VOL. 127 | NO. 229 | Thursday, November 22, 2012
The Press Box
Chaos Reigns as Bowl Championship Series Picture Unfolds
By Don Wade
Chaos. That’s the word, apparently the only word, to describe the current state of the Bowl Championship Series. I know this because last Sunday, after a bloody Saturday in which No. 1 Kansas State and No. 2 Oregon both lost, I performed the ultimate modern-day “scientific” test: I Googled “BCS” and “chaos” and got 3,620,000 results.
From USA Today: “Notre Dame tops BCS standings, but chaos not far behind.”
From The New York Times: “A stunning one-two punch throws the BCS into chaos.”
From … well, you get the idea. All that time spent arguing about how three presumably undefeated teams – K-State, Oregon and Notre Dame – would shake out into the most deserving two participants in a national title game has been rendered just so much breath wasted.
“Everything you thought you knew about the 2012 title race has been turned upside down,” Stewart Mandel wrote on SI.com.
Not to mention sideways and inside out. See, a funny thing happened when Johnny Football and Texas A&M went into Tuscaloosa and beat Alabama. Everyone assumed, despite what happened just a year ago, that Alabama – and the SEC – was finally done.
After all, what did everyone outside of SEC country fear most? A repeat of last season and an all-SEC national championship game. While that’s still not anywhere close to the most likely scenario, USA Today’s George Schroeder aptly wrote that “the prospect for a second consecutive all-SEC showdown isn’t at all far-fetched.”
But what’s most likely is still pretty disgusting to the rest of the country: the opportunity for a seventh straight SEC team to be crowned national champions.
The short version of where things stand now: If now-BCS No. 1 Notre Dame wins at USC the Irish go to the national title game. If BCS No. 2 Alabama beats Auburn and BCS No. 3 Georgia takes care of Georgia Tech, then those two meet in the SEC title game the next week in Atlanta and the winner, with one loss on the resume, gets a shot at Notre Dame and the national championship.
There are other scenarios and if Notre Dame loses at USC and BSC No. 4 Florida beats Florida State that could result in a Florida vs. Alabama/Georgia match-up in the national title game. If that were to happen, the air would go out of every football north of Dixie.
“SEC football is the best football in the country,” said first-year Ole Miss Coach Hugh Freeze. “Everyone’s partial, but we’re the only ones to win six straight national championship games. I’d like to see us represented in a seventh.”
And yes, Freeze is more partial than most. But when he says of the SEC, “It’s as tough a grind as any conference in the country top-to-bottom,” he’s right.
So maybe, just maybe, what lies before us now is not chaos at all. Maybe it’s just a needed re-calibration. After what Baylor did to Kansas State, can we believe the Wildcats would have gone this deep into a SEC schedule without one or more losses? After Oregon lost at home to Stanford and the Ducks’ vaunted offense was grounded, are we to presume they would have come through an SEC schedule with every feather still in place?
No, what we have now makes far more sense than what we had a week ago. For it’s likely that we will have a Notre Dame vs. SEC national title game. Reputation vs. Reputation, winner take all.
That’s not chaos. That’s a return to the natural order of things.
Don Wade’s column appears weekly in The Daily News and The Memphis News. He and Jon Albright host the Jon & Don Show on Sports 56 AM and 87.7 FM from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays.