Winning Out Doesn’t Guarantee Georgia a Slot in the National Championship
Over the coming days (and possibly more often in the future) Ryan Cranford of Gotta Support ‘Em and I will be having a dialogue. He was gracious enough to stop by DudeYouCrazy to share his thoughts on the National Championship hunt and I’ll be darkening his doors shortly. If you do not already do so, subscribe to Gotta Support ‘Em and be sure to check out Ryan’s work and the story behind his blog’s name.
As I perused though my morning readings yesterday, I came across the notion we’ve all try to prognosticate in any situation possible which was put to paper in DudeYouCrazy’s post concerning the Bulldog’s redemption game in Jacksonville possible leading to a crack at reaching the National Title. This sparked a good conversation via Twitter and we reached this eventual debate which we’ve decided to outline in a little deeper fashion. No one could be happier that we’re potentially back in the mix to handle our own business and have a shot at Miami, I just think it may be a little more difficult at this point given the current circumstances.
Now I’m not saying we’re going to reach, or not reach the game as that has way too much left to be determined. We all know that’s getting a little ahead of ourselves and we try to survey this notion with the right mindset. However, it did spark my thinking as to if things play out in a few ways whether we can assume (given the current rankings scenario) if a one-loss SEC team actually would get the crack to go to Miami this year over some non-SEC undefeated teams. Obviously there’s the probability that one of Notre Dame, Kansas State, or Oregon lose along the way, and of course it assumes a great deal that someone will scoot by Bama. I’m not trying to work Georgia into the game, but more so examining whether a one-loss team from our conference would reach the game via the BCS over the other potential undefeated teams. It wouldn’t have to be Georgia either… LSU could get a win Saturday, UGA could drop one of its next two and Florida get a crack, etc.
Let’s play the game of what if, assuming that Georgia beat Bama in Atlanta or LSU beat Bama this weekend and won the SEC Championship as I feel these are the most likely scenarios to spark the debate that would ensue at the end of the regular season. The big notch on the belt for these two teams would be beating Alabama who everyone views as the number one team in the country, which would be the strongest component of any resume. Unfortunately for Georgia or LSU fans in this scenario, I think that this may be the year that the SEC doesn’t get the love we all think it deserves at the end of the season. Furthermore for sake of the argument let’s assume two of ND, K State, and Oregon finish undefeated.
The first reason I think might be a little more difficult this year is the hatred that the rest of the country has given the result of last year’s National Title game and subsequent hype around the SEC. The nation was spurned with Oklahoma State not getting a crack to end the SEC’s reign of terror on consecutive national championship as the Bama-LSU matchup ensured another one. While we in our conference know what our slate mandates for you to get in and we feel the teams deserve it, the rest of the country hates it. The country, and more importantly the media, would pick up the debate and run with the argument of whether or not the SEC deserves to get a chance once again when there are at least two teams with unblemished records that had done all that was asked of them.
The second thing to keep in mind is that there is a very strong human element despite the efforts of the BCS computers to eliminate human variables. Human voted polls make up a strong portion of who finishes in that number two slot. At the end of the season, despite the current rankings, the voters have the ability to put whoever they desire in the number 1 and 2 slots because that’s who they think should play in the NCG. Just look at 2007 when UGA was the next in line to assume the number 2 spot in the final BCS rankings after other teams bit the dust the final week, yet the media immediately starting declaring LSU as the most deserving team for the national title slot. I vividly remember Kirk Herbstreit crowning LSU as the most deserving team on Gameday Final that night, and the rest of the country immediately picked up on this momentum. In the end, the pulse of the country and media carry a great deal of weight in imposing their will on who gets the vote for the number 2 slot, and if the going notion is an anti-SEC bias against a one-loss team getting in over an undefeated that SEC team could be on the outside looking in.
Another aspect to examine is the belief that winning an SEC title automatically puts you in the National Title. Sure this has held serve five of the last six years, but it’s been a very fortunate set of circumstances to get those guys in. For one, the SEC Champ with a worse record has never really had to go up against two undefeated teams from major conferences. Bama didn’t even win the SEC last year and got in somehow because of unique circumstances. In years like 2007, 2010, and even last year in 2011 if Tennessee, S. Carolina, or UGA had beaten their opponent in the Dome there’s no chance that they would get a shot of going to the BCS Championship that year. My goal every year for UGA is for them to win the East, therefore hopefully giving them the shot to go out and win a game to put them in the National Title. You can also win and not go… just look at UGA in 2002 or 2005. If you win the conference with an undefeated record it’s a done deal that you’re going to the ‘ship, but if you have a loss on your record you need the right set of circumstances to still be the team given the nod. This year, if two of the previously mentioned teams finished undefeated (ND, K State, or Oregon) the SEC would have their toughest fight in history to get that team in the NC game, maybe sans Florida when they matched up versus Ohio State. They would have to rely very heavily on the momentum the SEC has built since Auburn’s snub in 2004 and its subsequent six national title’s to add fuel to the fire and get them in.
The last aspect that’s tough this year is the fact that the three undefeateds in the mix (I’m not counting Louisville, sorry) have pretty strong resumes. All three teams have beaten ranked opponents, and aren’t your run of the mill Boise State or TCU Cinderella story. It would be hard pressed for a voter to assume that just because a team played in a harder conference their one loss outweighs an undefeated team from the Big 12 or Pac 12, as both are solid conferences. Furthermore looking at the remaining schedules if any of the three went through with a clean slate, they’d have even more impressive resumes.
- ND Remaining Games – Pitt, at Boston College, Wake, and at #17 USC
- Kansas State Remaining Games – #24 OK State, at TCU, at Baylor, #23 Texas
- Oregon Remaining Games – at #17 USC, at Cal, #14 Stanford, and at #11 Oregon State plus the Pac 12 Championship
While we can always argue the SEC Schedule, the other conference contenders have some decent cases this year.
In conclusion obviously there’s a lot to be played out, and no one is arguing that this isn’t the case. Someone, probably two teams out of the undefeateds will probably drop a game along the way. It’s also a lot to assume that UGA or LSU could beat Bama and therefore enter the conversation. Heck, even Florida would be in the mix if UGA dropped one of its next two which we’re assuming they win. It’s just a debate for debates sake and that’s why we love college football, because we always try to believe anything could be possible for our teams if the pieces fell the right way.
I know as well as anyone what it takes to be SEC Champion, and there’s no denying I would fight tooth and nail in an argument to the cause of that team deserving a birth in Miami. I’m just stating the other side of the debate at this point for arguments sake that it may winning the SEC Championship by someone outside of Bama won’t guarantee a National Title berth this year. I’m not trying to justify the movement, just present to potential opinion. We’ll have to hope for the media to swing things the right direction, other teams to take care of some business (or lack thereof), and the previous bad luck of the Dawgs’ involvement in the National Title scenarios to go by the wayside. Let’s hope the cookie crumbles a little differently, and that we can keep the hope alive that we still have a shot at reaching Miami.