Well, this was the long way around the barn.
All this politicking, all this hue and cry and beating the college football pashas briskly about the head and neck until they finally came to their senses ... and what does the playoff system the pashas grudgingly agreed to give us?
A throwback Rose Bowl.
That's what we've got now that Oregon made an oil slick out of Florida State in Rose Bowl I, and Ohio State put an SEC-style beating on Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. Now it's the Ducks vs. the Buckeyes in the national championship game -- Big Ten vs. Pac 12, just like the old days -- and all that will be missing will be the Governor's Trophy float and the San Gabriel Mountains shinin' in the late-afternoon sun.
Oregon smoking the Seminoles like a Christmas ham was an easy call, given that the Seminoles were the most counterfeit unbeaten team since Notre Dame two years ago. But Ohio State forcing Nick Saban's legions to play the Buckeyes' game? Who saw that coming?
(OK, so, everybody in Ohio. And Jim Delany, commissioner of the Big Ten. And Urban Meyer, who snickered afterward that maybe the Big Ten wasn't so bad after all, that maybe it was actually pretty good).
Hard to argue that one after the last few days, when not only did the Buckeyes ball-peen the darlings of the SEC, but Wisconsin took down Auburn, another allegedly superior SEC school, and Michigan State came from behind to knock out Baylor. Made a lot of people who were calling the Big Ten a wanna-be Big Five conference look plain silly.
(OK. So it made me look silly).
The bare-wood truth of it is, the SEC is not the pre-eminent power its de facto publicists make it out to be, and the Big Ten clearly isn't just a place where it's cold and no real athletes would dare show their faces. That was starkly evident last night, because there was no discernible difference between Alabama's athletes and Ohio State's. If anything, Ohio State had more. They were clearly the better team from the opening whistle, even while falling down 21-6 early -- and their third-string quarterback (Cardale Jones) was better on the big stage than Alabama's first-teamer (Blake Sims).
The SEC still doesn't have anyone as wretched as Indiana or Purdue on the premises. But its top-tier teams don't have any better athletes than anyone else. Just ask Ohio State about that -- or perhaps TCU, which beat 'Bama-conqueror Ole Miss in the Peach Bowl like it was the junior varsity.
And the national championship game?
Impulse says Oregon. Experience, however, says you snub the Big Ten school at your own risk.