What a nice, quaint, appealing matchup between two traditional college football powerhouses, Alabama and Texas, in the BCS Championship Game on Thursday. It will be fun to watch one of them remain unbeaten and lift the trophy.
It would be much better if the winner went right back to practice for six days and played Boise State somewhere next week for the real championship.
That is what ought to happen every year. Instead of setting up the bloated BCS game in early December and let the matchup sit out there for a month, without context or buildup, they ought to play a whole slate of bowl games, vote again and pick the top two teams for a real college football Super Bowl.
Ok, ok. I know what you're going to say: "What college football really needs is a playoff system." You know that. I know that. President Obama said so in that first big interview on "60 Minutes." Congress has said so. But it's just not going to happen, not any time soon anyway.
So let's be real. Let's try something that is only a minor tweak, something that maintains the fun and importance of the bowl games, something that doesn't water down the regular season (see the file on NCAA basketball and the 4,000 televised games every week), something worthy of the institution that I believe is the great American sport. College football dates back to 1869, just like Major League Baseball. But let's also go for something that is not so hidebound.
How neat and nostalgic that it's Alabama-Texas. Joe Namath and Tommy Nobis, Bear Bryant and Darrell Royal. Two historical legends from behemoth conferences. It would have been a good Orange Bowl game, as it was in 1965.
The problem is, under the present BCS system, there is almost no chance for a gate crasher. I read today that Boise State has been so good for the past few years that it might have a chance to be considered for the national title game next year. Big whoop. That's the problem. Entry into that game depends more on the past than the present.
If they used the same criteria for the NCAA basketball championship game, would Larry Bird's Indiana State team have been invited? Not on your life. And college hoops would have been denied the seminal game in its history.
I say play all the bowl games then have one last biggie based on the bowl games. Imagine the national buzz about that. You say, "There would be arguments about the top two teams then, just as there are now." I say the arguments are part of the appeal. Even if you had an eight-team playoff, you'd have arguments from the ninth-place team. At least this way, everyone would have more of a shot.
Plus, the bowl games would feel like playoff games. That would be making a great thing even better.
Bowl games -- all 34 of them, bless their hearts -- are a real strong thread of Americana. Big schools, smaller schools, teams from the Far West, Midwest, Deep South, Northeast are playing, all during the holidays. I watched at least a little bit of just about every one of them. It was a great show.
There was the cool scene of knowing that the coaches in the Meineke Car Care Bowl are so close that one was godfather to the other's oldest child. It was beyond cool to see my alma mater, Rutgers (winner in that first game in 1869), playing against Central Florida, coached by Long Islander George O'Leary (I missed much of it because the blizzard knocked cable off for a while).
Marshall had the best player with the same name as his school (Darius Marshall starred in the Little Caesars Bowl). Bernard Pierce would have made a name for Temple had he not gotten injured against UCLA in the Eagle Bank Bowl. Then there was Penn State prevailing over a mushy field and LSU's typical mushy end-of-game mettle in the Capital One Bowl, and Northwestern almost snapping a 60-year bowl win drought with its bizarre Kafka-esque ending in the Outback Bowl. It was thrilling to watch Idaho's two-point conversion at the end of the Humanitarian Bowl, on Boise State's field.
And then there was Boise State's riveting win over TCU in a mini-BCS Championship Game. Two cents from this peanut stand: Notre Dame should have hired Boise State coach Chris Petersen, who looks like he can do more with what he's got than anyone.
Two more cents: Have the NCAA issue a special waiver, allowing two teams every year to play one extra game, which would be one extra special game.