Keeping Score

Alabama’s BCS Win: A Fitting End to a Subpar Bowl Season

With ticket sales down and other teams feeling snubbed, it might be time to reevaluate the Bowl Championship Series

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Andy Lyons / Getty Images

Dre Kirkpatrick #21 and Darius Hanks #15 of the Alabama Crimson Tide celebrate after defeating Louisiana State University Tigers in the BCS National Championship Game. Alabama won the game by a score of 21-0

Well, Alabama’s defense sure is strong.

As a takeaway from the BCS national-championship game Monday night, that’s not too thrilling. But what else can you say about Alabama’s 21-0 win over LSU? The regular-season matchup between these two Southeastern Conference powers, played on Nov. 5, was dubbed the Game of the Century. Though LSU’s 9-6 win over Alabama did not live up to the name — a single touchdown would have helped — at least it was close. The rematch, which featured five field goals and a touchdown with a missed extra point, all by the same team, was a snore.

But it was a fitting end to a subpar bowl season — and a somewhat sordid college season overall. On the day of the first Alabama-LSU game, the Penn State child-sex-abuse scandal broke and overshadowed everything else on the field. Even before the Penn State news, the 2011 campaign had been tainted by reports of rule-breaking at Ohio State, Oregon and the University of Miami, backstabbing between schools in the conference-realignment race and a bar fight that led to the suspension of two LSU players at the beginning of the year.

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According to USA Today, regular-season attendance dropped for Division 1-A games to 46,030 a game, down 602 from a year earlier. Sure, that’s not a huge dip, but before attendance declines in two of the past three years, college-football attendance had grown for 12 straight seasons. Average bowl attendance hit a 33-year low this season. This year’s Orange Bowl, in which West Virginia routed Clemson 70-33, was the lowest-rated game in the 14-year history of the BCS. Going into the Jan. 9 championship game, ratings for all BCS bowl games were down 10% from last season and 21% from two years ago.

And as usual, since college football has no playoffs, a team left out of the BCS title game feels snubbed. This year, Oklahoma State University, which finished third in the polls and beat Stanford in a 41-38 overtime thriller in the Fiesta Bowl, got jilted: Why didn’t the Cowboys deserve a shot at beating Alabama?

They do. Public opinion, as evidenced by the usual chatter and by sagging bowl ratings, is clamoring for postseason reform. BCS officials are meeting in New Orleans this week to discuss possible fixes, and there’s hope that change is imminent. It can’t come soon enough.

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