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BCS motto falls way short this weekend

Organization's media guide claims that every game counts, but because of the way the system works, the reality is that no matter what happens the national title game will be No.1 Louisiana State versus No. 2 Alabama.

December 01, 2011|Chris Dufresne
  • Louisiana State running back Spencer Ware, right, runs into Alabama linebacker Jerrell Harris during the Tigers' overtime victory on Nov. 5. The two Southeastern Conference titans are set to meet again in the BCS national title game.
Louisiana State running back Spencer Ware, right, runs into Alabama linebacker… (Dave Martin / Associated…)

This should be one heck of an exciting final weekend because it says on Page 5 of the Bowl Championship Series media guide "The BCS delivers the most meaningful regular season in sports."

The manual reiterates, "The BCS plays an important role in preserving and enhancing college football's unique regular season where every game counts."

Except every game this weekend doesn't count.

In fact, if you listen to the pundits, none of the games count.

"You've got to be kidding me," BCS Executive Director Bill Hancock shot back Wednesday. "For Georgia to have the chance to win the SEC championship, it counts tremendously."

OK, it counts for Georgia, No. 14 in this week's BCS standings.

The national title game, no matter what happens, is going to be No.1 Louisiana State versus No. 2 Alabama.

And the Southeastern Conference, which has won seven BCS titles and the last five, would actually be better off if Louisiana State lost to Georgia in Saturday's title game in Atlanta.

Georgia would be assured a Sugar Bowl berth while it's likely Louisiana State and Alabama would still play for the BCS title a week later in the Superdome.

What happened to all the other conferences and schools?

In theory, No. 3 Oklahoma State's game against Oklahoma on Saturday should count.

Nobody wants to see a Louisiana State-Alabama rematch, right?

In 2006, the SEC adamantly argued against Ohio State playing Michigan in the national title game. Michigan's only loss that season was by three points, on the road, against No. 1 Ohio State.

Florida President Bernie Machen bellowed after the Gators defeated Arkansas (by 10 points) in the SEC title game, "If they don't vote for us after tonight, we need a new system."

A Florida fan, like a puppy in a window, peered into the press box and pleaded to voters, "Give us a shot."

Moved by a chorus of protest in the South, voters manipulated Florida past Michigan into the No. 2 BCS spot. Every game counted that final weekend.

What happened to this weekend?

Oklahoma State, which has a mascot named Pistol Pete, isn't even drawing its guns. Shouldn't a victory over No. 10 Oklahoma start a saloon brawl?

Coach Mike Gundy said of shamelessly campaigning, "That's not my background, that's not my personality."

Gundy had steam coming out of his ears a few years back when he challenged lily-livered reporters to come after him, "I'm a man, I'm 40!"

Suddenly, he has gone from Gundy to Gandhi.

"We all signed up and said we're going to agree to it," he said of the BCS.

What?

Nowhere does the BCS contract stipulate you can't mount a counterinsurgency to brainwash hearts and minds in key precincts.

Mack Brown's brilliant oration propelled Texas past California and into the January 2005 Rose Bowl against Michigan. Brown's "I have a team!" speech is on loop at Austin's National Archives & Tex-Mex. Why isn't Oklahoma State on a soapbox?

No one is catching Louisiana State in the BCS standings. The Tigers are Secretariat in the Belmont.

Alabama is No. 2 and Oklahoma State is No. 3, and Gundy says that's the way it ought to be.

"We have a loss and they have a loss," he said of Alabama. "They lost to the No. 1 team in the country."

Here's guessing Gundy changes his story if — a big if — Oklahoma State wipes out Oklahoma. Sorry, too late.

It has been 14 rocky years for the BCS, but what good is a haywire system if it can't even provide closing-act controversy?

"Every Game Counts" is a pretty definitive advertising slogan. You can't be American Express and sell "don't leave home without it" with a commercial of a guy leaving home without it.

The BCS isn't to blame for the inevitable Louisiana State-Alabama rematch. The voters and computers have decided this.

However, there is growing resignation to "BCS fatigue."

Some college administrators are weary of defending a system that was created in 1998 only to allow No. 1 and No. 2 to meet in a sport that was fundamentally opposed to a playoff.

The ancillary effect was that it created more, not less, access for mid-major schools like Boise State and Utah.

Unintentionally, it whetted a thirst for more access and money and produced a face only a mother and her antitrust lawyer could love.

Playoff proponents think destroying the BCS would logically lead to a playoff.

"It's human nature to let wishful thinking overtake reality," Hancock said.

Commissioners are actually running the other way with starting-point talk of paring the BCS down to a skeletal frame. Keep it only to pair 1-2, is one plan, while removing the automatic qualifier conditions for conference champions.

In essence, everyone after 1-2 would be a free agent.

There would be no restrictions on how many teams a conference could send to a BCS game. The Rose Bowl wouldn't be required to, in given years, take Texas Christian.

Boise State, which has played in two Fiesta Bowls during the BCS era, might never play in another.

This rollback is the radical counterweight to the 16-team-playoff crowd. The answer is somewhere in between, but closer to 1997 than it is to playoffs.

The people sick and tired of the BCS might finally be getting through to the people who are sick and tired of defending it.

Until then, remember: "Almost every game counts."

chris.dufresne@latimes.com

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