If Southeastern Rhode Island Junior College would have played the same schedule with the same results, do you think they would have been ranked #1?

    I doubt it…..

  8. avatar NJ Rob says:

    Until some non-SEC teams can beat these 1 loss SEC teams in a major bowl (or playoffs), I don’t see any room to find fault in a B1G team needing to go undefeated to make it into the Nat’l Championship game.

    Jan 2011 – MSU 7, Bama 49
    Sep 2012 – UM 14, Bama 41
    Jan 2013 – ND 14, Bama 42

    Similar to hoops, at some point, all teams simply need to earn it, and history does matter. I don’t feel any need to create a playoff system like the NFL where a wild card team can get hot and run the table to a title. I also don’t buy the weather argument. Teams have weeks to prepare for these Bowl games. With a selection committee for NCAAF, all teams will need to compete against a solid non-conference schedule. Good enough for me. There’s room for MSU at the table if it goes undefeated, and until it earns the right to be there with a one-loss season, we shouldn’t seek rule changes to accelerate the process…don’t need another ND/Bama playoff game.

  9. Pingback: In Case You Missed It

  10. avatar Jason says:

    For starters, you need to proofread better, because you’re saying that an undefeated Ohio State would NOT make an 8-team playoff and there’s no way you actually meant that.

    Second, what everyone needs to get over is the idea that there is a “best” team or that the BCS/Playoff can get it “right.” You say if Ohio State and Notre Dame had played for the title, then the system would have failed. But that belief only comes from having seen Notre Dame/Alabama. There would have been no legitimate argument that the only two unbeaten teams didn’t “deserve” to play for the title.

    You also say that it would have been wrong for a 4-team playoff to leave out Oregon and Texas A&M, even though neither of those teams even played for their own conference championship. If it’s wrong to leave A&M out, isn’t it also wrong to leave out Georgia and Florida and South Carolina? How can you give Oregon a shot but not Stanford?

    What it all comes down to is what is a playoff for? Is it to put the “hottest” teams–those playing the best at the end of the season–against each other to produce the most exciting games or is it to reward the teams who had the most success throughout the season, regardless of how young their QBs are or which games got moved because of the weather?

    There’s no right answer to that question, and the most fair thing is probably somewhere in between. March Madness works because it is big enough to accommodate both ideas. For football, if the Big Five conferences are separated from the mid-majors (and by 2014, the Big East is a mid-major) then 8 teams is probably enough. If not, then 16 is more likely the right number.

    But we’re getting four and people are still going to get mad about it. We’ll still have some lopsided games when a 2012 Notre Dame or 2006 Ohio State makes the field. But does that really mean the system “got it wrong?” How many bowl games did YOU guess right this year? Sometimes, you just have to let them play and see what happens.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>