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Don't call this a national championship

January 06, 2008|Tim Dahlberg | Associated Press

Break out the publicity machines. Bring on the hype.

Hurry, though, because time is short and the burden is huge. Just a few days remain to wipe out the images that filled so many hung-over heads on New Year's Day and somehow make them believe once again.

Just a few days remain to pull off the snow job of the young year.

After a season of some unbelievable ups and downs in college football, the Fox television network has the unenviable task of scoring the biggest upset yet: figuring out a way to make people believe that the winner of the BCS championship game will really be the champion of all the land.

Here's hoping Fox does its best because there's a lot at stake here, though the credibility of the BCS is not part of it. That was lost a long time ago when fans figured out it is merely a sham to protect the interests of big conferences and big television networks.

But it would be nice to have Monday's prime-time game mean something other than being a vehicle for fattening the paychecks of two already well-paid coaches and for Fox to beat down the highly anticipated premiere of "Dance War: Bruno vs. Carrie Ann" on rival ABC.

"Dance War" might be the most interesting, er, sporting event of the night. It matches rival teams of singers and dancers headed by "Dancing With The Stars" judges Bruno Tonioli and Carrie Ann Inaba in a few bouts of, er, singing and dancing.

The losing coach has to whack somebody from his team each week until only one team is left. In other words, kind of what passes for a playoff system in reality television.

It's hard to figure out what's at stake in the show other than laying claim to something called the "ultimate dance team." Then again, I've been having trouble figuring out just what is at stake when Ohio State and LSU meet in the Superdome in the final BCS game of the year.

But after watching USC and Georgia demolish their New Year's Day opponents, does anyone outside of Louisiana and Ohio really believe that Ohio State-LSU winner will be regarded as the undisputed national champion? If so, do they also believe Wayne Newton can really dance?

The answers, in short order, are no and no.

That's not to take anything away from Ohio State or LSU, neither of which had to beg for a spot in the final game as a certain school did last season.

It is, however, an indictment of the system.

Is there a logical reason one two-loss team (LSU) deserves to be in the game more than other two-loss teams (USC,Georgia)? Can someone really explain why Ohio State should be playing when three of its wins were gimmes and it lost at home to an Illinois team that USC treated like a rag doll in the Rose Bowl?

Actually, someone probably can, and mouthpieces for the BCS will tell you that as long as people are talking about who should be in the game it creates more interest than if there was a national playoff.

People are talking, all right. But they're not talking much about either LSU or Ohio State, and the ratings for the title game will probably reflect that. Instead they're talking about Georgia and they're talking about USC, which would be favored by Las Vegas oddsmakers in any game right now against any team.

Pete Carroll wasn't going to complain or get on his knees and beg. But he made it clear his Trojans would welcome any challenge.

"(I) just wish we could keep playing and I know these guys would," Carroll said. "We would play long into the springtime if we had to, if they would let us."

So would Georgia, whose players weren't bashful about letting it be known who they think is the top team in the country after making Hawaii wish it had never left the islands.

Neither team will get the chance to prove its point, of course, because the BCS anointed LSU and Ohio State to play for the trophy.

USC may have a shot if the LSU-Ohio State game is played so badly that voters in the Associated Press poll vote the Trojans their national champions.

The better thing for football fans would be a good game to end the season. Crown someone the BCS titleholder and let's move on.

Until there is a real playoff, though, don't call them the national champions.

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