The BCS Is Brutal, Boring; The Broncos, Pats are Lucky; Seattle Could Be Screwed
January is that time of year – for the 50 States below us, above us, and to our West – normally reserved for whining about college football's ranking system, college football's wealth disparity, college football's athletes and their under-the-table deals and pending suspensions, and... everything about college football.
This year can't be different. After impressive wins, Michigan State and South Carolina surely feel like they deserved a seat at the table, and maybe even the throne. Alabama and Ohio State were proven overrated, right? Or were they?
Tonight – Monday – marks that nation's amateur game of the year, and Auburn heads into Pasadena to scorch Florida State's perfect record in the making. The game's on ESPN at 5 p.m. PST.
You should watch it, but you should also know, everything has an asterisk.
My Biggest Problem With the BCS...
When it comes to college football, I'm a little odd. I don't mind the BCS's ranking system or its championship. Of course, a playoff would be better, but I'll also admit the BCS normally gets it right. At least, it hedges its own bets.
It's easy to anoint Alabama the No. 1 every year, because you just have to wait for someone else to prove you wrong. And, if you get into the jam 2013 got us into – where Florida State, Auburn, Michigan State, Stanford and (probably) Ohio State all had their own legitimate claims to also be included in the top two – all you have to do is pick the probable, rightful contenders and then shrug you shoulders and say, "Well, Alabama should have been in there. The rest of you should be happy you're considered."
But I still have a major problem with the BCS. Not its ranking, but its schedule.
Why we do have to wait so long for this Bowl season to wrap up? Even worse, why do the best teams in the country have to wait so long for their Bowl season to wrap up?
While I don't think anyone pities those annually anointed powerhouses from Ohio State or Alabama – who both lost their nationally televised season finales last week and weekend – it's a little ridiculous that they have to wait weeks just to get to defend a poll position they already sort of earned.
And while I'm happy this delay – which makes freezing the kicker look like a favour – evens the whole thing out, giving teams like Clemson and Oklahoma a fighting chance against squad they would have been outmatched against just a couple weeks ago, I can't deny it kinds of sucks the life out of the whole thing and penalizes the wrong guys.
Sorry, penalizes the wrong kids.
In 2006, Ohio State was the best team in the country. The Florida Gators slouched into that No. 2 ranking because Michigan was actually the second-best team in the country, but they had to play Ohio State in their regular season and lost by a couple points.
But the Bowl Game didn't happen until 2007, long enough into the year that my undergrad classes had already resumed and I already hated school already over again.
Florida thumped Ohio State. Rocked them 41-14. Picked them apart and embarrassed them, all with the help of that quarterback tandem of Ryan Leak and Tim Tebow.
No disrespect to Florida, who were coached by the soon-to-be-anointed genius Urban Meyer and flanked by now Pro Bowler Percy Harvin, but Ohio State was the best college team that year, and they got nothing for it.
Sometimes, you see a better Bowl game than you hoped for. Such was the case in 2006, when Texas triumphed late over the Reggie Bush-led USC. Such was the case in 2011, when Cam Newton ran a game-winning drive late and down the throat of the Oregon Ducks.
But, mostly, the BCS championship is just a load of expired hype coming together to form another trophy for the Crimson Tide.
I guess, at least – and only thanks to the rankings – we don't have to watch that again this year.
The Terrifying Saints and 49ers...
What does a first round bye get ya?
In the NFC, not a whole lot. The Seattle Seahawks will host the New Orleans Saints, who may have been mugged in their only game against in the Emerald City this year but also know how to return a favour. You don't think Drew Breees remembers how miserable that Monday night was for him, when he was slapped around and shutdown, 34-7, in Seattle?
And as for the Carolina Panthers, who are no doubt living the good life with a division title and their best team since 2006, they have to open their gates for the San Francisco 49ers – the same team led by a gazelle at quarterback, the same team that are (although it was 12 months ago) a reigning Super Bowl runner-up, and the same team that just sliced through Lambeau Field in January.
Both the Saints and 49ers put up away wins last week. Don't be shocked if they run the table again.
Meanwhile, in the AFC...
Not saying the San Diego Chargers haven't earned their take. Same goes for the Indianapolis Colts, who are no doubt buzzing off that 28-point comeback win over Kansas City on Saturday.
But the NFL isn't exactly symmetrical, and the AFC is the Picasso'd version of the NFC's beautiful face.
The New England Patriots and Denver Broncos were far from perfect this season, but their first round byes have netted them "showdowns" with the Colts and Chargers, respectively. Two teams that have quarterbacks who force the issue far too often. Two teams with one, or maybe two, legitimate offensive weapons. Two teams that are now going against the two greatest quarterbacks of this (or maybe any) generation in Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.
Again, not saying those underdogs can't will themselves to another couple of Double You's.
But, think about it this way... if Vegas had its way, their opponents would be a Jamaal Charles-less Chiefs team and the schizophrenic Cincinnati Bengals.
Is that really any harder?