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Ohio State-LSU: The true national title game?

Monday, January 7, 2008

Grab your popcorn, unplug your telephone, and set your DVR or VCR this Monday night. I guarantee that you will have the opportunity to see something you haven't seen in a long time.

The Ohio State University football team is going to actually play a game. 



Following a 50-day layoff, the Buckeyes will take on the LSU Tigers in the BCS National Championship Game. Their layoff will be similar in length to the one they had last season when they faced Florida for the national title. We all remember how well that turned out for the overly rested crimson-clad crew from Columbus. 



It does not really matter to me if the Big Ten champions are shredded by another SEC opponent or if the four and a half point underdogs are able to sneak out of the bayou with a victory. What will chap my bony backside will happen at the conclusion of the game. The graphics guys at Fox Sports will flash a banner under a shot of the winning team's bench that says "2007 NCAA National Champions."

Give me a break. 



Even if these were the undisputed top two teams during the regular season, having them play each other nearly two months after one of them last took the field proves next to nothing about the real college football season. Which by the way ended back around when Jamie Lynn was still considered to be the "wholesome" Spears sister.

The argument for a national tournament in major college football should begin, at least from a competitive standpoint, with the absurdity that the NCAA is willing to award a national championship to a team that has won just one contest in 50 days.

Not only does every other level of NCAA football have a tournament, but in no other NCAA sport at any level can a team win one contest, and subsequently the national title, after that extended of a layoff. 



There's a good reason for that. Fifty days is a long time. In the last fifty days, over half a million babies have been born in the United States, 400 new Starbucks have opened worldwide, and our phone rang 318 times courtesy of presidential campaigns. Seriously, anybody suffering from low self-esteem should move to Iowa during campaign season. I have never felt this popular before in my entire life.

And in the world of athletics, 50 days can be an eternity. Last spring, the Buena Vista University softball team played all of its 30-game schedule in less than 50 days. This past summer, the Colorado Rockies went from fourth place in their division to National League pennant winners in 50 days. In a 50-day span, Ohio State played and won its first eight games of this football season. 



Now Ohio State is trying to figure out how to spend 50 days between games while trying to avoid what happened after last season's 51-day gap between games which was punctuated with a 27-point loss. The Ohio State coaches say their players have had to fight boredom during these long breaks over the past two years. That is an unfair predicament the NCAA has allowed to happen to a team preparing for a national title game. 



Can you imagine if this happened with any other sport? Picture basketball's Final Four spread out from the beginning of April to the middle of May. What if the New England Patriots did not play again until Valentine's Day? Those scenarios are equally as absurd as Ohio State, ranked seventh the last time they played, competing for the first time in over seven weeks with a chance to be called "2007 NCAA National Champions."



Monday's game will do very little for me in the way of proving who the best team was during the season. Still, I will be tuning in. After all, a glorified exhibition 50 days after the 2007 season and 85 days before 2008 spring practice starts is better than no football at all.

* Nick Huber is the former sports information director for Buena Vista University. He and his wife, Ann, reside in Alta.



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