As is commonplace in the sport of college football that we love so dearly, we have a dilemma.
Putting away all of the scientific formulas and computer hard drives for a second, we need to focus on what our eyes have seen on the field through nine weeks of the college football season and use that part of our brain that controls common sense.
The Alabama Crimson Tide, the Oregon Ducks and the Florida State Seminoles are the three most dominant all-around teams in college football for 2013. You would be hard-pressed to find someone that has watched so far that’s going to argue that.
But, in the end, should they each finish undefeated, only two will have earned themselves the right to travel to Pasadena and bring the crystal ball back to their trophy case. The other one will be left with nothing.
No recognition, no fanfare, no confetti, just a trip to one of the other BCS Bowls and “Thanks for playing so hard this season, maybe you can snatch yourself a spot in that nice little playoff system we have in place for you next year.”
The problem with that is, college football fan bases are among the most impatient in all of sports. They don’t want to wait until next year. They want to wear their “2013 National Champions” commemorative t-shirts in the beginning of January!
Again, they’re left with noth…wait a minute. Yes, they’re left with nothing, unless the AP voters have something to say about it.
I’ve already seen the comparisons to 2003, and yes, some are glaring.
In that season, while there were no undefeated teams in the game, there were three powerful one-loss teams in the LSU Tigers–led by Nick Saban, the Oklahoma Sooners and the USC Trojans. Well, when the season came to a close, the Coaches Poll and computers all claimed that LSU and Oklahoma were the two most worthy participants to go to New Orleans and compete for the national title. USC, as the Pac-12 Champion, took their automatic berth to the Rose Bowl and played a 9-3 Michigan team.
In the title game, a stout LSU defense–a foreshadowing of thing’s to come, albeit at another school, from Nick Saban–shut down one of the most prolific offenses in the country in Oklahoma, led by QB Jason White.
Meanwhile, in Pasadena, a young crew comprised of Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush, LenDale White and others toppled Michigan 28-14.
When everything was complete, the Coaches poll, as they’re obligated to according to BCS agreement, voted LSU the #1 team in the country.
But, the AP, well they took a step back and decided that the Trojans were the best in the land, which they may have been validated in claiming the following year when USC wiped the floor with Oklahoma in the title game, 55-19.
The BCS system was put in place to prevent programs having to share titles, but in 2003, the AP decided to enact a bit of their own vigilante justice and scoff at that notion.
So, yes, I can see where people could look ahead and envision a similar scenario playing out ten years later, only this time with three undefeateds instead of three one-loss teams.
Well, I’m telling you, the light at the end of that tunnel is very dim.
You see, what helped in making that decision for the AP voters in that year was the fact that Oklahoma maybe shouldn’t have been in the title game to begin with. Just a month earlier, they were wiped out in the Big 12 Championship Game by Kansas State. However, by the virtue of the computers loving the way they made almost every game they played in that year a bloodbath, they were still able to sneak into the Sugar Bowl.
This year, to go undefeated, Florida State, Oregon and Alabama will all have to participate in their respective championship games. And, obviously, to get to Pasadena, they’re going to have to win those games. So, it’ll be hard to make an argument in this case for the team that’s getting left out.
Can the AP repeat their actions from 2003? Of course they can, they’re humans. They can do whatever they want, that’s the beauty part of free will. If Oregon and Alabama were to play a less than stellar game against one another inside the Rose Bowl, but Florida State blows out their opponent in the Orange Bowl, will it be enough to open up a good majority of the AP voter’s eyes to make them crown them? It’s possible.
But is it likely? No, not in this case.
In this case, no matter what happens, we’re going to have to live one more offseason thinking of what could’ve been for whomever gets left out.
Whoever walks out of Pasadena the winner this year will be the undisputed champion of college football. That’s just the way it is.