From The Bleachers

This year’s penultimate Auburn football column is (finally) up, over at my site, covering the SEC Championship Game. There are also a few words about the media “championship” awards.

UPDATE: Auburn convert Fred Barnes has a very nice column about the Tigers on the Weekly Standard’s site this week.


27 Responses to “From The Bleachers”

  1. Mike M Says:

    The BCS has managed to make itself the worst of both worlds. It somehow manages to both deemphasize successful teams and conference champions at the same time.

    March Madness can do both because with a 64 team bracket you can account for all the conference champs and the rest of the good teams. 8 is nowhere near enough for the BCS.

    Should Pitt and VT be in the BCS because they won their conferences? I guess, but what about all other other 1-A conferences? Just the “big” conferences should be in? Great, so why is the Big East still represented after their two best teams left? Should Texas be in the BCS even though they didn’t win their conference? They’re good…but Cal was better and they’re out.

    The BCS really *is* nothing but a scam to funnel money into the big football schools. If they wanted a true championship series, either forget the conference championships entirely and give spots to the best teams, or make it exclusive to all 1-A conference champs. All they’re doing now is sucking any remaining tradition, dignity, and integrity out of the game.

    Oh and Will? you know the solution. Start a blogger media consortium and name Auburn the champs if they win.

  2. Niall Says:

    Well all love to argue. If we didn’t, would we blog? No.

    So I argue that the BCS is a terrible thing and that what we had before was the right solution. Not a playoff but the old tried and true bowl system with two polls so we have no real answer other than our own.

    Let us review. This would give us

    1> USC Michigan in the Rose
    2> Texas Utah in the Fiesta
    3> Auburn Virginia Tech in the Sugar
    4> OU vs Cal

    or some approximation. This then gives us the chanse to have all the teams try for a final win and a shot at some marking in the poll and, more important to us fans, braging rights for next year.

    A playoff would at best take the top four. Sorry Cal. This then meens that out of the four top teams, only one will end the season with a victory. What if its Texas (go horns)? Texas lost to OU. Can the really be the best team given the know rule of college football that any team can win on any given weenend? For that matter is the winner of the NCAA basketball tournament the best team in the nation that year? Its a little more clear cut as we have more games played in a season, but vitory by everyones favorite cinderella story is really just another way of cushening the fact that that system doesn’t work.

    I say we need to get rid of the entire idea of a definitive single football champ. Muddy the waters again and let us, the fans for whom the whole thing SHOULD be played, argue over beers (and blogs) again.

  3. denise Says:

    From Will’s column: “The press, which invented and feeds off the polls, hates to admit this, but there’s no such thing as a ‘national championship’ in college football, and there never has been.”

    Can we add “and there never will be”?

    I have said since 1/1/98 that the BCS system would not work, and it hasn’t. At the time, most people seemed to think that a Michigan-or-Nebraska controversy* would never happen again because we would have a championship game. I never believed that the system would go more than 2 years before someone complained that the deserving champion wasn’t allowed to play that game.

    Have a four-team playoff, and the 5th team is upset. (After all, the NCAA basketball tournament has been won by a 2 or lower seed 4 of the last 10 years.) You also either have the problem of having football go another week, or eliminating a regular season game, and part of the problem with a tournament set-up is that there are too few regular season games to make meaningful selections.

    So, I agree with Niall, and I think with Will, that we should all just give up the notion of a national NCAA football championship and go back to the good old bowl days, and just enjoy New Years Day.

    * I come down firmly on the side of Michigan in that controversy (and not because my brother was their student trainer that year). I really think Tom Osborn’s retirement announcement won him the coaches’ poll. Besides a team that barely escaped a loss to Missouri (and only because of an illegal play) is not the national champion.

  4. Will Collier Says:

    I would prefer a 16-team playoff with a selection committee, a la the basketball tournament. Lacking that, I’d settle for eight teams, with the five major conference champions (no, Big Least, you are not a major conference) and three at-large bids, again, selected by an NCAA committee, not by sportswriters or “computer rankings”.

  5. Ron Says:

    At the very least, the conference tie-ins to specific bowls should be eliminated. That would do nothing to help Auburn this year, but it would spare us all the travesty of seeing Pitt playing in a BCS bowl while Cal has to sit out.

  6. denise Says:

    Will, with a 16-team playoff, there are three options (that I see. Wondering which one you prefer, of if there’s something else you see that I’m missing:

    1. Extend the college football season to end of January;
    2. Eliminate 3 regular season games; or
    3. Eliminate 1 regular season game, and have the playoff over 2 weeks with teams playing 2 games/week.

  7. denise Says:

    Okay 4:Have the playoff over 2 weeks, 2 games/week, without eliminating a regular season game by either starting Christmas week or ending around 1/8.

  8. Ron Says:


    Or you could eliminate the waiting period between the end of the regular season and the bowls and use that time to conduct a real playoff system.

    The idea that there is not enough time to have playoffs currently is ludicrous. Look at how long the basketball tournament lasts (and it’s proximity to the regualr season), and also at how Div. 1-AA works.

    The current system, especially the conference tie-ins to the bowls & BCS, are driven entirely by greed.

    My earlier suggestion is simply yhe most immediately realistic & feasible way to assure that #1 plays #2, #3 vs. #4, etc. It’s far from a perfect fix, but it is at least foreseeable.

  9. Dave Says:

    Sorry Will, but Pat “Tie” Dye caused me to harbor a grudge against Auburn since 1988. So much for a perfect season.

  10. Will Collier Says:

    Denise, the other divisions don’t have any problems getting 16-game playoffs in by Christmas. 1-A could use the same schedule, and even add an open date, and still have the final game New Year’s Day weekend.

    That said, it’ll never happen. I’m willing to hold out hope for an 8-team, 3-week playoff, at best, but I doubt there will ever be a 16-team series.

  11. Rocketeer67 Says:

    no, Big Least, you are not a major conference

    Not yet, Will. Not until Louisville joins next year.

  12. Deacon Blues Says:

    I’m just glad I don’t have to listen to “The best didn’t win the first tim, we beat ourselves” any more. I did hear “If it haden’t been for 2 penalties” but then I could counter “If it hadn’t been for a fumbled punt snap, a questionable interception in the end zone, and a fumble in the 3rd quarter” and they all shut up. Ah, the trials of living in East Tennessee.

  13. denise Says:

    Will, thanks for the clarification.

    The idea of a 16-team college football playoff leaves me cold. However, I acknowledge that it’s at least partly because I really don’t like college football much to begin with.

    Chalk that up to being a Kansas alum. If I were an Auburn gal, I grant that I might feel differently.

  14. Bloggledygook Says:

    BREAKING: Will Collier uses the word “penultimate.” World awaits a final column.

    While Stephen Green self medicates, Will Collier shills for his own self and everybody gets down to discussing something that I think might be football.

  15. pianoman Says:

    My $0.02:

    1) Revert the bowl games back to what they were before all this craziness began;

    2) Use the results from the bowls as part of the BCS rating system;

    3) Top four teams go to the BCS. Two week playoff.

    Yes, the #5 would bitch and complain. But that is a LOT better than what we have now, which is USC getting punked last year, and Auburn getting it this year.

    If the number of games played is a problem (“they’re students!!! they have to study!!! OMG OMG OMG!!!”), then whack one game off the team schedules across the board. This would result in the finals being a single extra game — which, I think everyone would agree, is perfectly reasonable for determining a national champion.

    So how would this work this year? From Niall’s post above:

    1> USC Michigan in the Rose
    2> Texas Utah in the Fiesta
    3> Auburn Virginia Tech in the Sugar
    4> OU vs Cal

    The only team in the upper ranks of the BCS that isn’t in this list is Georgia. I think it’s safe to say that there isn’t a single non-partisan fan in the U.S. claiming that Georgia should get a shot at the BCS title.

    No matter who wins the above games, you’ve got a clean slate of #1-#4. If the games follow the BCS, then your four finalists are USC, OU, Auburn, and Texas. If Cal beats OU, they replace OC in the top 4. If Utah beats Texas and Cal loses, then the poll would determine whether Cal gets in. Same thing if USC loses and Cal loses.

    Two stadiums are picked in advance from the premiere bowl stadiums for the final games. Let’s say those stadiums are Orange Bowl and Rose Bowl. Your tournament would look like this:

    #1 USC vs. #4 Texas @ Orange Bowl
    #2 OU vs. #3 Auburn @ Rose Bowl

    National Championship @ Orange Bowl

    Under this kind of scenario, you still get your national champion, and the bowls retain their tradition. Plus, as more bowls are created, more opportunities for different stadiums’ selection to be BCS bowl stadiums arise.

    The biggest problem with this scenario is with the team that loses its bowl game but still goes to the Big Dance. Let’s say USC loses to Michigan, but still gets that #4 spot. That would burn the #5 team. But again, this is far superior to the current system, in which BCS executives hope and pray that one of the top three teams loses a game in the final few weeks of the regular season.

  16. Mark Says:

    As a disinterested observer (my two teams are Indiana and Kentucky, and all we care about is basketball season, for obvious reasons), I suggest this: Every major college football school leaves the NCAA and starts over again.

    Every single one. Tell the money-men to screw off, the bowls to do the same. Create your own system, ally yourself as farm teams for the NFL, and be done with it.

    It’s not like SEC fans will stop going to games (or, for that matter, Big Ten, et. al.) You could also bring in some venture capitalists to figure out how to make money off of a true playoff system.

    As it is, no one’s happy and the BCS decides nothing that anyone can agree upon.

  17. Niall Says:

    I keep seeing a 16 team playoff. Bad idea. One of the things that makes college football so great is the Bowl season. Yeah no one watches some of them other than the teams supporters but still, being at UTEP and going to the Houston bowl is a BIG DEAL. With all the money and attention going to a playoff the Bowls would wither and die or all become as important to people who’s team is in them as the NIT is for basketball.

    College sports is not and should not be all about who is number one. It should be about athelics and supporting your school, be that a contender or not.

  18. Tom D Says:

    Congrats on a great season.

    On the other hand, in their last two games, they had to come from behind against a barely .500 team playing an injured third string quarterback and second team running backs, and then a less than overwhelming win over a team that Kentucky pushed to the limit the previous week. They had a chance to make their case in those last two games, but gave folks not inclined to vote for them an excuse not to.

  19. Will Collier Says:

    The press made up its mind in August who they wanted to see play in the Orange Bowl. Auburn could have beaten the ’85 Bears by 50, and it wouldn’t have changed the outcome of the polls.

  20. Will Collier Says:

    “Excuse,” BTW, is exactly the right word to describe the press’s “rationales” for the poll votes this year. There are no style points in football.

  21. Mike M Says:

    “Lacking that, I’d settle for eight teams, with the five major conference champions (no, Big Least, you are not a major conference) and three at-large bids,”

    I don’t know Will…Louisville could probably kick the snot out of Virginia Tech and give any other conference champ a run for its money. How about Utah? The fearful BCS made sure to stick them with the booby prize “Big” East opponent in a game where they have nothing to gain and will be sure not to contend for a share of the national title.

    I still think you either have to make all Div 1-A conferences and their champions equally important or equally meaningless.

    Penalizing successful schools for the crimes of not being sufficiently hyped, succeeding without blue chip recruits, or not playing on national TV every week is a stupid way to handle the sport and an insult to the players.

    It also encourages conference raiding (who will the Big East try to snatch so they can keep their legitimacy and automatic BCS spot? Louisville? Marshall?) and destruction of what little tradition is left in college football.

    Yeah, in case you couldn’t tell I want to a MAC school.

  22. HokiePundit Says:

    From what I hear, Auburn fans are some of the nicest around, and will be a welcome change from the Miami (FL) fans I encountered last week. Good luck to Auburn, and may the best school with a confusing, possibly avian mascot win!

  23. pianoman Says:


    I know you’re bitter, but you need to try and remain rational. If OU or USC had lost their last games of the year, Auburn would be in the Orange Bowl. And if Auburn turns in another perfect season next year, they will almost certainly be invited to the big dance.

    This is exactly what happened to USC. They were punked last year, and this year they knew they had to run the table to get a shot at the national championship.

    Side note: How long before some of the lower level colleges sue the NCAA because they have no chance at a national title?

  24. Will Collier Says:

    I could give a crap what the polls say, personally. I’m not impressed by the opinions of a bunch of newspaper employees. I haven’t taken them seriously since 1983, and didn’t take them very seriously even before that. But it’s still spitting in that team’s face to say (as most of the press has said, explicitly or not), “Nah, we made our decision in the preseason, and there’s no way in hell we’re going to admit that we were wrong all year.”

  25. Tom D Says:


    Seeing how Walter Payton has passed away, and most of the rest of the ’85 Bears are old fat guys, a 50 pt win over them would indeed not do much for Auburns ranking. Beating the spread over a mediocre Alabama team, on the other hand, might have.

  26. Will Collier Says:

    Perfect example of press excuses. USC got pushed right to the wall by a terrible Stanford team, and damn near lost (missed the spread by about 30 points) to a UCLA team that would have a hard time finishing 9th in the SEC. Funny, but the press didn’t go out of its way to point out those games as examples of why USC ought to lose votes on “style points.”

    Oklahoma’s entire standing is based on winning exactly one game–and as a Texas graduate, I’m here to tell you, beating a Mack Brown team isn’t impressive. The rest of the Big Two, Little Ten is a joke (and not a funny one).

  27. denise Says:

    “The rest of the Big Two, Little Ten is a joke (and not a funny one).”

    That’s the truth. And the fact that my Jayhawks came close to beating Texas doesn’t help.

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