Personally, I was hoping the Florida Gators would do something like this. They flat-out stomped the highly-favored and apparently-overrated Ohio State Buckeyes 41-14, and so laid claim to the National Championship in College Football. Unfortunately for Florida, they did not prove that they really were the best team. While the Gators played a great game, all they really did was prove, once again, that Division I-A NCAA Football can never claim an authentic “champion”, unless and until they establish a playoff, as is done with every other NCAA sport, and every division in NCAA Football except Division I-A.
The University of Florida finished 13-1, losing only to Auburn. Auburn, for its part, finished 11-2, losing to Arkansas and Georgia, but 1 loss is awfully close to 2 losses, and Florida cannot simply brush off the loss to Auburn as irrelevant; at the least it proves that Florida could not beat every opponent it faced. The only team that can say that is Boise State, from the WAC. The WAC, of course, has never been a favorite of Football’s Snob Society; years ago Brigham Young had a number of teams with records and stats as good as any team, yet they were always locked out of a National Championship chance, simply for being BYU. Auburn, who beat this year’s Pretender to the throne, was itself undefeated in 2004 but not allowed a shot, again because men who cared about money rather than honor refused to do the right thing. So, while pollsters will grudgingly allow that Boise State had a good team, no one in a position of power has suggested that they were hosed, even though millions of football fans know that for a fact.
Since teams that lose can be considered above the one undefeated team for a national championship, we should also consider that Wisconsin finished 12-1, as did Louisville, and of course Ohio State. If there’s going to be a mulligan, then we have at least five teams who can all make a valid claim to number 1. And if one loss is really the same thing – as we seem to hear argued – as no losses, then we must in fairness consider the two-loss teams, which would bring in Auburn (who beat Florida), LSU, USC, Michigan, West Virginia, Rutgers, TCU and BYU. That gives us thirteen teams with a claim to the title in some fashion or another. It’s been obvious for decades, but this year as much as ever; If there is no playoff, no team can rightfully claim to be the Champion.