The placeholder national title trophy given to LSU while the NCAA completes the Tigers' crystal football. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Why I'm ok with OK State
SEC fans should hope that Oklahoma State leapfrogs Alabama into the national title game, while SEC haters should cross their fingers and hope for an LSU-Alabama championship. Though this seems counter-intuitive, it is pretty simple when you think about it.
The current BCS system is very good to the SEC. The conference has won the last five championships, and most expect that streak to soon reach six. It has reached a point where it is difficult to envision a BCS championship game without the SEC champ. Though South Carolina has yet to win the title, the national acclaim and exposure for the conference has certainly been a factor in our improved recruiting and ability to surpass Clemson.
The SEC's success has also led to widespread resentment from fans and administrators across the nation, especially those in the winter wasteland home of the Big Ten, once the SEC's closest rival. Though the Big Ten is no longer perceived to be the SEC's equal, the conference still holds more power than any of the other non-SEC leagues. If the BCS goes away, the Big Ten will certainly do what it can to shackle the SEC in whatever system follows.
An all-SEC title game when a sizable portion of the nation believes there is a better alternative will likely speed the demise of the BCS. Whatever follows will almost certainly be worse for the SEC and for South Carolina. Thus, SEC fans should cheer for an Oklahoma State title game appearance to protect the longterm best interests of the conference - preserving a system that practically guarantees the SEC champion a spot in the national championship game.
Throughout my ongoing disagreement with Gamecock Man over the merits of Alabama vs. Oklahoma State, I stressed that the Cowboys' resume was incomplete.
Oklahoma State now has a complete resume, and I can understand why some would now make the case that they are the second best team in the nation. The Cowboys ran roughshod over most of their schedule. Aside from the loss to Iowa State, only Kansas State finished within a single score of Oklahoma State. If the voters and the BCS ultimately opt for Oklahoma State, I am fine with that, though I think Alabama is still the number two team in the nation.
The strongest argument against Alabama is that their rematch would be unfair to LSU. Had the Tide won 9-6 in OT at home, you could contend that the home crowd was the difference and LSU deserved a shot on a (semi)neutral field. With the Bayou Bengals having already been forced to go on the road to defeat Alabama once, I don't think it is fair to LSU to ask them to defeat the Tide once more to be crowned champions. I can accept this anti-Alabama argument as well, as I essentially view it as a pro-LSU argument at Alabama's expense.
However, I think the best argument for Oklahoma State to make the BCS title game is that their appearance is ultimately better for the South Carolina and the rest of the SEC. I still think Alabama is at worst the second best team in the nation, but it is (finally) their turn to take one for the team.
If Oklahoma State makes the championship game, I will gleefully cheer for the Cowboys' destruction, hoping in vain that everyday fans will ultimately figure out that pointsplosions against inferior defenses do not always equate to high level ability, and looking forward to a day when South Carolina will not only crush the best of lesser leagues, but defeat the rest of the SEC as well. When that day comes, we will move on from Atlanta to our victory lap in whatever city hosts the coronation that has become an SEC champion's birthright.