New York–One of the things we lost with the advent of the BCS in 1998 was the magical quality about New Year’s Day for the college football fan. Before the BCS scattered the big games over several days, New Year’s Day was when everything got decided.
You would get up in the morning (some of us got up slower than others), watch a little of the parades to make your mother happy, and then settle in for a day and night full of football where multiple games could, and often did, have a bearing on the eventual national champion.
Sure the system was flawed because No. 1 and No. 2 rarely met in a bowl game because of conference tie-ins. And when New Year’s Day was over there could be multiple teams with a claim on the national championship. But every now and then you got a day like Jan. 2, 1984 (Jan. 1 fell on a Sunday that year).
When we woke up that morning here were the Top Five in the Associated Press poll:
Here is how the day unfolded:
**–In the afternoon Georgia got a late turnover and John Lastinger scored the winning touchdown with 3:22 left to upset No. 2 Texas 10-9. Texas was eliminated.
**–No. 3 Auburn got three field goals from Al Del Greco, the last one with 27 seconds left, to beat Michigan 9-7. Auburn felt like it was in the hunt for the national championship if No. 1 Nebraska lost that night in the Orange Bowl.
**–No. 4 Illinois just didn’t show up and got pounded by UCLA 45-9 in the Rose Bowl.
**–The day was capped off by the Orange Bowl, where Nebraska’s failed attempt at a two-point conversion gave No. 5 Miami the historic 31-30 win.
The next day the voters in the two major polls elevated Miami from No. 5 to No. 1. Auburn finished No. 2 and was devastated.
The point is that on that day four different bowls (Rose, Sugar, Cotton, Orange) all had a say in who the national champion would eventually be.
In many ways it was better than what we have now, which is that everything is thrown into one game and the rest of the games are for entertainment purposes only.
Do I want to go back to that system? Nope. I want a four-team playoff where the semifinals are played on New Year’s Day. I believe the excitement created by two national semifinals on Jan. 1 would be the equivalent of the NFL’s conference championship Sunday. It would put the pop back into New Year’s Day, which is something I think the sport really needs.
Just for fun, here is what New Year’s Day would look like under a four-team playoff:
Sugar Bowl: No. 1 Auburn vs. No. 4 Stanford
Rose Bowl: No. 2 Oregon vs. No. 3 TCU
The winners would advance to the national championship game in the Fiesta Bowl, still on Jan. 10.
Wisconsin, at No. 5, would have the biggest gripe. But in any system somebody will have a gripe.
Just something to think about. Here is our Fearless Friday Forecast, the last for 2010:
1. Georgia vs. UCF (Liberty Bowl): A.J. Green goes out with a huge game but this will be a tough one for the Bulldogs. UCF is well coached by George O’Leary. Georgia 24, UCF 21.
2. South Carolina vs. Florida State (Chick-fil-A Bowl): Alshon Jeffrey and Stephen Garcia hook up for at least two big touchdown plays. South Carolina 31, Florida State 20.
3. Miami vs. Notre Dame (Sun Bowl): Miami has a interim coach and its players have gone through a lot of drama this year. The Hurricanes have more athletes but Notre Dame will find a way to win with defense. Notre Dame 28, Miami 21.
4. Clemson vs. South Florida (Meinke Car Care): A rested Kyle Parker finds his passing touch for Clemson while a talented defense keeps the Bulls in check. Clemson 27, South Florida 20.
5. Texas Tech vs. Northwestern (Ticket City): Tommy Tuberville already had a bad defense at Texas Tech. Then he fired his defensive coordinator, James Willis. Don’t think the Red Raiders can slow Northwestern down. Northwestern 34, Texas Tech 31.
6. Florida vs. Penn State (Outback Bowl): Gators win for a final time for Urban Meyer. Florida 24, Penn State 17.
7. Alabama vs. Michigan State (Capital One Bowl): Bama pounds the ball with Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson. Alabama 24, Michigan State 10.
8. Mississippi State vs. Michigan (Gator Bowl): Michigan has the No. 108 defense in the nation. Rich Rodriguez coaches his last game for the Wolverines. Mississippi State 38, Michigan 31.
9. Wisconsin vs. TCU (Rose): TCU is fast and talented but Wisconsin is big and talented and strong. Badgers wear the Horned Frogs down in Pasadena. Wisconsin 27, TCU 17.
10. Oklahoma vs. Connecticut (Fiesta Bowl): Oklahoma has struggled in this game in the past (losses to Boise State and West Virginia) but quarterback Landry Jones has a hot hand and way too many talented players around him. Oklahoma 34, Connecticut 17.
I’m back in New York today working for CBS and its coverage of the Sun Bowl. We’ll be providing scores and highlights throughout the day starting at 2 p.m. Please come visit if you can.
Please follow me on Twitter: