Friday December 4th, 2009

The most important game of the weekend won't take place in Atlanta. Sure, the SEC championship will pit No. 1 against No. 2 with a trip to the BCS title game hanging in the balance, but the outcomes are clear. Either Alabama will play for the national title, or Florida will.

Rather, the most important game of the weekend will be played in Arlington, Texas, beneath a set of 180-foot-long video boards. The Big 12 championship will help determine who plays for the national title, but it may also ultimately determine how the teams that play for the national title are selected. We know who Texas and Nebraska fans want to win, but if you don't have a dog in this particular race, the team you choose to back says a lot about who you are.

If you crave a Texas win, you probably yearn for the days when the Bluebonnet Bowl extended invitations in October. You probably hate ice cream and French kissing. You probably root for the club against the baby seal, or at least for the New York Yankees. You don't understand why everyone complains about the BCS, and you also probably wonder why you don't get invited to more barbecues.

If you ache for a Nebraska win, you probably keep a mock bracket somewhere in your desk. You probably love pizza and puppies. You probably consider Boise State's Statue of Liberty the greatest play in the sport's history. You want a playoff, and you want it now.

If any of this rings true, then you're pulling for the wrong team.

BCS backers should pray Nebraska stuns Texas. For that matter, they should hope Pittsburgh beats Cincinnati and New Mexico State upsets Boise State. That would leave the SEC champ and TCU as the only undefeated teams. Finally, a team from outside the big six conferences would play for the national title.

Conventional wisdom suggests the BCS officials, whose system is designed to horde most of the money and the glory for the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Big East, Pac-10 and SEC, would declare a state of emergency. Far from it. They would declare victory. They would hail their system as an unqualified success. TCU against the SEC champ would be the exception that proves the rule.

Playoff lovers should back Texas, because in this case, chalk equals potential change. They should want Cincinnati to beat Pittsburgh, Boise State to beat New Mexico State and the Longhorns to throttle the Cornhuskers. That would set up a BCS title game between Texas and the SEC champ, which, besides being eminently watchable, would leave undefeated Boise State, Cincinnati and TCU on the outside looking in. That would invite more politicians always eager to siphon votes off an enraged fan base to join Sen. Orrin Hatch's and Rep. Joe Barton's crusade against the BCS.

Make no mistake, BCS officials are nervous about government intervention. If they weren't, they wouldn't have installed Bill Hancock as executive director/mouthpiece/whipping boy, and they wouldn't have hired former George W. Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer's PR firm to defend the BCS to an increasingly unhappy block of constituents.

A trio of undefeated teams with no chance to play for the national title would provide the best foil the playoff crowd can pit against the BCS. A TCU appearance in the BCS title game would be a thrilling example of the little guy crashing through a glass ceiling, but it would only embolden the men who foisted the BCS upon us.

So it may be counterintuitive, but if you love the status quo, cheer for Huskers to win a stunner. If you want a playoff, Hook 'em Horns.

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