Hey, LSU fans.
BCS guru Jerry Palm has some bad news and good news for you.
The bad: Even if the Tigers run the table, which would mean beating Florida on Saturday, and then Alabama, Texas A&M and mostly likely Georgia in the SEC Championship Game, at present they have absolutely no chance of playing for the final BCS title.
The good: These things have a way of working themselves out. Witness what happened in 2003, 2007, and, much to the chagrin of Tiger Nation, for Alabama in 2011.
So don’t fret about there still being 17 remaining FBS unbeatens. Attrition, thanks to them playing each other or through unexpected methods (Who can forget Pittsburgh over West Virginia in ’07?), has a way of opening doors for others.
“If there are two undefeated teams from the other major conferences, a one-loss SEC champion isn’t going to get in,” said Palm, who now works for CBS Sports. “No matter how strong that team is, the voters (from the coaches and Harris poll) are just not going to put them ahead of an undefeated team, and the computers wouldn’t be enough to override them.
“Or at least that’s never happened before, so there’s no reason to think it will now.”
Indeed, in the previous 15 years of the BCS Follies, no once-beaten SEC team, or a once-beaten team from any other automatic qualifying league for that matter, has ever bumped an AQ unbeaten out of the title game.
And despite history saying otherwise, this looks like the year when the Big Ten (Ohio State, Michigan), Pac-12 (Stanford, Oregon, UCLA), Big 12 (Oklahoma, Baylor, Texas Tech) and ACC (Clemson, Florida State, Miami) all have teams that could wind up as unbeaten champions.
And don’t forget Louisville, although Palm contends that because of the diminished status of the former Big East, now known as the American Athletic Conference, along with a dreadful strength of schedule means the Cardinals will have to be the only unbeaten AQ to have a shot.
Plus, there’s the factor of a backlash against LSU due to the SEC’s producing the past seven national champions, with the logic being that it’s somebody else’s turn.
At any rate, it’s hard to see any of the current unbeatens losing to anyone but each other. And if there are four, three or even two unbeatens left standing, the best case scenario for the Tigers is the Allstate Sugar Bowl.
So isn’t it great, then, that next year there will be a four-team playoff with the participants picked by a knowledgeable selection panel, meaning that all injustices will be eliminated?
“We don’t know how well it will work,” Palm said. “That’s not being disrespectful to anyone on the committee, because for the most part it looks like they’re putting together a pretty good group.
“They may not go strictly by the polls, and I don’t think they’ll disrespect an unbeaten team from a major conference. But I think they’re going to find that four teams aren’t enough, and there’s going to be a lot of screaming and hollering that No. 5 was better than No. 4 or No. 3, and history has shown that’s the case much of the time because it’s so arbitrary.”
Another problem with the selection panel, Palm sees, is that the plan is to issue standings starting at midseason, just as the BCS has done.
“Teams are going to get slotted, and unless the teams ahead of them lose, they’re going to fall into ‘poll think,’” he said. “How are they going to explain a team that’s No. 5 passing No. 4 in the final week if they both win?
“The NCAA basketball committee doesn’t do weekly seedings. Hopefully, they will be able to avoid the stupid stuff that goes on in polls, but a lot of it is just human nature.”
That’s a year from now though.
For now, the task at hand for LSU is to just keep winning and count on history again doing its thing.