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Summing Up What's Wrong With College Football

A recent article headline on ESPN once again implies what we all realize.
Three footballs next to a pylon

(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

ESPN has been going through its 20 Teams That Can Win It All the past few months, and yesterday they featured a long piece on Georgia's BCS title chances.

I read the whole article, which explains that Georgia's defense and running game are top notch, but I didn't have to get past the headline to understand why Georgia actually DOES have a chance to compete for the national championship in January.

I'll preface this by reassuring you all that I do realize how difficult it is to play in the SEC, and that any SEC schedule is probably more difficult than any other conference slate. That being said, the Bulldogs got hooked up this year by the schedule-makers. For the second straight year, Georgia avoids regular-season matchups with Alabama, LSU (they played in the SEC Championship last year) and Arkansas. Those three teams finished the polls #1, #2 and #5, respectively last season.

A year ago, Georgia opened the 2011 season with a 35-21 loss to Boise State, and then lost a 45-42 thriller to South Carolina the following week. The Bulldogs then reeled off ten straight victories, claiming the SEC East title along the way before falling to LSU in the SEC championship game. Despite this impressive run, UGA never even had a chance at crawling back into the national title picture - no team with a two game losing streak during the season has ever participated in the BCS National Championship. Had the Bulldogs simply scheduled a cupcake the opening weekend instead of Boise State, they’d have been at least in the BCS discussion heading into the LSU clash.

Ok fine, so I’m not the first to conclude that losing a non-conference game usually dooms your title chances in college football. But what’s alarming is that ESPN is insinuating (and this is 100% right) that because Georgia doesn’t have to play any of the trio of LSU, Bama or Arkansas, and it doesn’t have a marquee non-conference matchup (UGA has beaten G-Tech ten of the past eleven games, so we won’t count that), that it actually has a better chance at playing for the BCS title. Of course, that would require UGA to defeat one of its SEC West opponents in the SEC Championship Game, but winning one game at that level of competition is certainly easier than winning three or four. Make no mistake, playing an easier schedule and posting an undefeated record against weaker competition is the easiest recipe for BCS success – at least if you play in the SEC. This seems obvious to those of us who watch college football, but have you ever stopped to think about it? Could you really explain this logically to someone who has never heard of the BCS before?

In college basketball, the NCAA selection committee has clearly shown the past ten years that a difficult non-conference schedule is essential to receiving a top seed. Yet in college football, the NCAA is basically saying “don’t schedule anyone too difficult, because even a loss to a good team could doom you.” “Oh, and if you get lucky and don’t have to play the other top teams in your own conference, that’ll probably help too.” So Georgia, with easier non-conference games, and a favorable in-conference schedule, has the inside track to reach the 2012 BCS National Championship Game. If that makes sense to you, you’re either related to Jim Delany or you’ve been watching this game way too long.