Alabama doesn't deserve title shot

LSU's Eric Reid (bottom) knocks the ball away from Alabama's Trent Richardson on Saturday.

A message for all the “rematch” criers out there – please stop.


It started weeks (months?) before Southeastern Conference Goliaths Louisiana State and Alabama even met on the field Saturday night in Tuscaloosa, Ala., to settle the matter of No. 1 vs. No. 2. Before we even knew the final score of this latest “Game of the Century,” there has been an ongoing debate about whether the two teams should meet again on Jan. 9 in New Orleans to decide the mythical national championship.

Let me just skip ahead to what needs to be the answer to every conversation on this topic – no.

No … no … no … no … absolutely not!

I don’t care if there is zero doubt in anyone’s mind that LSU and Alabama are head and shoulders the two best teams in college football. Frankly, I believe they are. That the SEC has won five consecutive BCS titles makes it a pretty viable argument on behalf of two programs that contributed a couple of them already.

But that doesn’t matter after Saturday night. LSU can be champion. Alabama more than likely has to wait until next year.

We all understand how big this game was. LSU and Alabama kicked off after 8 p.m. Saturday night. More than 600 credentialed media were in attendance. National championship games and State of the Union addresses have garnered less attention.

But here’s the thing about the BCS system that has been established. You get one shot in a game like this. If you fail, sorry. Someone else deserves the chance to do what you could not.

The exact same argument applies now as it did in 2006 when many were howling for Ohio State and Michigan to meet again after a riveting 42-39 regular-season rivalry showdown. Despite the Wolverines losing that one, pollsters still had them No. 2 behind the Buckeyes entering the final week before BCS invitations went out.

That’s when Florida coach Urban Meyer went on the campaign trail for his one-loss Gators.

“Florida belongs,” Meyer said of his SEC champs. “That other team had a shot.”

Meyer’s pitch was absolutely right then and it’s absolutely right now. Until an inclusive playoff system is put in place, nobody deserves a do-over. The only half-decent argument that the ridiculous BCS apologists make is that “every game counts” in the quest to be the best. If you start granting rematches, that last line of logic is forfeited immediately.

Incidentally, that supposedly invincible Ohio State team lost to Florida to kick off the string of SEC dominance in the BCS title game. Michigan ended up losing to Southern Cal in the Rose Bowl. Still think they should have been rematched for the national title?

The rematch wannabes argue that certain things can happen down the stretch to make LSU-Alabama II the proper scenario. That would first of all require that all the other undefeated teams suffer a loss somewhere in the next month. Oklahoma State and Stanford have a couple of tough matchups that could threaten their unblemished status. Remaining perfect is by all means no guarantee for either.

But current No. 5 Boise State has some pretty strong odds of staying undefeated against a less-than-daunting schedule. Many claim a one-loss Alabama is better than a spotless Boise, and they might be right.

But how are you going to grant them a second chance over a Broncos team that beat the potential SEC East champ (Georgia) handily on opening day? That would be blatantly admitting that the beauty pageant is rigged before it even starts.

The Crimson Tide, assuming the Tigers hold serve, won’t even win their own division. It won’t even compete for the SEC title.

You think that doesn’t matter? Nebraska got to play for all the marbles in 2001 despite not playing in the Big 12 title game. Even before the Cornhuskers got waxed by Miami in the Rose Bowl, their presence created an outcry that caused one of the many overhauls of the terminally flawed BCS ranking system.

Just ask Georgia if not playing for the conference title matters. In the 2007 season, Georgia entered the final week of the season ranked No. 4 in the BCS polls. When the No. 1 and 2 teams lost, the Bulldogs seemed like a logical choice to climb into the No. 2 spot and earn a shot against Ohio State for the title.

But Georgia and Tennessee both had two losses and the Vols represented the SEC East in the title game based on its head-to-head win. The pollsters balked at the idea of having a BCS finalist – even from the vaunted SEC – play for the national championship when it didn’t even play for its conference championship. So they jiggered the voting to make sure No. 7 LSU, No. 6 Virginia Tech and No. 9 Oklahoma (each with two losses as well) jumped the Bulldogs in the final poll, with the Tigers getting the BCS game berth and the eventual national title.

Why should the Crimson Tide deserve better? For that matter, they shouldn’t even get consideration for the BCS title game even if LSU somehow managed against all odds to lose in the SEC championship game. The way the system is set now, you simply can’t be allowed to win a national title if you don’t win a conference title.

Period. End of argument.

I get why people are talking about it. LSU and Alabama are obviously the class of college football in 2011. They are stocked with future NFL players and both play suffocating defense. You could pit them against each other 12 times in various locations and they might split 50/50.

“You’d like to see this game over and over again, so maybe you will see it again in the BCS,” Alabama star running back Trent Richardson said this week.

As much as people might like to see that, it shouldn’t happen.

The way the cards are dealt now, you get one shot. LSU won. Alabama lost. The Crimson Tide doesn’t deserve a second chance over somebody else who hasn’t been given a first opportunity at the Tigers.