BCS Shun Possible

It seems unfathomable. Two consecutive seasons. Two SEC teams – from the same state, no less – go undefeated. And neither of them get a legit shot at college football's national championship.

It could happen – easily – within the state of Alabama's borders this year.

And you thought Alabama and Auburn fans have nothing in common.

The Tigers and their fans whined last winter after 13-0 brought them no closer to a national championship than they'd been since 1957.

Alabama fans lobbed "little brother" jokes at them, thinking they'd never find themselves in such a frustrating position.

Yet, here it is, 10 months later, and the Crimson Tide is in almost exactly the same situation.

Unbeaten heading into Saturday's game against Mississippi State with a decent shot at keeping it that way through New Year's Day.

And no real chance at a national title, unless several things which are totally out of its own control happen.

For once, Alabama feels Auburn's pain.

They know the enemy. It is not Virginia Tech. It is not Southern Cal, or even Texas.

It is the Bowl Championship Series, a fundamentally flawed system which will keep Division I-A college football locked in the Dark Ages for as long as it is alive.

Don't blame ESPN (well, at least not completely).

Blame a system which relies on polls that, by their very nature, have their pecking order set at season's outset and typically changed only when a team loses.

This system favors teams like Southern Cal and Texas, programs which begin the season at the center of their rivals' bulls-eyes as the nation's best teams.

All they have to do is win.

And that isn't easy – just ask Pete Carroll where his stomach was as Matt Leinart twisted for that final quarterback sneak against Notre Dame – but it certainly makes winning a title much easier.

Start the season off the radar – as Auburn did last year and Alabama did a few months ago – and finishing the year in the BS – oops, I mean BCS – title game is nearly impossible. Not only do you have to finish the season perfectly, but the perfect sequence of things must go your way if you want to hoist the BCS trophy above your head come Jan. 3.

It's a complete abomination, although I suppose Southern Cal fans enjoy it.

But you have to wonder if they'll consider another BCS national title as worthy if they're one of at least three unbeaten teams still standing on Jan. 4.

As it stands, if the five unbeaten teams (Southern Cal, Texas, Virginia Tech, Alabama and UCLA) hold serve the rest of the way, there are only two guaranteed matchups between unbeatens through the bowl season.

One would come on Dec. 3: USC vs. UCLA in the regular season finale.

The other would likely come between USC and Texas in the Rose Bowl.

No matter what happens, there could be as many as three unbeatens left after bowl season – USC, Texas or Virginia Tech, as well as Alabama and UCLA.

It's an embarrassing scenario, one that should provoke the powers that be to blow up the BCS and replace it with an eight-team playoff system which could determine a true champion.

Of course, it won't happen. BCS conferences make far too much money from the bowl system the way it is, and so do the bowls themselves

Bowls wouldn't be hurt by a playoff – 85 percent of bowl games are largely irrelevant now anyway – but BCS leagues would be forced to dip into their pockets and share the money with their lessers, as well as the NCAA.

The chances of that happening are about as good as Tommy Gallion getting Phil Fulmer on a witness stand in Tuscaloosa.

So we'll likely continue with the BCS as is, its masters gussying it up with a cosmetic tweak each year aimed at shutting up its critics.

Meanwhile, college football will just keep shooting itself in the foot, minus a true champion and victim of its own excesses.

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