Yet another BCS whiff: Alabama’s brand burns the Cowboys

Maybe there'll be a touchdown scored the second time around. (AP photo)

Maybe there'll be a touchdown scored the second time around. Then again ... (AP photo)

Nobody ever said the BCS made sense, and this year it makes less sense than … well, can you make less sense than zero? Alabama did not win its division and did not win its conference but could well be the national champion in a sport where we’re told Every Game Counts.

Actually, what this year’s serving of BCS glop tells us is that it’s good to have an aura. Nick Saban has an aura, albeit one of fire and brimstone, which means Alabama has an aura, which means Alabama got a nod it didn’t deserve.

Bama played its two toughest conference games — LSU and Arkansas — at home. It didn’t play either Georgia or South Carolina, the best teams in the SEC East. It played five teams that finished with a winning record, and one was Georgia Southern. The Tide beat three teams that finished the Top 25 of the BCS standings.

Oklahoma State played four such teams and won all four games. It played seven teams that finished with winning records. The Cowboys did, for mavens of minutiae,  win their conference title. The knock on them is that they lost to unranked Iowa State. But they did lose on the road, and in overtime.

Alabama, the counter-argument goes, only lost in OT to the nation’s No. 1 team. But Alabama lost at home. Alabama was favored that night and couldn’t win. But because Alabama is coached by the dark lord Saban and because Alabama is from the SEC, which is the feeder league for BCS titlists, the Tide gets a second chance.

And this time the talking heads on ESPN, who make less sense with every week, had no problem with the concept of a rematch or the reality of a non-conference champion playing for the BCS crown. (Oddly enough, some of those same voices hooted down Georgia’s credentials in 2007. “Can’t consider a team that didn’t win its conference,” the ESPN choir harrumphed.) And Saturday night, moments after Oklahoma State finished routing Oklahoma, which entered the season ranked No. 1, some ESPN boys leaped at the chance to say, “Ah, that doesn’t really matter.”

“SportsCenter” opened with the highlights of the SEC title game and then Oklahoma State’s dismissal of its bitter rival. Then the Bristol anchors tossed, as they say in TV, to Brent Musburger and Kirk Herbstreit. Musburger, who had famously lobbied for Georgia Tech to be promoted above Colorado to No. 1 when calling Tech’s victory in the Citrus Bowl in January 1991, started with a little joke. What’s wrong with a rematch, he asked, and cited the extremely appropriate case study of Rocky Balboa versus Apollo Creed.

Then Herbstreit dismissed Oklahoma State by saying the Cowboys had lost in Ames, Iowa, and, more to the point, didn’t pass “the eyeball test.” Which made you wonder: How could Kirk Herbstreit know just how Oklahoma State had looked against Oklahoma? He (and Musburger) had been sitting in a booth in Charlotte, N.C., calling the ACC title game.

Because big-time college football has no playoff grid, ephemeral stuff like “the eyeball test” and someone’s opinion — yours, mine and especially Kirk Herbstreit’s — are allowed to hold disproportionate sway. Alabama won’t be playing for the (exceedingly mythical) national championship because it had a better season than Oklahoma State but because its has the stronger brand. It’s Alabama. It plays in the SEC. It’s coached by Saban. Good enough for me! Give that team a second chance!

And that’s what big-time college football has become — a game of brands, not reality. Is it mere coincidence that ESPN has a 15-year contract to carry SEC games? (ESPN also has a contract with the Big 12, Oklahoma State’s diminishing league, but the bigger Big 12 package is with Fox Sports.)

This was a year when opinion mattered. Five of the seven computer rankings had Oklahoma State above Alabama, but the Tide finished ahead in both human polls. Why? Because of the brand. You cannot tell me that if  Alabama’s name were attached to Oklahoma State’s body of work and vice versa that the results wouldn’t have been different. We all know they would have.

And now we’re faced with this scenario: A winner of nothing save some eyeball test can split two games against another team … and be declared national champ. Some “system” this is.

By Mark Bradley

1,739 comments Add your comment

jjm

December 4th, 2011
8:24 pm

Playoff system!

SoCal UgaDawg

December 4th, 2011
8:26 pm

SoCal UgaDawg

December 4th, 2011
8:27 pm

Nick Saban & Bama are evil

Soccer Dawg

December 4th, 2011
8:28 pm

Cowboys was robbed!

Cobb Oxford

December 4th, 2011
8:28 pm

Right on, Mark. What a joke of a system. TV set this game. Oklahoma State and the fans of college football got screwed.

Dawg48

December 4th, 2011
8:28 pm

I smell some BcS going on!

Dave

December 4th, 2011
8:30 pm

BCS is such a joke. .It needs to go. They change their rules year by year. 5 years ago during the 2006 season and the argument was Michigan didn’t win its division so they shouldn’t get the rematch vs Ohio St for the game. Michigans only loss was to #1 Ohio St. Same thing this year, but now with Alabama it all of the sudden matters that Alabamas only loss was to #1 LSU, BCS is so far up the SEC’s @$$ that it is not even funny,

Dawg48

December 4th, 2011
8:30 pm

Nick saban should run for president GREAT politician!
The ESPNCAA had him politicking all Saturday morning!

Will

December 4th, 2011
8:31 pm

Thanks Espn for helping ruin college football !

SoCal UgaDawg

December 4th, 2011
8:31 pm

Cowpokes should get a split national championship if they win and Bama upsets LSU

Chi Town

December 4th, 2011
8:33 pm

Respect, Saban.

Randy

December 4th, 2011
8:34 pm

your a joke. the bcs was made to match the two best teams in the nation. its not even close between alabama and ok state in that regard.

01HAWK

December 4th, 2011
8:34 pm

ROLL TIDE ROLL

THEY CALL ALABAMA THE CRIMSON TIDE……………………………….Isn’t that what STEELY DAN stated.

RS Dawg

December 4th, 2011
8:34 pm

Does not really matter, LSU will be national champions. Probably should play Green Bay!!

Deja vu

December 4th, 2011
8:35 pm

Dead on, Mark. The undefeated Auburn brand in 2004 didn’t have the chance either when two teams were well qualified to play USC. One can only hope justice is served and the same result happens in the title* game.

DawgFan82

December 4th, 2011
8:35 pm

Georgia to the Outback versus Michigan State. Should be a good game.

Jason Cochran

December 4th, 2011
8:35 pm

Thanks #BCS for freeing up 3 hours of my life.. I have already seen this game – LSU was the winner..

Kim

December 4th, 2011
8:35 pm

Sour grapes!

Roll Tide Roll

jeff

December 4th, 2011
8:36 pm

Nobody watch the LSU vs Alabama game … And I meen NOBODY! Follow the money … what would happen??

Vicky

December 4th, 2011
8:37 pm

Should have been Oklahoma State playing LSU.. EVERYONE knows that. Boo Boo BCS…

JRock

December 4th, 2011
8:37 pm

Roll Tide Roll!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

steve

December 4th, 2011
8:37 pm

my home is ALABAMA, national championships, roll tide roll………….

Drew

December 4th, 2011
8:38 pm

It is a sad state of affairs when my favorit sport–college football–has such a broken and completely unfair mechanism for determining a champion. It hurts the sport, the athletes and the fans.

t

December 4th, 2011
8:38 pm

Dawg48

December 4th, 2011
8:38 pm

What’s up with teams from Alabama trying to buy NC?
Auburn bought one last year big bad bama had to out do em and politic their way into this one!
I’m an SEC fan but this is a joke!

Scirone

December 4th, 2011
8:38 pm

The most ridiculous thing about the bcs is that ok state can lose to an unranked 6-4 team and only drop one spot

BEV

December 4th, 2011
8:39 pm

Get over it! Roll Tide Roll!

Robards

December 4th, 2011
8:39 pm

Mark, I dislike ‘Bama as much as you do. When Herbsteit talked about the eyeball test, he wasn’t just talking about last night. Okie State has the better resume. However, Alabama is better than the Cowboys by 14 points or so. Just the way it is. And although I don’t care for Georgia, LSU should have been played the Dawgs in ‘07, not the Buckeyes. Irrelevant for this year though.

swhite1951

December 4th, 2011
8:39 pm

The TV ratings for this “game” will be dismal nationwide, although they’ll be great in Louisiana and Alabama, two HUGE TV markets. This may be the beginning of the end of the BCS, one can only hope that after this fiasco even the coaches, ADs, and University presidents will start lobbying for some sort of playoff system. Which brings up a great trivia question: What are the only three sports in the world that don’t have a playoff? Horse racing, boxing, and NCAA Division 1 College Football. Every other sport has a playoff, and every other football division has a playoff. How do you spell BCS? Bowl Champion$hip $erie$…and that’s all it is. They really don’t care a bout the fans.

GT Fan

December 4th, 2011
8:39 pm

This is BS. I hate college football now. I freaking hate it.

J.J.M.

December 4th, 2011
8:40 pm

SoCal UgaDawg FAIL

swhite1951

December 4th, 2011
8:41 pm

Yo, Randy, learn to spell. Were you a product of the University of Alabama?

jeff

December 4th, 2011
8:42 pm

Dont watch … they will start caring!

Bama Grad

December 4th, 2011
8:42 pm

Had nothing to do with the brand. Bama is the more complete team. I don’t care how good their defense looked against a depleted OU offense last night – they gave up over 500 yards I believe in 3 different games this year including the loss to Iowa State. A team with that kind of defense doesn’t deserve a spot in the title game.

Dawg48

December 4th, 2011
8:43 pm

Espn guys said we need a plus one play off this year!
LSU already beat bama what more of a playoff do you need!

tulsabravo

December 4th, 2011
8:43 pm

To hell with college football. I won’t be watching any of this game.

RTR22

December 4th, 2011
8:44 pm

01 Hawk the SD tune is called Deacon Blues lol…… Roll Tide and if you dont like the selection DO NOT WATCH THE GAME. Look at reruns of your pathetic Auburn, Fla and Ga teams.

MB you are right about the Alabama brand name…. why drive a Kia when the Porsche is ready to roll

Tech Fan Since 1950

December 4th, 2011
8:44 pm

The BCS continues to be a fraud. Orin Hatch, President Obama, republicans and democrats and independents—–HELP!!! It may seem trivial to some, but what is going on between the big time college administrators and television networks in creating and maintaining the BCS is a national travesty. The current system is a con game. It reflects badly on this nation. Yes, there are many other pressing issues facing this nation, but having a legitimate selection (playoff) for college football seems like would be a no brainer.

JRock

December 4th, 2011
8:44 pm

get over it! Roll Tide!

brad

December 4th, 2011
8:45 pm

What a bunch of cry-babies. Suck it up, losers.

James Brown Celebrity Hot Tub Party

December 4th, 2011
8:45 pm

The best two teams are playing. Bama might even be favored. LSU would be a 12 point favorite over OSU. That being said, we do need a playoff system.

bamaman

December 4th, 2011
8:45 pm

Cry me a river, come play in the SEC week in and week out, tell me that you have a great team after running the gauntlet we play every week. Yes we lost at home in OT, just like OkIe State, but the difference is, LSU and Iowa State. We can’t help that our schedule did not have us playing S Carolina or Georgia, we rotate them every 2-3 years, so yes we do play them.

I am so tired of all the SEC haters, people get over it, play some teams that play defense, that is what wins Championships, not the high scoring offenses, why do you think it was 9-6, the No.’s 1 and 2 defenses provided a stalemate, neither of the remaining one loss teams could hold a candle to LSU or Alabama, they would be run out of the stadium, look over the last six years, only Oregon is the only team I can recall that had a decent game last year against Auburn and Cam.

I do feel bad for Ok. State, they had a great season and game against OK, but OK was playing withour several of their star players, wonder what the outcome would have been had they been healthy? I guess we will never know will we, congrats to Okie State on the Big 12 Championship, hopefully, they will get smart and get in a conference that plays not only offense, but defense and special teams, that is why Bama and LSU will battle it out and give the SEC its 6th straight BCS Title.

BCS is Crap

December 4th, 2011
8:46 pm

I will not watch the championship game, nor will I watch any espn show other than game footage. The ESPN talking heads and 90% of sports writer are to blame for this crap game. ESPN and the BCS is a plague on college football.

The NCAA is a joke too.

John

December 4th, 2011
8:46 pm

Just declare LSU national champion. Nobody else is close.

Realist

December 4th, 2011
8:46 pm

Hey swhite1951, gotta update your playoff system trivia question. European soccer leagues don’t have a playoff. Europe is still in the world.

Alphare

December 4th, 2011
8:46 pm

Mark,

“Alabama did not win its division and did not win its conference but could well be the national champion in a sport where we’re told Every Game Counts”.

BAMA didn’t win the division because the #1 team happens to be in the same division.

Yes, Every Game Counts. OSU lost 1 game, BAMA lost 1 game, and lost to the #1 team vs OSU lost to a 6-6 team.

todd grantham

December 4th, 2011
8:46 pm

Mark< do you think that either LSU or Bama would trade a backup offensive tackle to Georgia for Crowell?

TylerDyrden

December 4th, 2011
8:47 pm

Here come the crybabys, Alabama is ranked #2 on every poll and has been for a while. Their only loss was to #1 lsu by 3 in overtime. Oklahoma st had its oportunisty but lost to unranked Iowa state, cowboys robbed gimme a break. Let them get beat by Boise st in the fiesta bowl.

Dale

December 4th, 2011
8:47 pm

so incredibly biased, stupid article not even worth reading.

BCS terrorist

December 4th, 2011
8:48 pm

Great article Mark. Hit nail right on head. Saban and his bunch rule the SEC from a mountaintop of aura and marketability. Thanks for telling it like it is – Go Dawgs!