Thursday, December 8, 2011

There wasn’t much of a choice, even for those of us who didn’t want to see a rematch

image The rumblings of a possible rematch in the BCS Championship Game didn’t start when LSU’s Drew Allemand sailed the winning FG through the uprights in overtime. It was old news and all the buzz by then.

The talk started weeks before the heralded defensive slugfest that ended with neither team reaching the endzone. It was all over social media networks, fan message boards, talk radio and even in mainstream reports from major media outlets.

Whoever lost would likely only drop one or two spots in the standings and could climb back into contention for the No. 2 spot in the BCS rankings to get another shot. Crazy talk, right?

It got to the point in the run-up to the game that some knuckleheaded blogger demanded that the “rematch garbage” needed to come to a stop.

In the absence of a playoff system in the Football Bowl Subdivision, the November 5th meeting between SEC West Titans LSU and Alabama is a BCS Quarterfinal game. The winner goes on to likely win the SEC West division, demolish whatever patsy emerges from the SEC East “who sucks less” race, and play whatever other non-SEC team runs its table and finishes undefeated. Stanford, Oklahoma State, Boise State or Clemson. Any of the four could finish without losing a single game.

To suggest that the human voters in the USA Today and Harris Polls would stomach a one-loss SEC team gaining a rematch against the undefeated, undisputed SEC Champion is patently ridiculous. Quite frankly, anyone suggesting that it could be possible is either a few crab claws short of a bowl of gumbo or is working on an agenda that would throw college football back to the days when #1 and #2 faced each other only eight times in a bowl game in 56 seasons.

All any one of those four teams had to do was persevere and finish undefeated and they were in the big dance in the Big Easy. None of them did. Stanford lost to Oregon at home. Oklahoma State lost to Iowa State after being up by 17 points in the third quarter. Boise State lost a heartbreaker to TCU and Clemson ended up dropping three of its last five in a classic Clemsonesque meltdown.

To their credit, Oklahoma State did mount a nice rebound by beating a fading Oklahoma team beset with injuries on the same night that Alabama sat at home and watched LSU dismantle Georgia in the SEC Championship Game. OSU’s performance was enough to sway a lot of human voters. With Virginia Tech losing to Clemson in the ACC Championship Game the same day, it was good enough to move the ‘Pokes from No. 4 to No. 3 overall. But as SportsBizMiss Kristi Dosh points out, even if every human voter in both the USA Today and Harris Interactive polls had voted OSU third (some voted them fourth and lower), it still wouldn’t have been enough, and a good chunk of voters had them No. 2. In fact, there was probably a sizable number of poll voters who had Oklahoma State No. 4 or lower and moved them all the way up to No. 2, based on the argument that Bama had its chance and that someone else deserved a shot at LSU. I can’t disagree with that reasoning, but I don’t think I could ever have one team jump another one-loss team when the second one-loss team had done nothing deserving of a knock-down. Alabama didn’t lose last Saturday and the conventional wisdom is that you don’t punish non-losers at the top of the rankings.

Had Oklahoma State not blown a three score lead late in the game against Iowa State, there’d be an alternative to forcing LSU to beat Alabama twice to win the BCS Championship. It’s not fair to LSU to have to do that, but the other teams that had legitimate opportunities to keep it from happening failed to do so.

In that October 27 column, I promised that this space would not contain an argument for having Alabama in a rematch with LSU if the Tide lost the game on November 5. This column is no such argument. It is just an opinion.

Alabama is in a rematch because when all the scores were tallied, all the computer models were run and all the ballots were counted, there was no other choice, even for knuckleheads like me.

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