Columns, NCAA, Sports

McCARTHY: Playoffs?! Fine, let’s talk playoffs

OK, I’m sold. College football needs a playoff.

Now, now . . . don’t get ahead of yourselves. I am by no means admitting any falsities in my previous column.

Like most statements attributed to me, whether by the byline or overheard amongst bar chatter, my argument in December was ironclad. This year, the BCS got it right. I still stand by that.

As I said then – as long as the two best teams in the country play for the national championship, then we can ill afford to rail against the current system.

At the time, there were the annual widespread complaints about this year’s BCS bowl selections. However, outside of the college towns where distinct individual biases fueled the harping, the only consistent string of displeasure surrounded the national championship match up.

Once the final rankings officially slotted the University of Alabama slightly ahead of Oklahoma State University, the critics and pundits were out in full force.

“It’s a rematch! We already know the ending!” they said, exasperated.

“SEC football is boring, and Alabama can’t score” they complained, matter-of-factly.

“You’re wrong, Andrew. LSU and OSU are both going to win big, and your utter lack of intelligence will be immortalized in writing for all the world to see,” they told me, mockingly.

My responses?

Wrong. Wrong. And who’s laughing now, Mom?

Given the absolute thrashing the Crimson Tide put on the Bayou Bengals, you would be hard pressed to find a critic that says that ‘Bama did not deserve to be in that game.

Actually, allow me to pontificate even farther – thanks to the complete and utter dominance of Alabama, it would be difficult to find anyone unwilling to stand by the Tide as undisputed champs. Which is saying something, because near everyone hates admitting they were wrong . . . or so I hear.

In one game, Nick Saban’s bunch not only shut up the critics who bemoaned Alabama’s presence in the championship itself, but also managed to convince the world that its mid-season loss to LSU was a fluke. The complaint that the game was a rematch has thus been rendered near inconsequential.

As a result, I was vindicated. Proven triumphant, so to speak.

All of this should make me feel quite proud of myself, right?

Well, yes and no.

Do I now assume myself unequivocally and inherently smarter than those silly Oklahoma State supporters?

Yes, yes I do.

However, that being said, I’m also going to let you all in on a little secret – I thought LSU was going to win.

In fact, I was sure of it. In the weeks leading up to the game, I put more and more stock into the fact they had won that much-talked-about prior meeting in Tuscaloosa.

This time it’s practically a home game for LSU, I told myself.

I was so certain in their chances that it didn’t matter that their quarterback was Jordan Jefferson.

Except, clearly, it did matter. Jordan Jefferson sucks. LSU struggled to get the ball past midfield, and Alabama steamrolled the Tigers en route to the championship.

I suppose in the grand scheme of things, this isn’t all that important. After all, I was supremely confident that Alabama was one of the two best teams in the country. It just turns out that I underestimated how right I was.

This being the case, there is only one reason that my overall shock regarding the outcome is consequential whatsoever. When Alabama put the game out of reach, and the end result became obvious, my immediate thought was:

Damn, I would have liked to see these two teams in a playoff.

Now, this isn’t because an Alabama win called into question the BCS system as a whole, but because the BCS got it right.

Alabama and LSU were the two best teams in the country. That much is clear.

Alabama is the indisputable national champion. That much is clear.

However, that still is not enough. There are still questions to be answered.

Did the multiple week layoff make a difference?

Would Stanford or Oklahoma State have provided matchup problems for either team?

Would Les Miles have realized how awful Jordan Jefferson is sooner?

My insatiable need for certainty has not been quenched. Even in the face of a perfect title game match up, and a dominant championship performance, doubts still linger.

So, the irony of the controversy-free end to the college football season is that it might finally prove that a playoff system is the only way to decide the true National Champion.

As I said in the beginning, I’m sold. I concede. Bring on a playoff system. But, you must never forget, I was still right about Alabama.

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