If there was ever a perfect example of why we need a playoff system in college football, we got in on Monday night.
There's no need to harp on all the reasons why the BCS doesn't work now that we're finally getting a playoff format in 2014. We'll have six games, and the real contenders will get prime opportunities to separate themselves from the pretenders, and when the national championship rolls around, the two teams that are supposed to be there will be there.
But 2014 cannot come soon enough.
This year's national championship game proved to us that just because you are the No. 1 team in the nation doesn't mean that you are the team most deserving of a championship berth.
Was it possible that Notre Dame just had a bad game—its only bad game—at the worst possible time? Yes, it's possible. It's possible that having a 40-day layoff in between the regular-season finale and the national championship messed with the Irish's preparation, and it's possible that they just fell asleep at the wrong time.
But it's also possible that the Irish were just out of their league, and it's possible that other teams deserved to be in the national championship more than Notre Dame did, even if they had a loss in 2012.
It's hard to determine exactly what went wrong on Monday night, but the BCS system was a part of it. Judging by strength of schedule and strength of opponents and whatever other quasi-meaningless stats you want to look at, the disparity between Alabama and Notre Dame shouldn't have been as obvious as it was.
What was obvious was that there were plenty of other teams this season that gave us a better football game—against Alabama—than Notre Dame did. One of them was LSU. Another, obviously, was Texas A&M, the only team to beat the Crimson Tide in 2012. Another was Georgia in the SEC title game. All of those teams gave us a football game to watch rather than a slaughtering.
What happened on Monday night wasn't good for Notre Dame. Being in the national championship is an accomplishment, but getting beaten the way the Irish did counteracts that accomplishment. It made the Irish look like frauds. It made them look unprepared and overwhelmed. It made them look like they would have been better off playing in the Orange Bowl or the Gator Bowl because at least in those bowls they would have been able to compete.
They may have been the No. 1 team in the nation, and they may have been able to beat up on the Oklahomas and the USCs of the world in 2012, but they weren't a national championship-caliber team. Alabama made that very clear when it made "the nation's best defense" look like the Tennessee Titans defense.
There's no way to say, conclusively, that a Florida, or an Oregon, or a Georgia would have been able to do better than Notre Dame did on Monday night. But at least a playoff system would have given those teams a chance of doing better. A playoff system would have rewarded the teams that are truly capable of being the best of the best because it would have given them a chance to do so prior to Jan. 8.
A playoff system would have given us something better than the one-sided beatdown we could only get from a computerized system that is growing more and more irrelevant each year.
Every other sport has a playoff system. It's time for college football to catch up. But it's OK. It's almost 2014.