Bittersweet. That’s how I would characterize this past weekend in college football around OTP Manor. To have great games on, beginning with Thursday’s Civil War is a fantastic way to spend a few days. To realize on Saturday as you’re soldiering through a Wisconsin-Hawaii blowout that after that there are only 35 FBS games left this season is a bit of a buzzkill. At least conference championship weekend brought the thunder and gave 2009 more of what it had all season long: upsets, upsets gone awry, and controversy.
More after the jump…
- SEC Championship: When Nick Saban was hired at Alabama, most thought it was a matter of “when” more than “if” he would be ridiculously successful and compete for a national championship. Frankly, you cannot continue to recruit like Saban does and not be succesful beyond belief. The same can ultimately be said for Florida, who was talented, skilled, and the defending national champions. It’s a shame that this game, matching the 2 best teams in the nation, was for the SEC title and not the national championship, but it’s fitting that the premier conference gets the premier game. Especially since most, myself included, feel the national championship is a mere formality for the winner of the SEC. RV and Edge may feel differently about that, and I know for a fact they feel differently about the following statement: Tim Tebow is perhaps the greatest college player I’ve ever (and will ever) see. It’s a shame he couldn’t end his career the storybook way it should have ended. The good news is now that he is gone I can go back to hating Florida. So perhaps this game wasn’t all bad.
- Big 12 Championship: As a person who is appreciative of a good defensive struggle, I thought the Texas-Nebraska game was one of the best games of the weekend. Rarely will you see a defensive tackle dominate a game by Ndamukong Suh from Nebraska did just that. He made McCoy look fallible and made Texas look like a team that may just be unworthy of the national title. Did Nebraska get screwed by the Big 12 and the officials? Perhaps. But not by the one second being placed back on the clock. More importantly, the pass interference calls all night limited Nebraska’s secondary and produced results for Texas. That’s what’s worthy of a little grumbling.
- Defacto Big East Championship: For the folks who expected a great game between Pitt and Cincy, they were certainly rewarded with perhaps one of the best games of the seasons. Not only because of what was at stake (a BCS berth) but because of the way the game unfolded. Similar to the Oregon Civil War, there was something for everyone. Great defense, special teams heroics and failures, and offensive performances by Dion Lewis and Mardy Gilyard worthy of mention when it comes time to give out season-long hardware this weekend. Fantastic game to close the season for the Big East.
- CUSA Championship: Congrats and huzzahs are due to the East Carolina Pirates. While Case Keenum and the Houston Cougars were stealing the show and most of the headlines this season in CUSA, Skip Holtz and ECU quietly went about their business and earned the right to play for the conference crown, the 2nd in a row for the Pirates. Holtz and company has returned ECU to respectability, as this will mark their 4th consecutive Bowl trip.
- ACC Championship: The ACC is sort of the redheaded step child of conference championships. Low attendance in years past, and no one worthy of celebrating gave way to a decently attended game in Tampa and Georgia Tech announcing to the world that Paul Johnson is the Jedi Option Master. Surprisingly enough, it was GT’s defense, not their impossible to stop offense, on a Clemson last minute drive that helped the Jackets clinch their BCS berth.
- MAC Championship: Ho hum… Central Michigan wins the MAC. Certainly closer than most expected, Ohio kept it within 2 scores for most of the game as well as broke out some trickery on the reverse pass. Congrats to CMU, and I, like the rest of the MAC is happy to see LeFevour go and we all hope Butch Jones gets hired somewhere else.
- Civil War: Oregon and Oregon State had a BCS Bowl on the line, and the game itself delivered. No matter what you were looking for, it was on display. Defense, offense, great coaching, and a redemption story in LeGarrette Blount worthy of recognition. Fantastic game and a great precursor to the rest of the weekend.
- Arizona-USC: No national implications, no BCS bid on the line. But oh how sweet it is that USC, and more importantly, their coach and fans, ended 2009 with a bit of a sour taste and yet another loss. Perhaps now, and only now, I understand why people hate Notre Dame and wish ill upon them. I feel the same way about the Trojans.
As I said last year, I’m not for a playoff. Never have been, never will be. A playoff would have made this weekend boring as all get out and sucked the fun out of 95% of this season. As ridiculous as the BCS is, and it is on many levels, it has done exactly what it has set out to do: make essentially every weekend a playoff from September through December. Those seeking a perfect fix for such an imperfect sport are essentially looking for a unicorn ridden by a naked Megan Fox. Would it be awesome? Of course. Does it exist? Of course not.
College football, and the arguments within it, are subjective by nature. It’s the defining element of the sport, and frankly, the only way to have any meaningful conversations when two teams don’t meet, neither have a loss, and they essentially are in a staring contest with no clear cut winner for a multi-million dollar payday. Is TCU better than Texas? I don’t know. No one does. What isn’t debatable is that Texas played, top to bottom, conference season included, a significantly better collection of opponents. That, and really that alone, is the sole reason why I’m not that up in arms about TCU not playing for a national title. Crazy? Perhaps. Maybe I’m simply washed in euphoria that two non-automatic qualifying teams made it to the BCS. They got paired against each other, which is infuriating… but that’s another column.