Alabama running back Trent Richardson scores on a long run in the 2009 BCS… (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles…)
Welcome to the season that couldn't get here fast enough . . . and still is not quite here yet. Thank goodness the end game to months of scandal, money-grubbing, investigations, infighting, arrests, firings and reform gobbledygook is actual football.
Staging games is what college football does far better than anything. Not even the grown-ups can wreck Saturdays in Ann Arbor or a pregame picnic in Oxford, Miss. No tree-poisoning loon from Alabama can undermine the power and passion of the regular season. No cover-up coach in Columbus can upstage his marching band and no bar fight in Baton Rouge is bigger than Mike the Tiger.
So put down your playoff petition, stop whining about Paul Dee, take your TV remote to Jiffy Lube and start the countdown clock to Louisiana State vs. Oregon, Boise State vs. Georgia, Minnesota at USC and UCLA at Houston.
And that's just the first Saturday. Enjoy the Big Ten's 12 teams, the Southeastern Conference's dominance and the Big 12 while it's still around. Wish Rick Neuheisel luck . . . and enjoy Stanford's Andrew.
As bad as the NCAA report looks, is there anything better?
A look at how the BCS bowl games could shake out:
BCS national championship game
Alabama vs. Oklahoma
Jan. 9, New Orleans
These national powerhouses have not met in the postseason since the 1970 Bluebonnet Bowl. That game ended in a 24-24 tie, so it's time to settle that score. One year after picking Boise State to make the title game, we're going old school. Oklahoma and Alabama have won national tiles before, and after, the BCS was formed. Oklahoma returns one of the nation's best pass-catch combinations in quarterback Landry Jones and receiver Ryan Broyles. Alabama will rely on tailback Trent Richardson and one of the nation's top defenses. The team that wins it all won't have to ask anyone how to celebrate.
Oregon vs. Nebraska
Jan. 2, Pasadena
This year's float theme: "Looking to make amends." Oregon got to Pasadena two years ago but blew its chance against Ohio State, while Nebraska, in January 2002, lost to Miami the first time the Rose Bowl hosted the BCS title game.
Boise State vs. Oklahoma State
Jan. 2, Glendale, Ariz.
Boise State, which shocked the football world with its stunning win against Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, tries to do a similar number on Oklahoma's arch-rival.
Stanford vs. Louisiana St.
Jan. 3, New Orleans
There's a good chance Andrew Luck will be the Heisman Trophy winner at kickoff against an LSU squad that fought through suspensions and adversity to secure the at-large bid.
Florida State vs. West Virginia
Jan. 4, Miami
Second-year Coach Jimbo Fisher leads the Seminoles back to a BCS bowl against Mountaineers first-year Coach Dana Holgorsen.