Published Wednesday, January 8, 2014 AT 1:18 PM / Updated at 3:57 PM
Mad Chatter: The BCS champions playoff, Petrino to Louisville, what to take from Michigan State’s run
Dirk Chatelain Omaha World-Herald

You are looking live at the first (and last) BCS championship playoff selection show. BCS? Playoff? Isn’t that an oxymoron?

Perhaps. But before we move on to a new, glorious era of college football, let’s merge past and future. Today we present the BCS champions bracket, complete with all 16 national champs since the BCS inception in 1998.

You the fans are invited to email me your full-bracket picks (dirk.chatelain@owh.com). I’ll post the results in Friday’s Mad Chatter.

CORSO REGION

No. 1. Miami 2001 vs. No. 4 LSU 2007: Widely considered the most talented team in BCS history, Miami draws the only two-loss champion. Can Bo Pelini’s Tigers fare better against the ‘Canes than Craig Bohl’s Blackshirts?

No. 2 Alabama 2012 vs. No. 3 Florida 2006: A showdown between the bookends of the SEC’s seven-year title streak. The Gators shocked the country drubbing Ohio State. When ‘Bama blasted Notre Dame, it was old hat.

MAY REGION

No. 1 Alabama 2009 vs. No. 4 LSU 2003: Nick Saban’s only undefeated national championship team versus Nick Saban’s first title team. Win or lose, neither of these coaches will be smiling afterward.

No. 2 Florida State 2013 vs. No. 3 Oklahoma 2000: The Cinderella Sooners held Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke without an offensive score. Can Bob Stoops’ defense shut down Famous Jameis, too?

MILLEN REGION

No. 1 Texas 2005 vs. No. 4 Tennessee 1998: The greatest quarterback of the BCS era, Vince Young, versus the first BCS champions. Nobody thought the Vols, led by Tee Martin and Al Wilson, could beat Florida State. They’ll need another upset.

No. 2 Florida 2008 vs. No. 3 Auburn 2010: For the Tigers, Cam Newton was a Heisman Trophy winner. For the Gators in ’08, he was Tim Tebow’s backup before stealing a laptop and transferring. Had he stayed, Urban Meyer might still be in Gainesville.

HOLTZ REGION

No. 1 USC 2004 vs. No. 4 Ohio State 2002: The Trojans won a national title by the largest margin in BCS history, 36 points over Oklahoma. The Buckeyes won their championship by the slimmest margin, in double overtime. The Big Ten’s finest BCS hour!

No. 2 Florida State 1999 vs. No. 3 Alabama 2011: This edition of the Crimson Tide is the only team to win a national title without winning its division. But ask Les Miles how good they were. Bobby Bowden’s last championship squad had the distinction of being No. 1 wire-to-wire.

* * *

>> Louisville last year completed one of the greatest six-month athletic runs in recent NCAA memory. A national championship in basketball. A women’s basketball Final Four. A BCS bowl win. A College World Series.

The Cards are off to a rockier start in 2014. Charlie Strong leaves for Texas and he’s reportedly being replaced by … Bobby Petrino? There are a lot of shady football coaches. But when someone is as universally loathed as Petrino is, that tells you something about his character. He better win big or it’s not worth it.

>> George Schroeder went behind-the-scenes with Gus Malzahn and Auburn the day of the national championship game. Awesome look at the locker room before and after a gutting defeat.

>> The incomparable Spencer Hall’s take from Florida State-Auburn.

>> Jimbo Fisher was quoted Tuesday saying this: “And how many times was the BCS ever wrong? How many times did they ever get it wrong at the end? We’ve still got the same problem. You’re going to argue over who’s four and five or who’s two and three. What’s the difference?”

The difference is two teams. The difference is a greater margin of error. In a sport where there’s a pathetic amount of inter-conference competition, choosing the two best teams in the country is often nothing more than a guess. Are you really sure, Jimbo, that Florida State belonged in the title game over Miami in 2000 (even though the Hurricanes beat FSU in the regular season)?

Just because the uproar doesn’t meet your standard doesn’t mean the BCS got it right. What makes you so sure that Utah — the only undefeated team in 2008 — wasn’t the best in the country? Same for Boise in ’09 and  TCU in ‘10?

The playoff will have its share of controversy, yes. But look at it as if you’re The Bachelor, Jimbo. In selecting your soulmate, wouldn’t you rather see four girls walk out of the limousine than two?

>> According to Forbes, Iowa football is worth more than Nebraska football. Really? I don’t buy that (actually, I can’t afford to buy either one).

>> Al Golden or Mike Munchak is a better fit for Penn State than James Franklin, columnist David Jones writes. Why? Stability.

>> As a Greg Maddux fan, I can’t recommend this column enough. Love it.

>> Every year, I fail to understand. Why is the Baseball Hall of Fame so prominent in sporting conversations? Who, other than their families, cares if Jack Morris or Tim Raines caps his career in Cooperstown? Who cares if Greg Maddux is unanimous?

If the media themselves weren’t voting for Hall of Famers, would they spend so much time writing about it?

>> When The World-Herald previewed the college hoops season back in November, I wrote a piece about a big year for local and regional teams. Creighton and Iowa were surging. Nebraska had a new arena. Kansas had Andrew Wiggins. I didn’t bother with Iowa State, assuming the ‘Clones would be about like last year.

Instead, they’re undefeated and ranked seventh in the country. After ISU blew out Baylor last night, Bears coach Scott Drew said the Cyclones could win a national championship. I’m not sure about that. But Fred Hoiberg is establishing himself as one of the best coaches in the country.

>> Finally, Michigan State’s rags-to-riches story in 2013 should give Husker fans a source of hope entering the offseason. The Spartans went from 7-6 to Rose Bowl champs.

However, don’t forget this about Michigan State. In 2012, its Big Ten losses were by one point, three (in OT), two, four and three. The Huskers won all its close games in ’12 and ’13. Even at 9-4, NU may be farther away than the Spartans were.

The difference for Michigan State was Connor Cook’s emergence as a bona fide quarterback. He was the missing piece. Nebraska can try to copy Michigan State’s defense-first blueprint in 2014. But to make a conference title run, the Huskers also need Tommy Armstrong or Johnny Stanton to develop into one of the Big Ten’s best QBs.

About Dirk Chatelain

Dirk Chatelain is a staff writer for The Omaha World-Herald and covers Nebraska football and general assignments. You can follow Dirk on Twitter (@dirkchatelain) or email him at dchatelain@owh.com