- Mark Schlabach, ESPN Senior Writer
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College football’s four-team playoff can’t get here soon enough.
This year’s rotation of BCS bowl games includes No. 12 Florida State, No. 15 Northern Illinois, No. 21 Louisville and five-loss Wisconsin, which isn’t even rated in the final BCS standings.
A “Christmas Vacation” marathon probably never seemed so inviting during the holidays.
The Jan. 7 Discover BCS National Championship Game between No. 1 Notre Dame and No. 2 Alabama will probably end up being one of the most watched games in college football history because of the storied programs involved.
And the Jan. 3 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl between No. 4 Oregon and No. 5 Kansas State also might include plenty of fireworks.
As for the rest of the BCS bowl games? I’d rather watch Chevy Chase and Cousin Eddie over and over again.
It’s a shame the sport’s powerbrokers couldn’t put a four-team playoff into place this season, instead of one that starts after the 2014 season. Who wouldn’t want to watch two national semifinals between Notre Dame against Oregon and Alabama against Florida, with the winners then meeting in a national championship game?
Of course, we won’t get to see those games and we’ll also have to watch four top-10 teams (No. 7 Georgia, No. 8 LSU, No. 9 Texas A&M and No. 10 South Carolina) play in non-BCS bowls because the current BCS system precludes one conference from having more than two teams in BCS bowl games.
“I think it’s ridiculous,” said Alabama coach Nick Saban, shortly after the Crimson Tide defeated Georgia 32-28 in the SEC championship game on Saturday night. “I watch teams playing that are 7-5 that are talking about how they might go to a BCS game because they won their championship? Something’s not right here.
“I thought the BCS bowl games were supposed to get the best teams in the game. So now it’s all about the conferences sharing the money. But I still think they can share the money however they want. It’s not a financial decision. It’s a player decision and reinforcing the players in a positive way for the great season they had. Florida should go to the BCS game, too. If you only lost one game in this league, you should be in a BCS game. If you got in [the SEC championship] game, you should be in a BCS game.”
The BCS system was already an unmitigated mess, and it was even further muddled on Sunday when Northern Illinois finished No. 15 in the final BCS standings -- and, just as importantly, was ranked ahead of a champion from one of the six automatic-qualifier conferences (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Big East, Pac-12 and SEC). Big East champion Louisville finished six spots behind the Huskies.
I’m not criticizing Northern Illinois for having a spectacular 12-1 season. The Huskies haven’t lost since falling to Iowa 18-17 at Chicago’s Soldier Field in their Sept. 1 opener. Quarterback Jordan Lynch is one of the most underrated players in the country; he passed for 2,962 yards with 24 touchdowns and ran for 1,771 yards with 19 scores this season.
But Northern Illinois defeated 2-9 Army 41-40 and needed two overtimes to defeat Kent State 44-37 in Friday night’s MAC championship game in Detroit. The Huskies won’t even have their coach as they prepare to play FSU in Miami; Dave Doeren was named NC State’s new coach on Saturday.
You can partially blame Nebraska and UCLA for Northern Illinois’ inclusion into the Orange Bowl. Wisconsin walloped the Cornhuskers 70-31 in the Big Ten championship game in Indianapolis on Saturday night, causing them to fall from No. 12 to No. 16 in the BCS standings. UCLA lost to Stanford twice in six days, including a 27-24 defeat in Friday night’s Pac-12 championship game. The Bruins fell from No. 16 to No. 17 in the BCS standings, and the Huskies moved up six spots from No. 21.
Who didn’t want to see Big 12 runner-up Oklahoma against Florida in the Sugar Bowl?
The good news: We’ll have to endure only one more year of the current BCS system.
Like Cousin Eddie once famously said of the Jelly of the Month Club, the BCS is the gift that keeps on giving throughout the entire year.
2dSharon Katz, ESPN Stats & Information
3dTom VanHaaren and Erik McKinney