Here's something I meant to put up earlier — suppose we went back to old bowl tie-ins the way they were, before the public outcry created the monster that is now the BCS?
It obviously takes some thought and speculation. Here's what I think it would look like:
Rose Bowl: Penn St. vs USC
Thoughts: This one was easy. Automatic bids to two conference champs. It gets more difficult after this.
Sugar Bowl: Florida vs. Texas
Thoughts: A great game, obviously. Florida gets the automatic bid from the SEC, and since Texas isn't a conference champ, they're basically a free agent. The Sugar is the best option for them from a geographic and profile standpoint.
Orange Bowl: Oklahoma vs. Alabama
Thoughts: I waffled on this one between the Tide and Ohio St. Ultimately, I think the Orange would take a one-loss team that was ranked number one most of the season over a two-loss team that has benefited from a weak conference and has embarrassed itself in January the last two seasons.
Fiesta Bowl: Utah vs. Boise St.
Thoughts: Again, Ohio St. is out there, but if you take them, you're basically just doing it for the name. I say the Fiesta grabs two undefeateds, so they can have an undefeated winner.
Final thought: In this scenario, you're basically guaranteeing a split national champ. If OU beats 'Bama in the Orange, and Texas beats Florida in the Sugar (two big ifs, obviously) Texas likely grabs at least one of the polls because of the head-to-head. OU and Florida would both claim shares if they won. And suppose Texas and 'Bama pull upsets — wouldn't there be an overwhelming clamor for USC to receive some votes?
It was this system that caused us so much angst and created the stir that ultimately spawned the BCS after Penn St. and Nebraska didn't play for the title in 1994 (Nebraska won both polls), and then Nebraska and Michigan didn't play for the title in '97 (they split).
Is the old system better than what we have now? I'm not sure. The old system was at least based on the unique traditions of college football. The problem with the BCS is that the gurus are attempting to answer all the questions created by the bowl system while still maintaining those unique traditions. Sorry, guys — it ain't gonna work. You either go all-in here, or you fold.
Just my opinion, obviously.