With under a minute left to play, Notre Dame Head Coach Ara Parsegian chose to run a QB dive instead of passing downfield for a possible Field Goal to preserve what he thought would at least catapult him and the Fighting Irish to a possible National Championship. It worked. That year the Irish won the AP poll and were voted number one.
Fast forward to January 1984 in Miami, Florida. It was shortly after midnight when the final moments of a classic game, one that has been called the best collegiate game ever played between upstart 4th ranked Miami and critically acclaimed Nebraska, UN coach Tom Osborne faced a decision. A decision to go for the tie or try for a two-point play in a 31-30 game was what weighed on his mind. Would they grasp a Championship by backing into it or go for all of it. On the sidelines, as Jeff Smith dove in off a 4th and 8 play from Miami's 24 to make the score 31-30 Miami with :48 seconds remaining, Osborne was already calling what he thought was a winning play. It came up short as a pass was batted away off the outstretched hands of the Nebraska receiver. Ironically #2,and #5 lost that day to give Miami the championship.
Two games. Both games had decidedly different outcomes, but were the same with national title implications. This year has been no different, but it has been stranger. The undefeated Hurricanes aside, the rush to be number two has been deafening. No one has taken charge and in fact the race to fall to 3, 4 or 5 was almost comical. The irony was that any of those teams was deserving, as was Pac 10 Champion Oregon who finished #2 in the AP and ESPN human polls, to play for the championship against #1. The cry has been for a playoff. Well, it won't be happening. Well, not yet anyway. The BCS is entrenched until 2006 and any call for a playoff is premature at best.
What is wrong is so multitudinous that to try and break it down into little parts would fill an almanac. What can be done is a matter of ideals and ideas in dealing with college football. Certainly the overriding fear is that a playoff will cause more class time to be missed. This argument is like the chain emails that pervade cyber-space lately. Send in your $5 to these 5 people and later you'll receive $15, 649.47. Trust me. It works. I tried it. What is true is that any playoff would run into finals weeks, and while that would potentially hurt the players attempts to qualify for a Rhodes scholarship, with the tutors that are given to collegiate athletes these days, nobody really fears that Frank Smith at 6'6", 320, as an OT is going to do much worse than the 2.4 stellar GPA he carries now in Arts Management classes.
What is the real problem however, are the attitudes and traditions of college football. This years Rose Bowl hosts Miami and Nebraska. They are two of college footballs finest traditions. The Rose people don't think that they are good enough to play in their bowl game. Rather, what they really think is that the Midwesterners and South Beach people will be driving up in limos proclaiming on cell phones "Honey, guess where I am right now?" One Rose official is quoted as saying that if the Rose hosted Miami AND Florida that he would be somewhere in Europe far away from a TV. Such snobbery is rare in America. Enjoy it for what it's worth.
These attitudes pervade an arrogance of Big versus Little. Chuck Rohe, the outgoing chairman of the Florida Citrus bowl was asked about the mess that was the BCS this season and his reply, while succinct, was one of almost profound depression "…its what we have this year." A resignation to a continued mediocrity is not what the nations greatest game deserves. As Emeril Legase would proclaim, "Let's kick it up a notch." But Roy Kramer will hear none of it. Why should he?
The SEC will have the University of Florida playing Maryland in the Orange Bowl in Miami. Estimated payout per team is around $12 to $13 million. LSU is playing in the Sugar bowl as winner of the SEC Championship game. Payout is $13 million again. Both games will sell out. Bowls are big business to the SEC.
Roy Kramer is also the founder of the system called the Bowl Championship Series. It is neither a Championship in legitimate terms, nor is it s series. However, the SEC will be a beneficiary of almost $32 million in bowl revenues and that is why it stays in place. Follow the money. For the BCS to actually be anything it says it is is to have 3 of the 4 games actually mean something. Only one has any meaning and unless an upset of 1984 proportions occurs, this system will only gain further entrenchment.
When asked about the Citrus Bowl partaking in a real Bowl Championship Series, Rohe was non-committal and yet open to the idea of his game being more than just an exhibition between 2 conference also-rans. When asked to imagine a mid to late December game between BCS #4 Florida and #12 Virginia Tech for the opportunity to go to the Semi-finals, his answer was "that would be an intriguing game wouldn't it?" Of course it would. Chuck Rohe knows that maintaining the appeasement of the Football Gods is paramount, so he won't venture out into uncharted waters without THEIR life raft. Even in articles concerning the Cotton Bowl, officials there almost welcomed an opportunity to host a game similar to the 1984 classic between Georgia and Texas. That game helped decide the national champion that day. No one will really care about the Orange Bowl on Jan 2 between Florida and Maryland except people in Florida and the Atlantic Coast around Maryland and DC. It is guaranteed to be the lowest rated game in Orange Bowl history. Roy Kramer doesn't care. His SEC will rake in millions that night and get free promotions for Florida and his conference.
So Roy Kramer continues to perpetuate the belief that what he has created is good. Sorry Roy. You are not as good as God at creating things. This one is a flop. What it will take is a few confident coaches telling their AD's that they will not tow the company line anymore. Guys like Colorado's Barnett have traditionally played along with Roy's games…. until he became this years Miami. Now he is making noises about wanting to certify a champion on the field. Horrors!
More fans than Major League baseball and the National Football League attend college football. Fans from Princeton and Rutgers can revel in the fact that they played the first game ever and fans from Miami and Nebraska can cheer their teams on January 3 for the season's final meaningful contest. What is right is that the teams continue to play for a trophy. What is wrong is that they continue to wait until the final polls arrive and the fans have to wait as well.
What is wrong with College Football?
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