NEW ORLEANS — The Falcons need to fire everybody. (Not really. But I’ve felt left out in the last 24 hours of venting since I’m covering the BCS title game. I promise to weigh in on the Falcons later this week, which still will be long before the flames on Arthur Blank’s head are extinguished.)
Now, back to the BCS. It’s LSU vs. Alabama. Please, no more whining. It SHOULD be LSU vs. Alabama. These aren’t just the two best teams in the SEC, they’re the two best teams in the country.
I’ve heard and read complaints from fans and media in every time zone. Some say this match-up completely devalues the regular season and makes LSU’s win in Tuscaloosa back in November meaningless. OK. That’s a a legitimate argument.
Some say that two teams from the same conference shouldn’t be allowed into the title game. I get that viewpoint.
Some say only conference champions should be eligible for the BCS title game. Perfectly understandable.
Here’s the problem: The rules don’t stipulate any of that. If the BCS or conference presidents or college presidents or whomever it is that actually set up this stupid system wants to tweak the set-up and attach those rules, that’s fine. Then we won’t have this problem.
But those rules aren’t in place and this is what you get — which are still the two best teams with the two best defenses. There’s no doubt about it in my mind. I covered that game in November and left Bryant-Denny Stadium still believing they were the two best (in fact, even after LSU won 9-6 in overtime, part of me still thought Alabama, after missing four goals, was the better team).
Some voters in the Associated Press
poll — which is not a part of the BCS’s formula – are leaving the door open to voting LSU No. 1 even if Alabama wins, based on the Tigers’ win in the last meeting and going through their regular season schedule unbeaten.
Sorry, but that’s just stupid. Apply that logic to any other sport. So, if Denver Broncos win the Super Bowl, do you vote the Green Bay Packers champions, just because all evidence says they’re a better team. This is a playoff game. What happened before wasn’t a playoff game. It shouldn’t matter if the the loser of tonight’s game has 450 yards in offense and lost 7-6 on a 99-yard fumble return with 12 seconds left. Tonight’s winner should be recognized as the champion.
Now, about my outlook: I have no idea. You know that cliche that goes, “If they played 100 times, they’d each win 50″? It applies here. But just because “black” should come up half the time on a roulette wheel doesn’t mean “red” doesn’t hit 12 times in a row. (I speak from experience. But we really don’t need to go any further.)
I don’t expect another 9-6 game (and neither do the coaches). I do expect expect another close, low-scoring game. I find it hard to believe LSU coach Les Miles – who went vanilla in the last meeting — will be able to go four quarters again without so much as one trick play. In championship games, it’s expected that you play and coach aggressively so my guess is Miles does something, and the biggest question is whether it works or backfires.
It’s hard not to be impressed with the toughness and resilience of both teams. LSU went 13-0, won five road games (plus “neutral” site wins over Oregon in Dallas and over Georgia in the SEC championship at the Georgia Dome), has beaten eight ranked teams and has overcome some off-field issues, including offensive coordinator Steve Kragthorpe stepping down in August after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. (He remained on Miles’ staff as quarterbacks’ coach.)
Alabama wasn’t really tested after the LSU game (wins over Mississippi State, Georgia Southern, Auburn). But the Tide is one overtime field goal away from being unbeaten and comes in with that knowledge that it could’ve one that game if their kicker didn’t miss four field goal attempts. I’m sure coach Nick Saban has used that as motivation.
That’s enough for now. I’ll check back here as we get closer to game time. Straw poll: LSU or Alabama?
By Jeff Schultz