The Tigers' secret weapon was somebody named Ricky Jean-Francois. If you never heard of him before Monday, you're not alone. The title game defensive MVP was suspended for the first 12 games for an off-the-field issue, presumably related to academics, before finally getting on the field in the Southeastern Conference title game last month. Nothing like getting a key player back just when needed, eh?
As for Ohio State, who isn't getting tired of the Buckeyes' act? Ohio State's nonconference opponents were Youngstown State, Akron, Washington and Kent State. A deflated Big Ten allowed the Buckeyes to finish the regular season 11-1, with the only loss coming to Illinois, which somehow was chosen for the Rose Bowl. The Fighting Illini then went to Pasadena and got drilled by USC, 49-17.
So the debate continues. Would USC have been a better opponent for LSU? Possibly, but when you're a 41-point favorite and lose to Stanford, that ends the discussion.
How about Georgia? The Bulldogs lost at home to South Carolina and were demolished at Tennessee. That ends that. West Virginia? It appeared that no team could match the Mountaineers' speed, then Pittsburgh marched into Morgantown and proved otherwise.
So the mess that was left was LSU and Ohio State. Notre Dame, in a stinker of a season, had a longer winning streak than the Tigers and Buckeyes to end the regular season.
The BCS served up five garbage games. The Rose Bowl was decided by 32 points, the Sugar by 31, the Fiesta by 20, the BCS title game by 14 and the Orange by three.
Not surprisingly, the TV ratings are down. Yes, college football has a problem.
If you think playoff, get real. That's not going to happen. Read this piece by Pete Thamel in the New York Times if you think differently, then check back. The closest thing we're going to get to a playoff would be a Plus One model, which would essentially have the top two ranked teams play after the five BCS games.
Certainly there needs to be a system to weed out teams that don't deserve to be in the big-time games long before the selection process begins. That brings us to the Wiz's humble proposal on how to fix the system.
It's this simple: BCS teams need to play BCS teams in nonconference games. A meaty value system needs to be put into the BCS formula to award teams that do so and docks teams that schedule non-BCS teams. As for everybody running to schedule Duke, the Blue Devils can only play four nonleague games a year, so a lot of teams will be out of luck and have to look elsewhere.
As it stands, the art of nonconference scheduling comes down to this: Go 4-0 in nonconference, squeeze out a 3-5 league record and go to a bowl. If you're really lucky and things break your way, you could find yourself in a BCS game or — in Ohio State's case — the title game.
Ohio State's nonconference schedule included a I-AA team, two in-state softies and one BCS opponent. The BCS should have docked the Buckeyes for this, but instead the system rewarded such scheduling with a berth in the title game. Wrong, wrong, wrong.
Ohio State is not alone. Copycat crimes are everywhere. SEC teams, for example, simply don't travel. As detailed earlier by Map Game Day, Georgia has logged 358 miles to nonconference destinations since 1998. Florida last played a nonconference game outside the Sunshine State in 1991 when it lost at Syracuse. Of teams traveling the fewest number of miles for nonconference games since 1998, SEC teams had seven of the top 10 spots. Teams are abusing the system and you, the fan, are being taken for a ride.
Consider that ticket prices continue to skyrocket to help pay for — among other things — outrageous salaries demanded by coaches. If you want good seats, give even more of your money to the alumni association. In return you get nonconference games against teams that don't deserve to be on the same field as your beloved U.
Coaches, universities and bowl administrators are laughing all the way to the bank on your dime and they don't want to see any of this changed. Consider:
- Going 7-5 and earning a berth to a crummy bowl represents job security for an overpaid coach.
- Ohio State and Florida ran up more than $5 million in expenses at last seasons BCS title game, finishing with a combined deficit of more than $600,000. No worry, just pass it along to the fans the next season.
- Compensation packages for some bowl executives have reached $490,000.