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When the matchup was initially announced, I was full of righteous indignation (i.e. ANGAR), and vowed not to watch the game because I have principles, darnit. Of course, I simply could not do that out my obsessive compulsion to watch any college football while there's still time, but in retrospect I sort wish that I had carried out my ultimately meaningless protest. The unfortunate thing is that anyone has to protest at all. The fact that a team was allowed to play for the mythical national championship game despite not winning their conference or their own division is just simply stunning. Was Alabama the best team this year? There's a very good chance that they are. The first game wasn't exactly a smashing victory for the Tigers; if Alabama's kickers don't fall ill with a case of Gingellitis, they win that game.
But, they didn't. Every season, the landscape of college football is littered with contests in which one team wins that probably shouldn't, where one team gets dominated statistically (see: 2012 Sugar Bowl) or is the benefactor of Lady Luck. The only difference here is that game was between the two ostensibly "best" teams in the nation, as opposed to, say, something relatively meaningless by comparison, like NC State inexplicably beating Clemson when they weren't yet Clemson or LSU destroying Oregon while riding the humble pack mule known as turnovers or Indiana beating the mighty Bulldogs...of South Carolina State (sorry IU...that was unnecessarily mean).
The only reasonable reaction that someone that isn't an Alabama fan can have is that the system is flawed, and in a reasonable world it would be on its death bed receiving its last rites. Unfortunately, a roiling gumbo pot of money and convenience has precluded the advent of a playoff system, much like the existence of oil has necessarily retarded the development of alternative energies. None of this is novel or yet unexpressed more comprehensively elsewhere, but it's clear that the People In Charge are either: a) stupid or b) enjoying the enjoying the status quo of pecuniary convenience despite the fact that a playoff would probably rain pools of money that Scrooge McDuck would quack at in envy.
Say what you will about the pre-BCS Bowl Alliance, but it least it didn't attempt to do the impossible. All of the aforementioned aside, this is a pretty simple debate. The BCS attempts to put the two "best" teams on the field after a 12-game season (13 for some) featuring vastly different schedules and a brand of sport that regularly sees teams lose or win games for ridiculous reasons, reasons that don't ultimately make a team great or terrible or less "deserving" in light of the rest of their season (especially considering the emphases placed on when you lose). As such, this is an impossible task. The only reasonable thing to do is to have a scenario play out that crowns a "champion." This is a subtle distinction but really, is it so subtle when EVERY OTHER SPORT is doing it? "But this is college football, every game matters!" says person who is probably 12 and hasn't yet discovered that everything isn't so clear cut and rosy and that sometimes McDonald's employees at the drive-through window forget to include an item in your order and, protip, they don't care about that lost McChicken that you will never get to eat because you hastily drove away, your faith in people foolishly limitless. Yes, every game matters, guys.
Will anything change anytime soon? Probably not, but if you asked me a few years ago that Nebraska would be playing Big Ten football, the Rich Rodriguez era would do down like the Hindenberg, and two teams from the same conference would be playing for the crystal football, I would've thought you a crazy, crazy person indeed. Like The Simpsons ending, it could happen but it probably won't anytime soon.
Until then, I guess we could just, you know, enjoy the games and/or life. That's your cue to voraciously consume everything on Wolverine Historian's Youtube channel until 9/1.
Game Bullets/Why Bother AT LEAST THE BOWL ALLIANCE WAS AN ETHOS:
- The Les Miles Mystique--Severely tarnished to say the least. Everybody knows that Les isn't an Xs and Os guy like Saban is, but his ability to just win baby, regardless of the Louisianan voodoo it entailed, had become legendary; another grind-it-out win last night would've cemented himself in the pantheon of all-time legendary coaches. This game for Les was sort of like a little kid figuring out that the "saw a woman in half" trick is but a clever ruse; you find out there's another person in the other box and then you start to wonder if everything else out there isn't real. I'm not saying that Saban is going to get Les Urban'd, but this definitely pokes a hole in Les's and LSU's aura of of Forrest Gumpish invincibility.
- Jordan Jefferson Is Very Very Bad--Wow. Just wow. People were discussing this after the game, but has there ever been a worse 4-year starter than JJ? Some people say Reggie Ball was...okay, he was pretty bad. It's simply amazing that, throughout all the
oversigningridiculous recruiting classes in Baton Rouge, LSU's options were Jordan Jefferson, Jarrett "Pick Six" Lee, and an UGA transfer. Also, that chest pass interception has to surpass Reggie Bush's pitch in the Rose Bowl as the stupidest, most ill-timed mistake in a title game ever, right? His body language after the mistake was positively Cutler-esque, but at least Cutler has the excuse of a sieve of an offensive line and group of receivers that are all #3 options at best. At that point, I thought a change would have to happen, but it didn't. I saw rumors of "missed classes" being bandied about vis-a-vis Lee not entering the game (which, FWIW, excuse me if I have to LOL at the concept of an SEC football player missing a national championship game on those grounds), but Miles's post-game presser made no reference to it. He basically said that he didn't think it would be fair to stick Lee in to face that Bama pass rush, which I guess is a considerate gesture to Lee's skeletal system. Still, you have to make a change, and although Les admirably put the decision to not make one squarely on his shoulders in his entirely depressing presser, it was an enormous blunder. Would they have won with Lee in the game? Probably not, but quite frankly, JJ is not that dynamic of a runner, and that's not even mentioning the fact that he seemingly does not know how to run the option, one of LSU's staple plays, in game 14 of the season.
- Play Calling Derp That Isn't About Borges--I just don't understand the gameplan on the part of LSU OC Greg Studrawa. There was almost literally zero attempt to challenge Alabama downfield, even after LSU's option game, standard power attack, and that weird straight back toss play were consistently stoned. Obviously, attempting to decide which Alabama defensive group to attack is about as easy as deciding which Medieval torture device is the least unpleasant, but still...come on. COME ON. I've never been as angry at the tactical decisions of a game not involving Michigan as this one. Everybody, including myself, had seemed to fall into the trap of "oh, LSU might not do things on offense but they will MAKE PLAYS and so they will win." Yes, Tyrann Mathieu is pretty good, even after this performance, but expecting guys to score points on defense or special teams does not an offense make. And yet, LSU somehow managed to average 38.5 points per game. They had the #17 rushing offense and the #12 scoring offense. They weren't flashy, but believe it or not they were scoring points--usually a lot of them--behind a quality OL and a strong battering ram of a running game. Reuben Randle isn't exactly chopped liver on the outside either. This speaks to: a) the horrendousness of LSU's quarterbacking and b) the indomitable wall that is the Alabama defense. The second can't be emphasized enough; this Alabama defense will go down as one of the best of all time.
- Russell Shepard...Remember Him?--This is him after the game. He was once a highly touted QB recruit that was eventually turned into a wide receiver. As an outsider, Shepard's usage--or lack thereof--has been somewhat of a mystery to me, and is definitely a strike at Les's/his QB coach's ability to develop quarterbacks.
- And The National Champion Is?--The fact that people are even asking this says it all. Unfortunately, I don't see how you could give it to LSU at this point after that showing, despite having a much better resume than the Crimson Tide. If the Tigers had made it a game--heck, even scoring any number of points might've done it--then I think people would be justified in voting the Tigers in at the top, but...they didn't. C'est la vie.
- Here's Where This Circles Back To, Yes, Us--It's hard not to come away a little concerned about the showdown against Alabama this September. Naturally, the game is many moons away, and we will all mentally work ourselves up to a "WOOO WE'RE GONNA KILL THOSE OVERSIGNING RUFFIANS" state of mind by then, but that doesn't mean it will be a logical thing to do. This is obviously a way-too-early look at a game that I won't even begin to consider until the shock of going 11-2 has subsided, but even if Alabama's worst case scenario re: NFL departures happen, I don't feel confident that we can match up at a lot of places on the field. Additionally, while oversigning is indeed a terrible thing, it does us no use to complain about it because nothing about the elephant in the room that is oversigning will change between now and then, and, also, it just sort of makes us look bad. In any case, assuming Richardson is gone, Eddie Lacy is a back that could probably start at a lot of places right now. Plus, they recently got a commitment from 5-star back T.J. Yeldon. Of course, they still have Dee Hart, and, yeah...I'll stop there. Similar statements could be made about other position groups with outgoing stars. Losing guys like Molk, Van Bergen, and Martin really, really does not bode well for us being able to execute any sort of offensive or defensive strategy. Alabama's defense will be Virginia Tech's on steroids, both personnel-wise and schematically. With that said, Brady Hoke et al just finished squeezing 11 wins out of a young, not considerably talented, and thin roster. There'll be time to worry later, but for now, Hoke Springs Eternal.