America has a leadership problem.

For years now, we have seen the same old ideas win. This year was supposed to be different, but if last weekend taught us anything, it’s that we could be in store for just more of the same.

For two terms – well years, actually – America has been put through the agony of watching Ohio State in the BCS championship game. We saw Chris Leak and Tim Tebow torch the Buckeyes two years ago, and last year, we watched them shoot themselves in the foot time and time again against LSU, making mistakes that would be unacceptable even in high school.

This year Southern California was supposed to take care of the Buckeyes in their Sept. 13 contest, then someone – most likely the Trojans – was to take charge and ensure that there was not another big-game blasting of the Buckeyes.

It was all going according to plan, too. USC looked like Russell Crowe in Gladiator as it romped the Beanie Wells-less Ohio State at the Coliseum. Jim Tressel and his boys plummeted in the rankings to No. 14, and it looked like there was finally change we could believe in.

Then came last weekend.

It started last Thursday when USC was dropped by Oregon State. The talk on Saturday morning shifted away from the Trojans toward the other BCS contenders – all of whom, according to many commentators, were not going to be bit by the upset bug with the top spot on the line. Saturday came and seven ranked teams lost, including Florida – on a blocked point – to unranked Ole Miss. So did Wisconsin, who was supposed to contend for the Big 10 title but couldn’t even beat an average Michigan team at home. To cap it off, Alabama pasted Georgia between the hedges, knocking the Bulldogs out of the ranks of the undefeated.

Now the question needs to be asked: Can anyone stop Ohio State from snaking its way into another BCS championship game?

Even with their incredible come-from-behind upset of Wisconsin, RichRod and the Wolverines will be hard pressed to beat the Buckeyes this year. The next best contender right now in the Big 10 then would be Penn State, fresh off of its home win over Illinois. Beating Illinois in primetime at home in front of a “white-out” crowd is one thing, but traveling to Columbus to play a team which should have a healthy Beanie by that point will be a much tougher challenge. JoePa’s Nittany Lions have looked good, but they have not seen a defense that can even compare with the Buckeyes.

The Big 12 has four teams in the top 10, but, like with Southeastern Conference teams every year, they will spend the conference schedule offing each other as if they’re in a Scorsese film. Besides, Oklahoma might be the only program that has failed more consistently in the BCS recently than Ohio State.

Alabama is the flavor of the week in the SEC right now after their win against Georgia, but for as incredible as they looked in the first half against the Bulldogs, they looked just as beatable in the second half. Alabama created a lot of buzz last year, too – until they collapsed during the second half of the season. Then the chill of November came, freezing the Tide in place as they dropped all four games in the month, including one against – take a deep breath, Alabama fans – Louisiana-Monroe.

Now even Urban Meyer, who invented the spread option and the forward pass during the 2006 season, suddenly looks like any other coach. In fact, the Gators have gone 3-2 dating back to their Capital One Bowl loss to unranked Michigan to end last season.

So here we sit at the crossroads in the history of college football. Ohio State may have the most national title game experience, but can we afford to choose more of the same? Even the Buckeye fans have to want them to miss out on the big one. They remember the Fiesta Bowl in 2006. Beating up on Notre Dame had to be more fun than finishing a distant runner-up to the champs. Unfortunately, for Ohio State fans and foes alike, if Wells comes back and jump starts the Buckeyes down the stretch, they could find themselves in the national title game again.

There is hope though. Louisiana State, the defending national champion, is undefeated heading into this weekend’s contest against SEC frat brother Florida, and Mack Brown has quietly helped Texas to a 4-0 start and No. 5 ranking.

There is hope that change is on the way. Hope that the failings of the past two years could soon be behind us. Is it change we can believe in it? I sure hope so.

Ryan Travers is a junior in the College. He can be reached at traversthehoya.com. Illegal Procedure appears in every other Friday issue of HOYA SPORTS.

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