Holtz: Bama Still the Second-Best Team
The BCS championship game is set, and yet the argument still persists that the most worthy teams aren't in it.
Although most college football experts are sold on the Auburn Tigers as being the No 2 team in the country, former Nôtre Dame coach Lou Holtz says Alabama is still the second best team in the country.
"Yes, there is some doubt in my mind," Holtz said. "I still have to favor Alabama some. Let's remember: for 59 minutes and 59 seconds, they played Auburn on an equal basis in Auburn in a hostile environment."
True. But what Coach Holtz failed to mention is that Auburn made the plays, won the SEC, and deserves to be in the BCS Championship game.
Of course, in the name of advocacy programing that is so emphasized on ESPN, Mark May came to Auburn' defense.
"The way that they've played, no one's stopped this offense," May said. "If I would have told you that this offense would have played Alabama, the No 1 rush defense in the SEC, and Missouri, the No 2 rush defense in the SEC, in back-to-back consecutive weeks and gained over 850 yards combined in those two games, you'd probably say I was crazy. But they did it."
This isn't an old Certs commercial, but in a way, they're both right. They're also both wrong.
Holtz is a classic old-school, eye-test evaluator of college teams. He'll lean toward the traditional teams almost every time. If he has to defend his decisions, he does it with generalisms and platitudes. His pool of worthy schools will always start with Alabama, Texas, USC, Ohio State, Nôtre Dame, Florida State, and Michigan. As a successful motivational speaker, he can make a positive case for virtually all of them. It wouldn't be a surprise if he simply picked from best records and if two teams had the same won-loss counts -- like, say, Auburn and Alabama -- he'd go with the traditional brand.
In fact, he just did.
Holtz isn't alone. Remember Jim Walden, the former Washington State and Iowa State coach? He's one of the 'experts' that make up the Harris Poll, the results of which count for one-third of the scoring for BCS rankings. He voted Central Florida as No 6 in the nation and put three MAC teams -- Northern Illinois, Bowling Green, and Ball State -- in his Top 25.
Who's to say he's wrong? Maybe he's got that insider's insight that coaches are presumed to have. Then again, put season won-loss records next to each school on his list, and it's plain to see Walden simply ranked most of them in that order. It begs the question, is 11-1 Fresno State that unfashionable that it's ranked behind two-loss teams?
It's votes like that -- and anti-votes, if you count coaches who downgrade their rivals -- that helped put Northern Illinois in the Orange Bowl last season.
And people wonder why the Rose Bowl, Big Ten, and Pac-12 have never liked the BCS system. The bowl lives in fear that something like that will happen to it, and the two conferences -- with their predominance in most of the nation's top media markets -- saw no reason to rock the boat on their cash cow.
We can only hope that the selection committee choosing the four playoff teams from next season onward has more people who think like Mark May instead of old coaches like Holtz and Walden.