As I said last night over email with some friends, Alabama clearly outplayed LSU in Game 2. LSU did not show this level of domination in their Game 1 win over Alabama. I think that Alabama has more than adequately made the case that, in a 1-1 tie, they are the better team on aggregate.
We will never know what would happen if there was a rubber match and no one on either side should make claims about it. Additionally, given that nothing in the BCS rules says that if two teams meet during the regular season and then again in the Championship game, the winner will be the one with a higher score on aggregate, it’s not even appropriate for people to make the case that Alabama is the national champion better on aggregate. It’s not the system that we exist in. No, Alabama is the national champion because the BCS rankings said they were #2 in the country and therefore deserved to play for the championship.
The point that you can’t blame Alabama for getting to the Championship game and winning is correct, as Alabama won on the system they are in. The system is different from the the game of football. It’s what the colleges have agreed to, but it doesn’t actually control things like the value of a field goal or a touchdown. That’s the game.
The Bama/LSU rematch raised two fundamental and different questions:
1. What will most accurately determine the best team in the country?
2. What is a fair system?
Heading into last night’s game, the only way to assume that a Bama win would accurately mark them as the best team in the country is if what in fact happened last night were to occur – namely for Bama to thoroughly route LSU. But a system which says one team beating the other doesn’t count and the reverse happening does is not a fundamentally fair or just system. Though it may be decades before this situation emerges again, I’d love to see the BCS add a rubber game in the event that two teams which met during the regular season or conference championships an odd number of times would be ensured the chance to have one team get a lead in wins for the season before determining a champion.
A playoff would be an even more just and accurate system. While OSU/Bama this coming weekend would be a great game, that would have been a better game last week (up against LSU/Standford). Instead, we end the season with three one-loss teams. Two of those teams are 1-1 against each other and the third didn’t get a chance to see if it was better or worse than the other two.
OSU lost the opportunity to play in the championship game when they lost as close game to Iowa State. Like Bama’s loss to LSU, OSU lost because of missing makable field goals. Of course, this game happened on a Friday night, hours after a plane crash killed two OSU women’s basketball coaches. The team played in shock and it was clear from anyone close to Oklahoma that the game just wasn’t something that was considered as important as the death of people very close to the football program. In a just world, the game would have been delayed at least a day or two to honor the loss. In either case, the OSU football team didn’t play to their level and were beat by an inferior team – something that could also be said now of Bama losing to LSU.
I don’t think there’s any real knock on Bama here. Bama won in the system they exist in and their defense was impressive last night, regardless of the level of their opponents. But I think that there are genuine questions about whether either Bama or LSU is better than OSU, questions that this system will prevent us from ever answering. As impressive as Bama’s defense was last night, it’s impossible to assume that they’d look as impressive against the one of the most high-powered offenses in college football. Likewise, it’s impossible to assume that OSU would be able to outmatch Bama’s defense.
But more likely, the argument we should be having is whether OSU could have outplayed LSU, as no one was doubting that LSU was the #1 team in the country going into last night. And that is probably the best reason to push for a playoff – because if Bama had been denied another shot at LSU, they would not have beaten a team that we now know they can in fact beat.
So, to recap, congrats to Bama for beating LSU in the rematch and completely undressing them in the process. And let’s get rid of this shitty system as soon as possible.