Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Your Huddled Masses

Boise St. and Oklahoma played an instant classic in the Fiesta Bowl on New Year's day. The game ended when Boise St. scored on a two-point conversion utilizing the rarely seen Statue of Liberty play. It ended what was one of the most entertaining bowl games in recent memory. The game featured an incredible scoring burst in the last 90 seconds. Oklahoma scored twice to erase a seven point deficit and then claim a seven point lead only to see Boise St. score on a desperation 4th and 19 hook and lateral play with seven seconds remaining in the game. It was something out of the school yard playbook, but it worked to perfection on this night.

The Boise St. coach Chris Peterson is probably the hottest coach in America right now. He just lead his team to an undefeated season and put on a great play calling display in front of the entire country. I'm don't know if he was a candidate for the major openings in college football before Monday night, but he certainly is now. I wouldn't be surprised if Alabama came calling if they are unsuccessful in convincing Nick Saban to jump ship from the Miami Dolphins. Peterson not only showed imaginative play calling, but his decision to go for two in overtime also revealed the guts of a true winner. Not many coaches in America would have gone for the win in that position. Most would have kicked the extra point and taken their chances in the next OT period. Peterson displayed not only a great belief in his coaches but also in his players.

Of course the writers and announcers have fallen over backwards to proclaim this the greatest game ever played. Once again the gift of commentators for hyperbole is astounding. It was less than a year ago that Texas beat USC for the National championship in a thrilling game that was then immediately proclaimed the "best game ever". The Boise St. game was thrilling but it didn't have the same stakes as the Texas USC game. It is probably one of the ten best bowl games of the past 30 years, but I wouldn't put it in the same category as some of the games that took place with higher stakes on the line. Tom Osborne at Nebraska once went for a two point conversion on the last play of the game with the national championship on the line. The attempt failed, but those are the kind of stakes required to lift a great game into the consideration for one of the all time best. There have lots of thrilling games over the years in bowl games. I remember Joe Montana leading Notre Dame back from a three touchdown deficit against Houston in the Cotton Bowl. I remember countless thrilling high scoring affairs in the Holiday Bowl. There have last second interceptions and touchdowns that have decided the national champion, so I think it would be wise to maintain a little perspective when it comes to this game.

It was a great game though. I certainly hope that this sheds some light on the inequity in the BCS system. Boise St. finished their season undefeated and untied and yet did not have the opportunity to play for the national championship. They proved, by their victory over a very good Oklahoma team, that they can play with the best teams in the country. Shouldn't the have had the chance to play for a national championship? Could they have beaten USC or Michigan or Ohio St. or Florida? We'll never get the chance to find out because the NCAA refuses to have a playoff. It would have been fun to see them play at least one more game. Boise St. is considered a mid major and they will probably never be in the position to win a national championship unless they upgrade their out of conference schedule. Joe Paterno lead Penn St. to four undefeated seasons without winning a national championship. His team was not affiliated with any conference and would probably have been considered a mid major at the time. He found a way to upgrade their schedule and move them into national championship consideration. Boise St. or any mid major that wants a real shot at the national championship will need to do the same thing.

Of course under my proposed system of the eight top ranked teams being in a playoff, Boise St. (#9) would still have been on the outside looking in. Oh well, no system is perfect.



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