Surely, anyone who watched the Big Ten Championship game on Saturday night knows that Nebraska doesn’t deserve the opportunity to play in a BCS bowl game.
I mean, sfter a 70-31 shellacking in the conference title game, it’s warranted that folks wad up the resume titled “Nebraska Cornhuskers – Football” and toss it into a waste basket, right?
As Lee Corso would say, “not so fast, my friend.”
Saturday night’s embarrassment to the Big Ten Conference’s football legacy is the exact reason I find conference championship games absurd. Not because of what Wisconsin did to the Huskers on a national stage, but what the result meant.
Wisconsin finished the season with a modest 8-5 record (including the championship game), 4-4 in conference play. That was good enough for third place in the Big Ten Leaders division. Arguably the worst division in all of major college football this season. Meanwhile, Nebraska finishes the year 10-3 and 7-1 in the Big Ten, with the only loss coming against the undefeated Ohio State Buckeyes.
And the end result?
Because of one game, the Badgers are headed back to the Rose Bowl as the only Big Ten team to represent the conference in the BCS this year.
What happened to the legitimacy of the regular season? Why does everything come down to one game?
I understand that money is the driving force in all of this, and greed rules all in the world of collegiate and professional sports, but at the college level, is it really fair to put the accomplishments of one team on the line in a single game?
There are many examples that I could use to prove that the college football conference championship game is flawed, but I will stick with this year’s Big Ten title game because it is fresh in everyone’s mind.
Nebraska did almost everything it needed to do to earn a trip to the Rose Bowl this year. Nebraska won its division outright, defeating everyone else in the Legends division. The Huskers even defeated Wisconsin earlier this season in a close game in Lincoln.
But after all the accomplishments of a great season and earning the right to call themselves the Big Ten football champions, the Huskers had one slip at the end of the season, and it cost them everything.
I guess you could say that the guys at Nebraska knew this would be the case. They had to take care of Wisconsin again or the Big Ten’s lone 10-win team (excluding the ineligible Buckeyes), would be left out of the BCS conversation.
But does it validate the weight of one game? Just because it holds the title “Big Ten Championship,” it overrides the success a team had in a season, all because of one game where Wisconsin got hot and Nebraska had no answer.
It’s not just the Big Ten that has the issue, it’s all over college football.
With all the conference expansion and teams joining major conferences, a championship game seems like the only feasible way to determine a BCS representative on a yearly basis. But it’s bogus. Why can’t we base success off of the regular season and allow the BCS, a money hungry system anyway, to develop a college football championship playoff system?
That’s what we all want in the end, anyway. And for those of you calling me a hypocrite, it would at least allow the teams who earned the right to compete for a national championship a chance to do so.
But it will probably never come down to the regular season ever again.
I suppose that’s just the way college athletics are these days. Work hard and be at the top by the team the season ends, that way you get the opportunity to compete for a conference title. It has little to do with what a team accomplishes during a season and more about ticket sales, concession money, and the number of programs sold at the “marquee event” held at the end of the season.
I guess there’s nothing left to do but to watch Wisconsin showcase its talents in the Rose Bowl game on New Year’s Day and hope that they don’t completely embarrass the conference in Pasadena.
And if they do, just remember, it should have been the Nebraska Cornhuskers opportunity to do so.