Commentary

Irish-Tide why we need a playoff

Updated: January 8, 2013, 10:43 AM ET
By Mark Schlabach | ESPN.com

MIAMI -- Write your U.S. congressman.

Call your conference commissioner, university president and athletic director. Heck, email Dr. Lou, Mark May, Kirk Herbstreit, Chris Fowler and David Pollack. I'd even give you their email addresses if it wouldn't get me fired.

College football's forthcoming four-team playoff, which goes into effect during the 2014 season, can't get here soon enough.

Can't we please have a playoff this coming season? Do we really have to wait another year?

[+] EnlargeNick Saban
Cal Sport Media/AP ImagesNick Saban held his third crystal football in the last four seasons.

Once again, the Bowl Championship Series robbed college football fans of a fitting end to a season on Monday night. No. 2 Alabama blasted No. 1 Notre Dame 42-14 in the Discover BCS National Championship at Sun Life Stadium, and the score wasn't even that close. If the Crimson Tide and Fighting Irish played every day between now and St. Patrick's Day, the Fighting Irish would never win.

You thought last year's BCS title game was boring? At least No. 1 LSU put up a fight in the first couple of quarters before falling to No. 2 Alabama 21-0 in New Orleans, in what was a rematch of a regular-season slugfest between the SEC West rivals.

This game was over after Alabama took the opening kickoff and marched 82 yards in five plays for a touchdown. It was like Mike Tyson knocking out Michael Spinks in 91 seconds, with the Crimson Tide delivering their knockout punch on tailback Eddie Lacy's 20-yard touchdown run less than three minutes into the game.

Alabama led the Fighting Irish 21-0 after the first play of the second quarter and 35-0 after its opening possession of the second half. Notre Dame's overmatched defense couldn't stop Alabama's rugged running game, and the Irish couldn't run against the Crimson Tide. That's a recipe for disaster against a team that has now won three of the past four BCS national titles.

"It was pretty clear," Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. "We had a hard time getting off the field, and a lot of that had to do with Alabama. They were able to run the ball effectively, and then obviously when you do that, it opens up so much of the play-action game."

It didn't take anyone very long to realize the Fighting Irish shouldn't have been here and couldn't play with Alabama.

Just like that, an SEC team won a BCS National Championship for the seventh season in a row.

"We've got to get physically stronger, continue to close the gap there, and just overall you need to see what it looks like," Kelly said. "Our guys clearly know what it looks like. When I say, 'Know what it looks like,' [I'm talking about] a championship football team. They're back-to-back national champs. So that's what it looks like. Measure yourself against that, and I think it was pretty clear across the board what we have to do."

Notre Dame didn't measure up against Alabama in any way, shape or form, and if a four-team playoff had been in place this season, chances are the Fighting Irish wouldn't have played in Miami on Monday night. The undefeated Irish would have played No. 4 seed Oregon in a national semifinal game, and it's hard to imagine they would have fared any better against the high-flying Ducks.

[+] EnlargeAJ McCarron
Cal Sport Media/AP ImagesAJ McCarron and Alabama were never challenged by Notre Dame's defense.

The Crimson Tide would have played No. 3 Florida in the other semifinal. Given the Gators' 33-23 loss to Louisville in the Sugar Bowl, it's hard to imagine they would have put up much of a fight against Alabama. The Gators can't throw the ball very well and a one-dimensional offense doesn't stand a chance against the Crimson Tide.

So many college football fans would have gotten what they wanted: Alabama against Oregon in the BCS National Championship. The Ducks seemed headed to Miami until their 17-14 loss in overtime to Stanford on Nov. 17. No. 1 Kansas State lost at Baylor 52-24 on the same day, opening the door for Alabama to return to the title game.

The Crimson Tide survived a 32-28 scare against Georgia in the SEC championship game and then blasted Notre Dame to become the sport's first consensus back-to-back national champion since Nebraska in 1994-95.

Could the Ducks or anyone else have beaten the Crimson Tide on Monday night? Maybe not. But any other matchup -- a rematch with Texas A&M (the only team to defeat the Crimson Tide this season) or the much-anticipated showdown with Oregon -- would have been more exciting than what we watched on Monday night.

In its second-to-last year of existence, the BCS once again failed. It gave us a Sugar Bowl no one outside of Louisville cared about (including the Gators) and a three-touchdown rout in the Orange Bowl. Even the Fiesta Bowl failed to live up to its hype, with Oregon routing No. 5 Kansas State 35-17.

Worst of all, we watched another dud on the last night of the college football season.

Maybe it doesn't matter who played Alabama on Monday night. Maybe the Crimson Tide are just too good.

Every game counts?

I can't wait until more than one game really counts.

Mark Schlabach | email

College Football and Basketball