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Originally published January 5, 2009 at 12:00a.m., updated January 5, 2009 at 03:15p.m.

Keegan

Utah worthy of No. 1

Utah quarterback Brian Johnson kisses his Sugar Bowl MVP trophy after his NCAA football game in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans on Saturday. Utah defeated Alabama 31-17.

Utah quarterback Brian Johnson kisses his Sugar Bowl MVP trophy after his NCAA football game in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans on Saturday. Utah defeated Alabama 31-17.

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You just know that college presidents who cling to an archaic system of picking a football national champion are thinking, “What a fine mess you’ve gotten us into, Utah.”

In contrast, most of the rest of America has to love the Utes for rendering the BCS title game even more inconclusive than it was when it excluded Texas, USC and the rest of the schools that could have made an at least halfway legitimate claim to deserving a shot at the national title.

The Utes just didn’t do their part for the BCS and roll over for Alabama from the mighty Southeastern Conference.

Thanks to the Utes adding a 31-17 victory against Alabama in front of a pro-Crimson Tide crowd in the Sugar Bowl to an already impressive resume there just might be two national champions this year, one crowned by the BCS, the other by Associated Press voters.

Unless Oklahoma wins the BCS title game by a few touchdowns, I can’t see myself putting anyone other than Utah at the top of my final ballot.

As were all AP voters, my e-mail in box was packed with polite lobbying efforts from Utes fans who pointed out that the Mountain West Conference, in which Utah plays, went 8-2 against the Pac-10 and SEC combined. Compelling stuff.

Before comparing Utah to the teams playing in the BCS title game, compare its season to those of Texas and USC.

The Utes went 4-0 against teams that finished the regular season in the AP Top 25. The victories came against No. 4 Alabama, No. 11 TCU, No. 17 Brigham Young and No. 24 Oregon State.

Texas has gone 3-1 against Top-25 teams so far (with a game against No. 10 Ohio State today), with victories against No. 2 Oklahoma, No. 13 Oklahoma State and No. 25 Missouri. Its loss came at Texas Tech.

Slight edge to Utah in that comparison for the simple reason the Utes are undefeated.

USC went 3-1 vs. the Top 25, with victories against No. 6 Penn State, No. 10 Ohio State and No. 15 Oregon and a loss at No. 24 Oregon State.

Convincing advantage to Utah in that comparison, particularly considering the common opponent of Oregon State, though the Utes had the advantage of playing that one at home.

Assuming Florida wins the BCS title game, the Gators would boast a 3-1 record against teams now ranked in the top 25. The victories would have come against No. 2 Oklahoma, No. 4 Alabama and No. 16 Georgia. The loss came at home against Mississippi. The edge goes to Utah.

Now, for the biggest challenge to the Utes’ national-title aspirations: Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain.

With a victory in the title game, the Sooners would have a 6-1 record against these Top 25 teams: No. 1 Florida, No. 8 Texas Tech, No. 11 TCU, No. 12 Cincinnati, No. 13 Oklahoma State and No. 25 Missouri, most of them by big margins. The only loss came against No. 3 Texas on a neutral field. That’s some season.

It’s a joke, of course, that Florida ranks ahead of Oklahoma and is favored to win by 3-1⁄2 points.

Utah ending up No. 1 wouldn’t be a joke. The Utes played like national champions in dominating Alabama.

Comments

Ross Hartley 11 years ago

Oh my god, Keegan got one right!!!!

Lance Hobson 11 years ago

Of course Utah should be No. 1. Is anyone really debating that?

jayhawkr34 11 years ago

before the B(c)S, utah wouldve have been crwned already. once more its about money not records or play on the field. cant wait til the almighty barrack obama lets us have a playoff system......so it is written, so it shall be. and who knows whats best for our country, most of all our college football is a crooked politician.

Joshua Hann 11 years ago

It's ridiculous if Obama sticks his nose in college athletics to implement a better a playoff system. I agree something needs to be done, but with the way the world, let alone our own country, is tumbling right now, is that really what we put him in office to take care of? Same with our congress jumping in on the steroids issue. Not something I enjoy paying tax dollars for. Deal with the real issues. The country has gotten by so far without you dealing with this stuff. We will be fine without you now.

Robert Brock 11 years ago

Nobody should be considered Number One. Scrap this BCS crud and play it off!

Warren 11 years ago

Although I agree with the entire article, why am I confused? Texas beat Ohio State? I thought they played tonight? Don't get me wrong, I think Texas will win the game, but in the article it is listed as fact before they play. Come on Keegan, you are better than that.

justanotherfan 11 years ago

You can't say definitively that Utah would beat Oklahoma or Florida.You can't say definitively that Oklahoma or Florida would beat Utah.You can't say that any of them would beat USC.You can't say that USC or Oklahoma could beat Alabama (though Utah and Florida did).Would Texas beat USC? Would Florida beat Texas? These are questions that you can only answer on the field. Just like basketball, where matchups in the tournament often change the dynamic of the tournament (note that until last year all four #1 seeds had NEVER made the Final Four). It's impossible to pick the national champion without a tournament. I like the 16 team field that has been proposed by several different writers, taking every conference champion that is ranked in the BCS top 25, plus as many at larges as necessary to fill out the final field would work. I would tweak it, however, to include only 3 teams maximum per conference. This would prevent the fourth or fifth best team from a conference from slipping in. This year's field would have been:1. Florida (SEC)2. Oklahoma (Big 12)3. Texas (at large)4. Alabama (at large)5. USC (Pac-10)6. Utah (Mountain West)7. Texas Tech (at large)8. Penn State (Big Ten)9. Boise State (WAC)10. Ohio State (at large)11. TCU (at large)12. Cincinnati (Big East)13. Georgia (at large)14. Georgia Tech (at large)15. BYU (at large)16. Virginia Tech (ACC)First two rounds at campus sites, with the higher seed hosting. Semifinals and Final at neutral sites. It's pretty much a guarantee that the best team in college football is somewhere on that list, and everyone gets a chance to play for it. Even smaller conferences have something to play for. Ball State and Tulsa both would have been playing to stay in the BCS top 25 all year and win their conference to go to the tournament. Yeah, a potential game at Florida or Oklahoma would be the reward, but what is March Madness without the Gonzaga's and Butler's of the world upsetting a few teams. BYU, Oregon, Michigan State, Georgia and Georgia Tech all would have been fighting for the last few spots as the season wound down. Think of how much more important the Georgia Tech-Georgia rivalry game would have been with a potential tournament at large birth on the line. I'm having fun just thinking about it.

JayViking 11 years ago

I thought the Utah - Alabama final score was 31-17?

Marcia Parsons 11 years ago

The NCAA will NEVER give up the bowl system that brings in so much revenue, but surely there's a way to integrate the play-offs into the bowl system. How many bowl games are there anyway, 36 or 37?

easyfive 11 years ago

I wish you space monkeys would quit belly aching about a play off. These kids playing way to many now. If we played with padded jumpsuites with state of the art body brace system. We are playing this game like with no helmets! ...these are kidds not pros. How would you like it, ...have to get hit with a telephone every weekend? I think not... nine games is about right. Or, play a kind of King of the hill at the start of the year. Play one warm up game and go for it...

Ed Fox 11 years ago

Am I misunderstanding this statement?"USC went 3-1 vs. the Top 25, with victories against No. 6 Penn State, No. 10 Ohio State and No. 15 Oregon and a loss at No. 24 Oregon State.Convincing advantage to USC in that comparison, particularly considering the common opponent of Oregon State, though the Utes had the advantage of playing that one at home."Why would there be a convincing advantage to USC in that comparison, when they played a mutual opponent (Oregon State) and Utah won, USC lost? The homefield advantage shouldn't negate a win vs. a loss, should it? Should that read convincing advantage to Utah?

justanotherfan 11 years ago

easyfive,Aside from D-1, every level of college football has a playoff. FCS has a playoff. Their champion went 14-1 I think. D-2 has a playoff. Their champ played 15 games this year. D-3 has a playoff. Their champ plays 14 or 15 games every year. The "too many games" argument doesn't hold water, especially when the players at lower levels, the overwhelming majority of which will NEVER play football again once they graduate, play through the playoffs. It is, as oldalum said, about the money. If FCS, D-2, D-3 and the NAIA can all go through a playoff (some schools with inferior equipment and all with smaller athletic budgets) then D-1 has no excuse, except that they can all make a fortune doing it this way.

Kevin Sontag 11 years ago

easyfive (anonymous) says... "I wish you space monkeys would quit belly aching about a play off. These kids playing way to many now. If we played with padded jumpsuites with state of the art body brace system. We are playing this game like with no helmets! ...these are kidds not pros. How would you like it, ...have to get hit with a telephone every weekend? I think not... nine games is about right. Or, play a kind of King of the hill at the start of the year. Play one warm up game and go for it..."wow... First off, lay off the drink, it's still before noon. Second, most of these college players played a 10-12 game schedule in high school, then the good teams play anywhere from 3-5 games in a playoff. So in high school, they might play around 13 games on average. In the pros, 16 games, minimum. In college, what I think they should do is go back to an 11 game regular season schedule, then have 16 teams in a playoff. That means 100+ teams would play 11-12 games, depending on if they get to a lower bowl. Of the 16 teams that made the playoffs, 12 would finish the season playing 12 or 13 games. Only 4 teams, just four in the entire Division 1 (or FBS as we know it now), would play 14 or 15 games. Wow! A step up from high school, and a step below the pros, just perfect.

Kevin Sontag 11 years ago

Here's something I hate about the BCS. Why bother having the 5 lower conferences in the FBS (formerly Division 1)? If they can't win a national championship by going undefeated, then what's the point? If you have to be in one of the 6 BCS conferences to win the championship, then either move the other 5 conferences to the FCS, or create a new Division for them.What I want: I want all teams to go back to an 11 game regular season schedule. The conferences either ALL have a championship game, or NONE do. For the playoff, 16 teams. 11 teams are the conference champs, again either by conference title game, or by best record during conference play. This way, all FBS schools have a shot at the national championship, like in basketball. The other 5 of them are at-large teams, picked by a committee ala the basketball tourney (or even using the BCS formula). First two games are at the higher seed's home stadium, and the semis and final are at a neutral site. For the teams that dont make the playoff, they still get some of the lower bowls.

Martin Shupert 11 years ago

I'm really tired of hearing about how these players play too many games already. How many days of classes do basketball players miss? LOADS and LOADS. How many days of classes do football players miss? Usually, none... perhaps as few as 3 or less a season. Have the bowls and then, pick 4 teams... nuetral sites... Two, count them... two extra games for two teams in the whole country. Sure the season would be extended a couple weeks for these teams, but it's not final's week... Even an 8 team tournament after the bowls would work just fine and only two teams would have 3 extra games. Is that REALLY a problem?

jayhawkr34 11 years ago

easy calls them "kids", last time i checked when i turned 18 i was considered an adult

bcc 11 years ago

Why is it that if a playoff is made then that will be the end of bowl games? Most of the bowl games don't include top 25 teams. I say you have an 8 or 16 team playoff by using just the computer rankings, no human bias, and have the other bowl like they are now, most are just for the teams fans. Don't have any confrence automatic bids and don't have any maximum teams from a confrence, if your good you should have a chance if you arn't sorry. You could have the 1st round at the higher seeds home field, the second round be the orange bowl, rose bowl and so on. They would have to create two new bowls, $$$$, then have the national championship at a rotating site like it is now. Everyone talks about the money that the bowl games pull in and that is why they won't change the current system, if you ask me the this system presented would bring in more money.

actorman 11 years ago

"who knows whats best for our country, most of all our college football is a crooked politician ..."I don't know why you're bringing this up. GW will be gone in a few weeks, and I doubt that he'd use his last few days to get involved in college football -- you know, too many parts of the constitution he still has left to destroy."I wish you space monkeys would quit belly aching about a play off. These kids playing way to many now ..."Aside from easyfive's apparent inability to properly use the English language, I echo the others who say they're sick and tired of the feeble whine of "They play too many games NOW ..." That argument has been made for years, during which time the NCAA has added: (1) a 12th regular season game for all teams; (2) conference championship games for most conferences; and (3) some early games that don't "count" against the maximum allowed. That enabled, for example, BYU to play 15 games a few years ago. So the argument about teams playing too many games has no credibility whatsoever. If that's really a problem, then go back to the simple 11-game schedule, cut out the extra early-season games and conference championships, and put in a 16-team playoff system. At that point, the most any team could play would be 15 games--the same number that BYU played.As for the perfect system, combine what justanother and tagger wrote and you couldn't ask for a better setup. I can see the argument for bcc's version, but would still prefer the idea of having the 11 conference champions plus a committee to select the remaining five teams, a la the basketball committee. But as long as it was a 16-team playoff, I would be fine with bcc's system too. I do think that it needs to be 16, though; 8 would not be enough to consistently include the Utahs of the world.Sadly, I don't think any of us will see a playoff system in our lifetime.

bg_duck1 11 years ago

WTF is easyfive even talking about?!??!? He sounds more confused than Al Davis

oregonjhawk 11 years ago

I think, more than anything, it's about history and tradition. We'll never have a playoff, so let's go back to the old way of the AP and Coaches championships with bowl games named after fruits and such, not multi-national corporations. I would much rather the Jayhawks be Copper Bowl champions, than Insight(.com) Bowl champions...

KUballer 11 years ago

While I dont think Utah would beat Florida or Oklahoma, (I never thought Alabama was that great) or a couple other BCS teams for that matter, I still think they should get a shot at the National Title. Its unfair for a team to work their butts off all season and win every game they play, just to be overshadowed by the so called "National Champion." I don't get how people can say there shouldn't be a playoff, when everywhere I go, someone is complaining about the BCS. Give the fans what they want. While with a playoff there would still be the occasional team complaining about not getting into the playoff, there would not be any argument over the real National Champion. How would you guys feel if last year a bunch of computers picked two teams to compete for the NCAA basketball title? Thats right. North Carolina vs. Memphis. KU never gets the national title. I would think KU football fans, of all people, would want the playoff. Seeing as unless KU goes undefeated and wins the Big 12 title, they never make it to the national title game. Because Oklahoma or Florida with one loss, looks a whole lot better than KU with one loss. Other than recent history, KU has little football tradition, which is why with a playoff would help us gain some respect if we got in and managed to win a couple games. Not only is it right for Kansas, its right for every university and the fans. There's still going to be people who don't want the playoff for some reason, but compared to the 80 to 90% of people who do? There shouldnt be a doubt.

KUballer 11 years ago

And easyfive, I'm pretty sure you speak from experience when you talk about getting hit with a telephone every weekend. Get off the weed.

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