That giant sucking sound last Saturday night has been identified. It was the col-lective gasp among the honchos at the National Collegiate Athletic Association when they realized their upcoming Jan. 3 national championship football game is a sham.
It came at about 11 p.m., when Louisiana State University finished off its upset of the University of Tennessee in the Southeastern Conference championship game. Tennessee's defeat meant that the two teams considered the nation's best in the polls, Miami and Tennessee, would not meet after all in the Rose Bowl game, this year's national title game in the Bowl Championship Series.
Instead, under a complicated formula that only Stephen Hawking could understand, Nebraska will meet Miami for the national championship. That's good for Nebraska but bad for just about everybody else.
Nebraska is good, all right, but not good enough to have even won its own league championship. The Cornhuskers were routed in their regular season finale by Colorado, 62-36 and didn't even make it to the Big 12 title game. Colorado did, and won it, completing a schedule rated the second-toughest in the nation. Yet the BCS formula denied the Buffaloes a spot in the national title game by 0.05 of a point.
All of this could have been avoided, from the BCS' point of view, had Tennessee prevailed against LSU and held on to its number two ranking. But LSU Coach Nick Saban, former head coach at the University of Toledo and a guy who knows a thing or two about coaching, had other ideas.
So Nebraska takes its Heisman Trophy quarterback to Pasadena while the team that embarrassed the Cornhuskers goes to the Fiesta Bowl against an opponent who feels similarly aggrieved. Oregon won the PAC 10 and, like Nebraska, has just one loss. But no Rose Bowl bid.
The scenario is the worst possible outcome for the BCS, which established the bowl championship series with the goal of eliminating post-season controversy. Clearly, once again this year, it is having exactly the opposite effect.
If nothing else, the controversy demonstrates the futility of trying to draft a foolproof system. As long as there are passionate college football fans, there will be several teams claiming “We're Number One!”
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