The 2004-2005 bowl season has wrapped up after the anti-climactic Orange Bowl in which USC soundly drubbed Oklahoma for the BCS Championship. I refuse to acknowledge that USC won the NCAA national title because they simply didnít do that. In my mind, there are still two undefeated teams (Auburn and Utah) that have as much right to claim the national title as USC does. Until there is only one team standing, there is no undisputed national champion. The current BCS format is like the NCAA basketball tournament working down to the Final Four weekend only to have coaches and sportswriters determine the two best teams of the four remaining should play for the national title. The other two? Sorry, here is your NCAA tote bag loaded with official tournament gear. We will be pairing you off against different teams in meaningless games, but not to worry, you will get tons of cash and we will have your coaches on before the "championship" game so that they can lobby, politic and offer up more "whining" than the entire Napa Valley during grape season.
I can understand the frustration that is felt by the fans of both Auburn and Utah in that a perfect season has been rewarded with nothing more than a bowl win and more disgust with the BCS. If you are Utah, the perfect season not only didnít net you a shot at the national title but also cost you the best coach that your school has ever had. I can truly understand the feeling that fans of these teams have. For you see in 1994, I watched my beloved Nittany Lions get the shaft when the pollsters decided to give the retiring Tom Osborne and Nebraska a farewell gift, the national title. But what happened after Penn State was slighted? Well, Joe Paterno certainly didnít go on national television and lobby like a desperate politician as Auburn's Tommy Tuberville has done. Honestly, Tommy, take your medicine. You arenít getting your shot and we all know that you were a victim of a bad system. You and your Tigers arenít going to be able to line up against the Trojans and play in someone's backyard. And besides, what makes you think that you could beat the Trojans when you only beat 9th ranked Virginia Tech by 3? I concede that on any given day a team can be beaten, but did you watch USC trounce the Sooners?
Now, I donít agree with the current system that is used in Division I football. But there is little that can be done in the moment. Sure it was unfair that neither Auburn or Utah had their shot at the title. California can say they should have been given a chance as well but the sign of a championship team is that they beat teams they should beat no matter where they play. But instead the Cal Bears and their hurt feelings went into the Holiday Bowl, in front of a home crowd, and got smacked by the Red Raiders of Texas Tech. This from a team that only weeks before complained (rightfully so) about getting jobbed in the polls and being bumped from the storied Rose Bowl to the Holiday Bowl. I understand California may have been of a different mindset had they been playing in Pasadena, but that is not an acceptable excuse for the choke job they pulled in the Holiday Bowl. You have to accept that this is the system that we have and until the NCAA pulls their collective heads out of the sand (and other places) we have to live with it. The Associated Press pulling out of the Bowl Championship Series system is certainly a start but the BCS will simply add another poll or another ridiculous criteria and we are back to where we started. The push for a real and substantial change in the BCS/NCAA system needs to come from the university presidents. This is where the rubber meets the road and until they call for change, the fans, players and coaches will be left continuing to argue and dispute the real national champion.
By the way, I personally think USC is the best team in the land. But I still wont crown them as national champion. They won the BCS Championship and that they did on the field, where any championship should be determined.
And Mr. Leinart, the 49ers are waiting for your decision...