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The BCS Nightmare Barely Averted: Five Teams, Two Championship Bids

By Yong-yi Zhu
ASSOCIATE SPORTS EDITOR

Every year around this time, we wonder about a lot of things. We wonder what Santa Claus is going to bring us for Christmas. We wonder if all those calories we packed on during Thanksgiving are actually going to disappear as we hope.

And we wonder if the BCS is going to need more tweaking next year.

This is the first time that we won’t have to deal with the possibility of a split national championship or a major dispute from the number three team. But had the dice rolled another way, the post-season picture would be quite different.

Let’s look at what would have happened if Texas and USC had both lost convincingly and LSU and Virginia Tech had both won. In this alternate universe, all four of these teams would have only one loss. Who would be deserving of the chance to go to the National Championship then?

You could make a case for any one of USC, Texas, LSU, Virginia Tech, Penn State, or even Oregon. Of the teams with one loss, these are the ones that have played the toughest all season long.

Start with USC, the clear favorite to win the real national championship. Would they be going to the Rose Bowl if they had lost Saturday? They had to deal with a tough Pac-10 this season, with the likes of UCLA and Oregon, and being champion of that league is tougher than ever.

Some argue that they didn’t have to play a conference championship game. But that shouldn’t disqualify them, given all their huge wins this season. The bottom line is that they still would have deserved the nod to Pasadena even if they had lost Saturday night.

My pick for USC’s opponent in this hypothetical world would be LSU. The biggest reason is that with a win Saturday, they would have been the champion of the deadly SEC. Sure, the Gators and Volunteers have dropped from their high thrones, but Georgia, Alabama and Auburn have taken their places, maintaining the SEC’s status as the toughest conference.

The other four would have a tougher time convincing me that they are Rose Bowl worthy. Oregon did not play UCLA, one of the major powers in their conference. More importantly, I don’t think they can match up with the other teams in question.

Penn State, Virginia Tech, and Texas wouldn’t deserve it because they play in weaker conferences than the SEC and weren’t as consistently dominant.

So, what is the solution? Playoffs are probably the only way to go. I may sound like a broken record saying playoffs are the solution to all of college football’s problems, but just look at the NCAA Basketball tournament. It’s a simple concept: pick a bunch of teams, who have a possibility of being a national champion, and let them duke it out.

Sure, the teams on the bubble will complain about not being selected. But the likelihood of the “true” best team being left out is a lot smaller when you let eight teams in that when you only let two in, which is the current system.

And maybe then, instead of whining during Christmas, we can have exciting football playoffs that spur on office pools and more unproductive Saturdays.