Who Deserves the NCAA Championship?

I, like most other sports fans, have never been a fan of computerized ranking for collegiate sports for several reasons. The greatest is the fact that such systems cannot possibly take into account intangibles/incalculables and other non-objective measures of performance. The BCS system now just over a half a decade old, has stepped into controversy with both feet as it has left what will clearly be yet another split championship for all intents and purposes.

In my mind, LSU is clearly better than USC. I have no question that the same USC team that put up 28 points largely by passing the ball vs. a Michigan secondary appearing to have been manned by rookie-type pass coverage would have struggled to put up even half of that vs. the top scoring defense in the country and a team actually playing for something. USC's inability to run the ball vs. Michigan should be ample evidence that they would have been fortunate to put up 20 points vs. the top ranked LSU defense.

I found it interesting that many writers had already proclaimed USC the champs even before either of the two bowl games had even been played. I would like to see the geographic breakdown of the voters for the AP poll both east and west of the Mississippi.

Why is LSU deserving of the championship over USC you ask?

I must admit that I have a bias against the PAC-10 insofar as the conference, just as it is in basketball, is essentially devoid of defensive play. Occasionally a team steps up and represents a defensive powerhouse in the PAC-10, but by-and-large the conference does not nearly possess the defensively oriented teams that the SEC, ACC, Big 12, and Big 10 do. In fact, USC and Washington State are the only Pac-10 teams amongst the top 40 teams in scoring defense. In contrast, LSU was first, Georgia was second, and the SEC had 6 teams ranked among the top 40 scoring defenses with 4 teams ranked ahead of USC in scoring D.

As further proof of this, consider the number of teams below 300 points against in those conferences. In the Pac-10 there were two teams that fit that criteria. USC and Washington State with 239 and 257 PA. The other 8 teams in the Pac-10 allowed over 300 points.

In the SEC, 6 of the 12 teams in the conference were below 300 and another 4 were within 33 points of 300. LSU allowed only 154 points on the season and did it on a schedule that had one more game than USC played. The number of teams in the Big-10, ACC, and Big-12 that allowed fewer than 300 points were 6 of 11, 5 of 9, and 5 of 12 respectively. This clearly sets the stage for massive point inflation over in the Pac-12 which is exactly the state of affairs over there.

The second largest factor making LSU better than USC is the competition faced. First of all, the Pac-10 had only two teams this season with double-digit wins. The third best team in the Pac-10 was Oregon finishing a mediocre 8-5. There were only two teams, USC and WSU that finished among the top 25 this season.

Contrast that with the SEC which had four teams finish with double-digit wins and a fifth that went 9-4. LSU faced four of those teams winning three while dropping one to Florida. They also beat Georgia twice by a combined 51-23. USC lost to California, a team that was mediocre this season at best.

The bottom line is that USC lost their lone game to California a completely unranked team on the season and a nominal opponent that finished the season at 8-6 and 5-3 in a weak conference. USC faced only two teams ranked amongst the top 25 this season, WSU and Michigan.

LSU faced a much tougher schedule and a more worthy bowl opponent and one that was playing for something, and lost their lone game to Florida, ranked 25th in the ESPN/USA. LSU faced five teams ranked among the final top 25 and won four of those games beating 6th ranked Georgia twice and Oklahoma in the title game. Not to mention that LSU did not have the luxury of facing a Michigan team that appeared extremely ill prepared for its bowl game and not nearly at the caliber of Oklahoma.

OK Weiler, so what?s your solution? Fair enough. Let the top four teams at year?s end, determined by the BCS system, play each other in a three game playoff. Seed 4 takes on seed 1, seed 2 takes on seed 3, then the two winners meet on Monday night of the NFL?s divisional round games. This would add one game to the already extensive slate of collegiate bowl games. The week would also be during the semester break thereby being inconsequential to the "students? education", a proverbial political football that the NCAA seems to value only when useful in defending its money-generating juggernaut of bowl games.

There is no need to include any teams not ranked 4th or higher and my simple response to any team that feels slighted that they missed the docket is ?too bad.? In my mind, if you cannot play to a level that at least ranks you at fourth, then your claim to a national title is baseless. It is also unusual that teams with zero or only one loss that played difficult schedules are ranked at worse than fourth.

Holding out hope for a real solution seems to be tantamount to holding out hope that the Pope will convert to Islam anytime soon. The NCAA?s reasons for not implementing some sort of playoff structure have to do purely with money, so in their minds, the NCAA football?s braintrust that is, there is little reason to change the current system.

The real losers are both the players and fans. I can only relate that I would be completely dissatisfied with a "split championship" and would consider it a slap-in-the-face as a result of NCAA administrators that are too lazy or too self-serving to implement anything better.

I know that I would gladly run the risk of losing in order to find out for sure. Then again, that would involve returning to the basics of pure competition as the sole reason for why the game is even played. The BCS system has clearly failed this year. It will be interesting to see how long it takes for the current system to be partially or wholly scrapped in favor of a limited playoff system with the top four teams qualifying.

In the meantime, all things considered, LSU is a better team than USC and deserves at least its share of #1 if not the entire "ball of wax."

Comments: mweiler.billsreport@cox.net

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