Georgia May Have Caught a Bad Break in a Flawed System...Aw Shucks
The notion of Georgia and\or the SEC getting robbed by a college football system isn’t an argument out here in the West.
It’s a spit-take.
Ok, even if it might be true.
Georgia, which finished fifth in the final College Football Playoff ranking, makes a strong case for being one of the four “best” teams in college football.
“If you lose by seven points to the No.1 team you shouldn’t slip too far,” Alabama Coach Nick Saban said after beating UGA in Saturday’s SEC title game.
Actually, coach, Georgia only fell one spot, to No. 5.
The committee showed real respect by keeping two-loss UGA ahead of Ohio State, the one-loss Big Ten champion.
Georgia was just the latest—and maybe least sympathetic—casualty in an imperfect system.
Sorry if I don’t raise a picket sign.
The SEC has been the best conference, by far, in the 20-year era of the BCS\CFP.
It has also won almost every political debate it ever entered and caught its share of fortunate breaks and bounces.
Tennessee got to the first BCS title game in 1998, and won it, only because Arkansas quarterback Clint Stoerner fumbled without being touched. (Look it up).
In 2003, Saban won his first title at LSU without having to play the No.1 team in both major polls (USC).
In 2006, the SEC and Florida argued vehemently against Michigan getting a rematch against Ohio State in the national title game after losing a close, regular-season game to the Buckeyes.
Florida Coach Urban Meyer said Michigan “had its chance” and didn’t deserve another.
Florida edged out Michigan for the No. 2 spot by the BCS margin of .9445 to .9334 and claimed the national title.
In 2007, LSU became the only two-loss team to win the BCS after a wild, last weekend lifted the Tigers from No. 7 to No. 2 in less than 24 hours.
Two seasons later, Texas quarterback Colt McCoy was injured on the first drive of the national title game against Alabama in the Rose Bowl. That helped Alabama win the first of five national titles under Saban.
In 2011, the SEC completely flip-flopped its 2006 position and said Alabama DID deserve a second chance against LSU after losing to the Tigers during the regular season.
Alabama edged Oklahoma State for the No. 2 spot by the margin of .9419 to .9333.
Alabama won the national title.
The SEC, really, caught only one bad break in the BCS era. That was undefeated Auburn being left out of the 2004 finals in favor of USC and Oklahoma.
Commissioner Mike Slive, may he rest in peace, vowed that would never happen and the SEC has since won nine national titles.
In other words—few outside of the SEC inner circle are handing out tissues for Georgia’s tears.
The Pac 12, which used to be competitive in football, can tell you some BCS sob stories.
If there was replay in 1998, the UCLA Bruins would have defeated Miami and competed in the first BCS national championship. A critical fumble by Brad Melsby was not, in fact, a fumble.
In 2001, Oregon was No. 2 in both polls but finished fourth in the BCS standings.
In 2003, the crime of all crimes, USC finished No.1 in the polls but No. 3 in the BCS.
In 2007, LSU’s championship run was paved in large part by Oregon quarterback Dennis Dixon (and Heisman front runner) tearing his ACL late in the season.
Alabama has won two national titles without winning its own division of the SEC.
The system is what the system is.
In a four-team playoff, the Pac would have had qualifying teams in 2000 (Washington, 4), 2001 (Oregon, 4), 2002 (USC, 4) 2003 (USC, 3), 2004 (USC, 1), 2005 (USC, 1), 2010 (Oregon, 2, Stanford, 4) 2011 (Stanford, 4), 2012 (Oregon,4).
In the two-team BCS, though, the Pac placed only three teams in the playoff (USC in 2004 and 2005, Oregon in 2010).
As the SEC folks who designed the two-team format used to say to the Pac folks back then: those are the breaks.
We’ll borrow from Florida’s Urban Meyer in 2006 and say to Georgia—you had your chance.
Georgia blew a 14-point lead to Alabama. Coach Kirby Smart called for a ridiculous fake-punt, that failed, at a critical point of the game.
That was sort of Kirby Dumb.
“We’ve got to play better in the fourth quarter,” Smart conceded .
There’s your answer.
Georgia has now lost consecutive games to Alabama’s backup quarterback—in the same stadium. In last year’s title game, Tua Tagovailoa came off the bench to relieve a struggling Jalen Hurts.
Saturday, it was Hurts coming off the bench in relief of an injured Tua.
How many more chances should one team get to beat Alabama?
Why not give Oklahoma that chance?
USC’s 2003 squad sends Georgia its best regards. Oklahoma State's class of 2011 feels your pain.
In an imperfect world, in this imperfect system, the best we can offer Georgia is…sorry.