Delany has no
patience for arguments that a plus-one could ratchet up interest in the game
even further. Yes, March Madness is sublime, he agrees, but the frenzy it
creates comes at a high price. "Look what it's done to the regular season.
There's only one game in the country that carries a premium: Duke--North
Clamor for a
playoff built steadily from 2000 to '04, as a series of worthy teams—Oregon,
USC and Auburn—were excluded from the title game. But in '05 the blind squirrel
found the acorn; the BCS got it right. No. 2 Texas' 41--38 win over top-ranked
USC was one of the best college games ever. But since Longhorns quarterback
Vince Young took over in the Rose Bowl two years ago, it seems that playoff
partisans have been losing ground.
Last year, when it
looked as if Florida might miss out on a berth in the championship game,
university president Bernie Machen took up the playoff banner. When pressure
was brought to bear on him last April, Machen recanted like Frankie (Five
Angels) Pentangeli contradicting his sworn affidavit against the Corleones in
Godfather II. ("I don't know nothin' about that.") On that occasion
last spring, an SEC presidents meeting in Destin, Fla., Machen went in a
passionate advocate for a playoff, only to walk out convinced that "the
best way is to work within the BCS structure."
Machen declined to
be interviewed for this story, anticipating, perhaps, that he would hear the
following admonition: "You had it right the first time, sir."
FOR LSU'S Miles,
Saturday's drama began hours before kickoff. At chapel in the team hotel, a
player said to him, "Sounds like you're catching a plane on
morning, ESPN had reported that Miles was headed to Michigan to replace the
retiring Lloyd Carr. To quash a potentially major distraction, Miles called a
team meeting to assure the Tigers that he wasn't going anywhere. He forcefully
repeated that assertion in a hastily called press conference at the Georgia
Dome. "I have a championship game to play," he said, "and I'm
excited about the opportunity of my damn strong football team to play in
it." He was talking about the SEC championship game, of course. Who could
have predicted that he might as well have been talking about the BCS title
A victory over the
Buckeyes would provide a consolation for Wolverines fans who thought they had
Miles, a Michigan alum and former Wolverines assistant coach, locked up. It
would vindicate his decision to stay in Baton Rouge. The game wouldn't be any
tougher if the Tigers were meeting Ohio State in the final of an eight-team
playoff. It would just be more meaningful.