In what has quickly emerged as an annual tradition, the melding of computer, man, and coach that yields the BCS results has screwed things up yet again.
This time, however, the National Championship Game wasn’t the one that’s causing all the bickering. Alabama and Texas, both undefeated and both from power conferences, deserve to battle for the title in Pasadena on January 7.
The Rose Bowl, with its matchup of the Pac-10 champion and Big 10 champion, is also immune from this year’s controversy, with Oregon taking on the often-maligned Ohio State Buckeyes, losers of more BCS games than anyone would care to count.
The real issue this year lies with the other three games: the Orange, Fiesta, and Sugar Bowls. Each one of these contests had the potential to yield great matchups. High-flying offenses airing it out on the south coast of Florida. Two teams often criticized for their weak schedules getting their opportunity to step onto the gridiron to face off with the big boys of the BCS conferences.
The BCS had an opportunity to make everyone happy this year, to quell the anger and resentment that it so often produces.
But just like a receiver looking ahead before he reels in a pass, the BCS dropped the ball.
The three matchups in question may not look terrible on paper. The Fiesta Bowl certainly can’t be argued with too much, pitting two undefeated teams against one another. There are the little things, however, that make these games much less watchable and intriguing than they would have been had the BCS gotten them right.
Here’s my take on what these games should have been:
Actual Orange Bowl: Iowa vs. Georgia Tech
Should Have Been: Cincinnati vs. Georgia Tech
Last year’s Orange Bowl was a joke of a football game. 8-4 Virginia Tech took on 11-1 Cincinnati in a game that bored the pants off of all 9.3 million viewers that tuned in.
This year, the Orange Bowl had a great opportunity to make itself a must watch contest. If they had picked the correct matchup and pitted the Yellow Jackets and Bearcats against each other, we would have been in for an offensive slugfest for the ages.
These two teams put up points like it’s nobody’s business, and neither one of them has a particularly stout defense. In fact, in its last game, Georgia Tech made Clemson look like an offensive juggernaut, and Cincinnati’s defense nearly lost them the game against Pittsburgh before the halftime whistle had sounded.
Imagine the 1999 St. Louis Rams tangling with the 2007 New England Patriots. That’s the kind of firepower that these two offenses have, and the Orange Bowl would have gone from BCS afterthought to the most entertaining of the five matchups in an instant.
Pitting Iowa’s stout defense against the Yellow Jackets may seem like a football purist’s dream, but a Georgia Tech/Cincinnati bout would bring in the regular Joes as well.
This is not meant as an affront to Hawkeye fans, but when your team loses two of its final three games, it’s fair to say that you may not deserve to be in a BCS bowl game.
Actual Fiesta Bowl: TCU vs. Boise State
Should Have Been: Penn State vs. Boise State
Now, I’m all for the idea that two undefeated teams can square off and make for an entertaining football game. The big beef that I have with this matchup is that both teams suffer from the same knock: that they don’t play enough quality competition to warrant playing for a national championship.
The question then becomes this: how does playing another mid-major program in a bowl game validate you in any way? Shouldn’t the team have to face off against a BCS-conference school in order to shut up all of these skeptics?
The answer to the second question is a resounding yes, and if Boise State was to be put against a program as revered as Penn State’s is and win, it would go a long way to once again establishing that the denizens of the Smurf Turf belong with the big boys.
In addition, which team do you think would draw more attention and fanfare to the desert Southwest: Joe Paterno’s Nittany Lions or the Kirk Ferentz-led Hawkeyes? It’s not even close: Joe Pa in a landslide.
Actual Sugar Bowl: Florida vs. Cincinnati
Should Have Been: Florida vs. TCU
Besides the obvious fact that Tim Tebow and the Gators are likely going to annihilate the defense-less Bearcats with their potent offensive attack, there is something to be said for a hypothetical game featuring the Gators against the Horned Frogs of TCU.
It would have been one of those great underrated struggles: In Tebow’s final game, he would have to face down a squad that has one of the best defenses in the country.
TCU has been a defensive dynamo for the better part of two seasons now, and a date against the vaunted Florida offense would have provided the ultimate chance at validation on the national stage.
Gone would be the skeptics who railed on and on about how the Frogs didn’t face a single quality team this season.
Can you imagine the statement that would have been made if TCU had somehow managed to upset Florida, thereby ruining Tebow’s departure and cementing the Frogs’ status as a force to be reckoned with nationally?
I guess we'll never know.