A couple weeks ago this space presented a scenario favored by this writer to replace the current method of determining a national champion in Division 1 football. While the current system of using the regular season to select two teams to play for the NCAA championship is favored by a few, many more want something else.
My personal favorite is an eight team field, but other suggestions are out there and all would likely help eliminate what we now have. A championship game that now has a cloud hanging over it.
This Thursday night we will be fed a game between Oklahoma and Florida which will determine the national champion. A couple weeks ago there was a compelling argument to include these two teams in that game, as long as you aren't a Texas Longhorn fan. Sure, USC fans still touted themselves as worthy, and the reality is both the Sooners and Gators are likely happier with their current matchup than they would be if they had to face the Trojans, but USC lost to Oregon State who lost to Penn State and Utah. A tough argument for the Trojans to make.
Speaking of Utah, the Utes have managed to throw a huge monkey wrench into this year's BCS Championship party. Utah was undefeated going into last Friday's Sugar Bowl against once beaten Alabama. They emerged from that game a 31-17 winner, still undefeated and with a legitimate claim to be considered number one. Utah plays in the Mountain West Conference which is not one of the six BCS conferences, therefore not guaranteed a spot in a BCS bowl, nor ever given real consideration for a spot in the title game.
Most often an undefeated team from a non-BCS conference proves to be unworthy of a spot in a game of such magnitude. Last Friday Utah proved to be worthy of that spot. They easily beat an Alabama team which was ranked number one for much of the season and played Florida for a spot in this Thursday's game.
Going into the game most people outside of Utah figured the Utes had no chance for the upset. Utah so dominated the game that using the word upset to describe the result seems out of line. Thanks to Utah we will have no clear cut champion. The debate will never be conclusive because Utah created a ton of doubt with their performance in the Sugar Bowl.
The polls could agree on who is number one before all is said and done, but we can thank Utah for forcing more debate on changing the current system. And even if the polls agree on number one, there is reason to believe that the coaches poll will not be unanimous. Utah coach Kyle Whittingham has stated he will vote his team number one even though BCS guidelines stipulate that the winner of the BCS Championship game is to be ranked first.
Hopefully Whittingham has some support of his peers. Even if he is the only one in his poll to vote for his team, he is more likely to get support in the Associated Press poll. The AP guys are sportswriters and they are not bound by any rules of who to vote for. These sportswriters are an unpredictable lot.
Not saying they all have an agenda, but there will likely be votes for Utah as much to help move the playoff discussion further along as for them simply being worthy of consideration. USC will get votes in that poll as will Texas by winning the Fiesta Bowl Monday ngiht. Indeed, the AP poll should be very interesting this year.