Lou Pickney's Online Commentary
SEC Gridiron Weekend
November 10, 2005
Today at work, Brent Hatley and I were discussing how this weekend of college football was going to be dominated by SEC matchups. With LSU/Alabama and Georgia/Auburn taking the two big nationwide spots on CBS and ESPN, respectively, Steve Spurrier's first game against the Florida Gators since joining South Carolina has been relegated to the JP Game of the Week. You mean that CBS couldn't squeeze that one into an early game double-header? The rest of the schedule, save for Northwestern/Ohio St. and Iowa/Wisconsin, lacks much interest for me. No, to be sure, this is a showcase weekend for the Southeastern Conference.
Division I college football needs a playoff system. I don't think that any rational, sane person can argue with that. At this point, I don't even consider the national championship to be a valid thing. Not when a team like Auburn 2004 can go unbeaten, winning the SEC Championship, and not have an opportunity to play for the national title. If that's a "time honored tradition," then college football is no better than crooked pro wrestling promoters from days gone by (since I can't think of that phrase without thinking of the WWF Bret Hart/Vince McMahon saga from October/November 1997 and how McMahon used that phrase about Hart dropping the WWF Title to Shawn Michaels.)
But two axioms hold true: 1. Money makes the world go 'round and 2. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. And the major college presidents have the power, and they control the money from the bowl games. And to have a playoff system would mean acquiescing power to the NCAA, an organization that just this year went after schools with "Native American" mascots and names in a backdoor way to try and make them change. To put it bluntly, there's no chance in hell. Forget logic, it just won't happen. Not anytime soon, anyway.
So what to do? Well, at the very least, the Big 10 could add another member to get to 12, since that is the magic number needed to have a conference championship game. Notre Dame makes sense there; I know that Notre Dame is real stubborn about this issue, but it makes the most sense. If not the Irish, then pick another school. Take Iowa State, and let the Big 12 get SMU, or TCU, or whomever. Meanwhile, the Pac 10 can become the Pac 12. Options include: Fresno State, Boise State, Nevada and UNLV. Boise State should be required to pull up that awful blue turf as a stipulation of membership, but that's a small price to pay for a slice of Pac 12 pie.
That gives you five major conferences (Pac 12, Big 12, Big 10 with 12 teams but some silly logo with a 2 inside a zero or something, the ACC, and the SEC.) Yank the Big East's automatic berth. I know, I know, there will be some crying about that, but between Pittsburgh getting an automatic BCS bid last year, and the chance that USF could get one this year, it's time for a change. I like USF, don't get me wrong, but just in 2002 the team was 9-2 and didn't get to go to a bowl game. Unless I'm playing NCAA Football for the PS2, that type of rags-to-riches jump doesn't exist.
The final three BCS berths? Give them to the most deserving teams. Yes, I know that will be up for debate, but as long as you have a voting system determining a champion, debate will be involved. At least that way all of the conferences have to go through the same process of playing in a conference championship game. That's right, USC, I'm talking to you. You too, Ohio State. The fact that Ohio State 2002 didn't have to play Iowa 2002 is a joke and exposes just how much of a hoax the system is.
There is one thing I know, though. Saturday will feature three great SEC matchups. And those will be determined on the field, not by polls, computers, or windbags babbling on sports television talk shows.