College Football Playoffs: What Could Have Been
It’s looking like we will (finally) get a college football playoff, though we will have to wait a little while as the new system will not be implemented until 2014. The new system isn’t perfect, I would have liked an eight team playoff with the first round hosted on the higher seed’s campus, but it’s certainly a step forward. At the same time, I can’t but help think of the playoff scenarios that could have been. Here are some of the notable ones.
(Note: It is likely that College Football’s “Final Four” will be decided by a selection committee. For the sake of this article I used the top four teams in the BCS standings at the end of the regular season.)
1998-1999 (BCS Champion: Tennessee)
#1 Tennessee, #2 Florida State, #3 Kansas State, #4 Ohio State
I will never forget the 1998 college football season for two reasons. The first being that it was the inaugural year of my college football fan-hood. The second being the Ohio State-Michigan State game. To this day it remains one of my most vivid childhood memories. I will never forget how excited my Dad was when Ohio State jumped out of the gates to take a commanding 17-3 lead after the first quarter. How excited was he? Well, let’s just say he got on the phone and promptly purchased tickets to the Fiesta Bowl in Tempe, Arizona…the site of the 1998 National Championship Game (talk about one of the greatest jinxes of all time!). In typical John Cooper fashion, the Buckeyes ensued to collapse against an inferior team from the state of Michigan. Despite being the top ranked team in the polls from the start of the season, Ohio State was unable to recover from their late-season loss. After UCLA’s collapse, Tennessee and Florida State hooked up in the first-ever BCS Championship game, but neither of them would have beaten the Buckeyes.
2000-2001 (BCS Champion: Oklahoma)
#1 Oklahoma, #2 Florida State, #3 Miami, #4 Washington
Of all the controversial BCS seasons, 2000-2001 was certainly one of them. Washington handed Miami their only loss of the season and also beat the #5 team in the country, Oregon State. Miami gave Florida their only loss of the season, and was ranked higher than the Seminoles in both human polls. Yet, somehow, it was Florida State that moved on to the title game. The result – an ugly 13-2 win for the Sooners. As good as Oklahoma was that season, Miami was better. Miami will be remembered for their teams in 2001 and 2002, but the 2000 team was every bit as talented, if not more so.
2003-2004 (BCS Champion: LSU/USC)
#1 Oklahoma, #2 LSU, #3 USC, #4 Michigan
In one of the most egregious moves in BCS history, Oklahoma rested their starters in the Big 12 Championship Game and was routed by Kansas State. Despite falling to #3 in both human polls, the Sooners somehow managed to leapfrog both LSU and USC (who was #1 in both human polls) and into the championship. Lets forget about BCS Standings for this scenario – USC beat Michigan in the Rose Bowl and LSU beat Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl. Everyone with a brain knew who the two best teams were that season, it just so happened that those of us were trumped by the “thoughts” of computers! The better of the two teams…USC.
2005-2006 (BCS Champion: Texas)
#1 USC, #2 Texas, #3 Penn State, #4 Ohio State
The greatest game of the century. Vince Young’s heroic performance. Mighty USC falling at the hands of Texas after a month of watching ESPN comparing the Trojans to some of the greatest college football teams ever. What if I were to tell you none of that should have happened? Well, I might be wrong, but it is entirely possible. To this day I believe that the 2005 Ohio State football team was the best team Jim Tressel ever coached. How did they lose two games? Take a Troy Smith suspension for the first game of the season, add an ensuing quarterback controversy that played out during the course of the Texas game, sprinkle in Ben Hartsocks dropped sure touchdown in the second half (not once but twice) and you get a narrow Texas victory. A few weeks later Ohio State dropped another close one to Penn State. But by the end of the season that team was hitting on all cylinders. Maybe Texas still wins the title in 2005, but the possible match ups in this playoff are too good to pass up.
2008-2009 (BCS Champion: Florida)
#1 Oklahoma, #2 Florida, #3 Texas, #4 Alabama
I am still trying to figure out how Oklahoma managed to squeeze their way into the title game after losing to Texas by 10 points earlier in the year. Apparently the computers valued Oklahoma’s shalacking of Texas Tech more than Texas’ win against Oklahoma (Texas lost to Texas Tech a few weeks before Oklahoma beat Texas Tech. Texas of course lost their game to Texas Tech on a last second Hail Mary). A Florida-Texas matchup would have been fantastic in the Final Four, with Colt McCoy facing off against Tim Tebow…a battle between two of the winningest quarterbacks of the 2000′s. Much like with the 2005-2006 season, this playoff scenario is included because it’s too entertaining to pass up.