Let’s pretend to sympathize with the latest round of hue and cry against the evil BCS system.
It’s hard. Who in SEC country wants change when the system is about to produce the league’s sixth consecutive BCS title?
But consider that Alabama very nearly was No. 3 in the BCS standings this year and finished No. 2 by the slimmest margin since the BCS reconfigured its formula for determining title-game teams in 2004.
And while on the subject of 2004, everyone remembers how then-undefeated Auburn found itself on the outside looking in.
Oh, and college football runs in cycles. The SEC’s run will end, and it could be your favorite team that winds up third or fourth in the BCS standings.
So, let’s pretend to care, because there’s a solution. It’s already been proposed. It just takes all of those conferences who blocked it to come around.
Yes, we’re talking to you, Big 12, home of almost-No. 2 Oklahoma State, this year’s version of 2004 Auburn.
We’re talking to you Pac-12, home to BCS No. 4 Stanford.
We’re talking to the always obstinate Big Ten, soon to be flanked by the suddenly continental Big East.
Yes, from Big East coast to shining Big East coast, all we need for a more perfect college football world is for conferences seething over an All-SEC BCS final to swallow pride and give the SEC commissioner Mike Slive what he proposed in 2008.
Yes, the plus-one format is back and getting overdue love.
SI.com’s Andy Staples reports that a Monday straw poll of Big 12 athletics directors produced support for a plus-one. Would the league’s presidents agree?
Well, the number of SEC teams playing for the national title equals the number the Big 12 just bled to the SEC, so maybe.
The Seattle Times reports that a majority of Pac-12 and Big Ten athletics directors voted for a plus-one in a similar straw poll this past summer.
The Atlantic Coast Conference supported the plus-one in 2008, so things just might be breaking for the best idea for determining a national champion since the BCS at least guaranteed a No. 1 vs. No. 2 game.
Devils hide in the details, and monied interests overrun college football, but the basic idea of four seeded teams playing a semifinal for the chance to play in the title game shrinks controversy from Big East size to Big 12 size.
This year, you’d see BCS No. 1 LSU playing No. 4 Stanford and No. 2 Alabama playing No. 3 Oklahoma State. That setup likely still produces an Alabama-LSU final, but at least Oklahoma State and Stanford would have had their shot.
No. 5 Oregon beat Stanford this season, so the Ducks would cry foul. But controversy over who’s No. 5 is easier to take than persistent national angst over which two teams get to play for the title.
Assuming that Slive still has interest in the plus-one --- and his league will support change that would seem to benefit other leagues more --- he should strike quickly.
Slive should go all bully pulpit and with his proposal again while teeth are gnashing. Like Nixon to China, he should go to Stillwater, Okla. and deliver the plus-one pitch --- sooner than later.
What a nice follow-up act for the commissioner who set a “national agenda for change” at SEC Media Days, goosing quick action on some proposals.
After two years of college football scandals, greed-driven conference realignment and another unpopular BCS outcome, quick action on a plus-one would give the sport what it needs.
College football fans need to feel like something’s right with the sport, and a more just system for determining a national champion would alleviate a chief cause of festering cynicism.
Joe Medley is The Star’s sports columnist. He can be reached at 256-235-3576 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @jmedley_star.