Does Chris Simms deserve a shot at the National Championship? In a word, no. Simms and his Texas Longhorns played an incredibly weak non-conference schedule including Tulane and North Texas, have only beaten one ranked team this fall and choked in their big game against Oklahoma. Still, if Texas wins out, Ohio State loses to ichigan like they do every year it counts, Washington State falls to Washington and Oklahoma loses in the Big XII title game to Colorado, the ‘Horns will undoubtedly be playing Miami in the Fiesta Bowl this January.

Unfathomable? Well, nobody thought Nebraska would make it into the big game last season, and many thought they shouldn’t have when they did. The Hurricanes’ slaughter of the ‘Huskers, combined with Oregon’s big win over Colorado in last year’s Fiesta, caused many on the West Coast to call the whole system a sham. It also made people like me, who had proclaimed the Big XII the best football conference in the land, look like complete idiots. Thanks a lot, Eric Crouch.

Unless Ohio State can remain unbeaten (and if they don’t lose to Michigan, I will wear red and silver to class for a week), we’ll have the same thing we had last season: a bunch of teams with semi-legitimate claims to take on the Hurricanes in the title game. (This is assuming the ‘Canes win their last two games, but Syracuse and Virginia Tech are faltering and Miami is virtually assured a win in both matchups.) Ultimately, it will probably be up to some computer whether Oklahoma or Washington State makes it to Tempe.

This season, something has become abundantly clear: The reason for this type of situation can be blamed directly on the nature of scheduling in college football. First of all, football teams make their schedules years in advance. At the time Miami put Florida, Florida State and Tennessee on its 2002 schedule, Larry Coker must have thought he was guaranteed at least two quality wins in the BCS poll. Instead, Florida is wishing Steve Spurrier was back in town, Florida State is still wondering how the hell they lost to Louisville and Tennessee has been embarrassed more than once in Knoxville this year. Add that to Miami’s always-weak conference schedule, and the ‘Canes were in bad shape before Oklahoma lost to Texas A&M last Saturday.

The role of title games is also something that will need to be examined in the future. Ohio State has been maligned in the second half of the season for not having to play sixth-ranked Iowa, which is clearly the best team in the Big 10 at the moment but lost to Iowa State earlier in the year. A title game would strengthen the Buckeyes’ chances for the national title game. Conversely, conference championships can sink teams as well. The Big XII title game has done so more than once in its short history. Last season, Colorado’s Chris Brown ran all over Texas to sink the ‘Horns’ title hopes and almost got the Buffaloes into the National Championship.

It’s been said before – by myself and others – but I’ll say it again in the context of scheduling. A tournament is the only way to solve college football’s problems. The whole point of a tournament is the same of that of the Bowl Championship Series: to put the two best teams in a championship game. If Miami can’t knock off Notre Dame in the second round on the way to playing Oklahoma (the second best team in the nation, in my opinion) in a championship game, then they don’t deserve to be in the national championship. Instead of just putting the “best team” against the “second best team,” the top 10 teams in the nation need to be thrown together. Only then will this mess sort itself out.

Unless fans start boycotting bowl games, however, the BCS will live on, and kids like me will write columns every year about how my favorite sport to watch on television, college football, ends the season year after year with a tremendous letdown of a game, surrounded by pomp and fanfare, but without any substance. The season is still up for grabs, but we all know that the title game will most likely have at least one participant who doesn’t deserve to be there.

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