And so it turns out that Alabama-LSU was just as bad the second time around. Maybe worse. Oh, I know many will be swayed by the sudden and unexpected appearance of a touchdown late in the game, but there's no way that game was worthy of deciding a national champion.
Look, 50 percent more Brad Wing! More constipated play calling! Jordan Jefferson channeling Raiders-era JaMarcus Russell!
The LSU Tigers crossed midfield once and got so worked up over the achievement they promptly went backward and recrossed, apparently worried they were trespassing and might get in trouble. Alabama kicker Jeremy Shelley got so much air time his mother was yelling at Nick Saban to go for it on fourth down, just once.
The complaint isn't necessarily the teams the BCS system chose for the title game. Instead, it's the system itself. All the calls for a playoff -- and there's really no argument anymore -- can be distilled to one sentence: More teams need a chance. When they narrow the world down to two teams, it's hard to complain when one team is undefeated and the other loses only to that team, and by just three points. But there's no way -- no possible way -- that (pick one) Oregon/Wisconsin/Oklahoma State/Stanford/Boise State would have been held to fewer than 100 yards of total offense by the Alabama defense. As good as Alabama's defense is, there's no way an Oregon-Alabama game would have been that unwatchable. And if an eight-team playoff gave us Alabama-LSU II, then fine.
This BCS National Championship Game was an ironclad argument against the current system, made all the more damning by the tremendous performances by the underlings in the Rose and Fiesta bowls. Not that anybody really needed any more evidence.
Les Miles, you mean to tell us you had a month to prepare a game plan for the national championship and you couldn't do any better than a bunch of slow-developing option plays and a couple of 2-yard pass plays? Did Jefferson tear his rotator cuff in pregame warm-ups? That game plan was so conservative I expected the cameras to pan the LSU coaches' booth to show us Rick Santorum in a sweater vest and a headset, trying to figure out which play was more likely to lose 2 yards -- Stroll Option or Hopeless Hitch?
You know what's coming, though: an onslaught from the alleged purists, the self-imposed popes of college football, proclaiming the beauty of defense and the ignorance of anyone who suggests otherwise. Alabama will be crowned The Bestest Defense In College Football History as a way of justifying that travesty. And we know this because it's precisely the same storyline that played out last time these two teams played.
It reminds me of a piece of modern art I saw once titled "For Those Who Know The Difference." It's a yellow rectangle, about 12 feet tall, leaning against a wall, and you've got to think the artist was laughing at the highly cultured when he came up with the name. And the thing is, no matter how many ways you look at it, and how deeply you try to think while doing so, it's still a piece of yellow acrylic leaning against a wall.
Just like this football game. It was a piece of nothing leaning against a wall. No matter how many different ways you try to spin it, and no matter how many times you try to walk around it to get at it from a different angle, it's still a horrible football game that leaves a bitter aftertaste to a season. And in this case, nobody could say they didn't see it coming, because we all saw it once before.
I'm just waiting for someone to suggest that LSU and Alabama play again. You know, a rubber match to settle it once and for all. As an SEC promo at halftime told us, "You're Watching History." Well, thank goodness for that. History means past tense.
At halftime, Oregon coach Chip Kelly said of LSU, "I think they've got to open it up a little bit." The architect of the fastest, most entertaining offense in football looked like he was going to pass a stone. Chip was wearing a suit and tie, and he looked like he wanted to rip them off, throw them onto the field and find a nice, quiet place where he could pour himself a scotch and watch film of LaMichael James and De'Anthony Thomas running free across the synthetic veldt.
You pretty much knew the game was over when Shelley kicked his fifth field goal with 22 seconds left in the third. There was simply no way LSU was going to have enough time to kick six of 'em and take the lead. But hey -- look at the bright side. At least Wing (who punted nine times for LSU) and Shelley don't have to go to the NFL scouting combine now; they had their own on Monday night.
Something good has to come out of this, so it's important that all those people who are fighting for the NCAA to institute a playoff format don't forget this night. They can't. They need to make sure nobody in power forgets how broken the system really is, and how much more fulfilling a legitimate playoff could be.
ESPN The Magazine senior writer Tim Keown co-wrote the autobiography of Pawn Stars' Rick Harrison. "License to Pawn: Deals, Steals, and my Life at the Gold & Silver" is available on Amazon.com. He also co-wrote Josh Hamilton's autobiography, "Beyond Belief: Finding the Strength to Come Back," available as well on Amazon.com. Sound off to Tim here.