Sports do not build character. They reveal it.– Heywood Broun
During its much-aligned existence, the BCS always had its critics. In its 16-year run there were countless tweaks to how it operated. Despite the fixes the system was far from perfect, but in its final year the BCS era ends with a bang.
This year’s bowls (Rose, Fiesta, Sugar, Orange) were by far the best series of games the BCS has presented. The Rose Bowl Game presented by Vizio (#5 Stanford vs. #4 Michigan State) was a back and forth game that ended with a brutal defensive stand, which handed the victory to the Michigan State Spartans. Until that last play the game was in doubt.
The Tostitos Fiesta Bowl (#15 UCF vs. #6 Baylor) didn’t have the dramatic alternating lead changes like the Stanford/Michigan State game did, but it featured a huge upset when the BCS buster UCF Knights beat the high-octane offense the Baylor Bears.
Following the New Year’s Day BCS games, the Allstate Sugar Bowl featured the #3, two-time national champion, Alabama Crimson Tide battling the #11 Oklahoma Sooners. This skirmish had four lead changes. Alabama had a chance to tie the game with a touchdown drive during the final 47-seconds; their hopes were dashed when A.J. McCarron coughed up the ball and Geneo Grissom returned the fumble for an eight-yard touchdown. If that wasn’t enough, a botched kickoff recovered by Oklahoma ended any chance for a miracle for the Crimson Tide.
On January 3rd the Discover Orange Bowl hosted the #7 Ohio State Buckeyes verses the #12 Clemson Tigers. This game featured more than a 1000-yards of offense and four lead changes. The game was sealed when Stephone Anthony intercepted Braxton Miller’s pass at Clemson’s 39-yard line with 87-seconds remaining in the game.
The BCS Championship Game couldn’t have been scripted any better. #1 Florida State Seminoles and #2 Auburn Tigers colliding for the ultimate prize: The NCAA Coaches Trophy. This game had it all. One team takes a commanding 21-3 lead early in the game, a valiant come from behind challenge (featuring a 100-yard kickoff return to take the lead), and a championship drive to win the game with only 13-seconds remaining. The heroics of the athletes on both sides were stellar examples of what makes college football special.
These final BCS era games are examples of what college football post-season should be. In many respects, this year’s bowl games raised the bar for what the new playoff system should strive to deliver every year. I believe it’s possible if the new playoff system doesn’t implode under the weight of bias and conference tie-ins that plagued the BCS during its run.