It has been a whirlwind of a college season and I must first say how lucky I am to sit in the chair I do every Saturday, with the chance to watch the best games and teams from around the country.
I love my job, but I'm a little depressed about the way things worked out in the BCS. Pete Carroll and his USC Trojans have had an incredible year and now sit at No. 1 in both human polls, yet are left out of the BCS championship game. That is an injustice.
I try on the air, in chats and in my columns to admit when I'm wrong, and it's now time for someone from the BCS to stand up and say "Hey, we missed the boat and this system does not work." Trust me, it is a cleansing experience to admit a mistake.
While the value of controversy and water cooler talk is understood, this scenario also has created a credibility issue for the BCS and a disconnect with fans who see how flawed the system is.
College football is now the laughingstock of major sports. My ESPN counterparts on the NFL side walk by and laugh, and frankly I'm embarrassed the powers-that-be are dragging their feet and allowing this kind of trouble to arise every year. It's time someone in that group -- whoever they are -- to step up and say the nonsense has to end.
There is too much at stake for it to be any other way. Coaches are getting fired for going 9-3 and too many people have too much to lose for things to be decided by a New York Times computer that ranks Oklahoma behind a Texas team it beat 65-13.
The BCS has taken a step back because of all the reasons above, and in my opinion it is now irrelevant.
After this fiasco I am confident the BCS will be blown up sooner rather than later. It has to be. The scenario that was unimaginable has happened and it's unfair to all the players who have given so much that there is no contingency plan.
And because of that lack of an option, some of the coaches who bought into the system that obligates them to vote the winner of the BCS title game as the national championship are now telling me they might not do so. If USC smokes Michigan in the Rose Bowl -- which to me is now the national championship game -- there may be coaches who put USC at No. 1 on their ballots and further erode the credibility of the system. Perhaps more chaos is the only way to affect change.
At the end of the day, common sense has to rule. We have to stop worrying about money and fighting over who gets what share of the payouts and do something for the betterment of a game that is supposed to be about amateur student-athletes. It is unthinkable to me that dollars are getting in the way of some kind of a playoff.
So to everyone at the NCAA and all the conference presidents who came up with this system: get off your high horse, get over the money issue and do the right thing for the kids. I'm tired of feeling embarrassed about being a passionate college football fan.
What about the other bowls?
A trip to a bowl game is a just reward for a great season, but it is frustrating that 6-6 teams can get into postseason play while schools like Northern Illinois are sitting at home after beating three teams from BCS conferences.
That said, I can speak from experience when saying the bowl experience is tremendous for the players. The best part is playing an opponent you have only seen on the highlights or read about in the newspaper, seeing how you measure up.
Here's how some of the best games and biggest issues of this bowl season measure up:
Coming up roses
The USC-Michigan matchup in the Rose Bowl is intriguing not only because it pits two great teams against one another, but because of the other problems it could cause for the BCS. Say, for instance, the Wolverines crush the Trojans USC while LSU and Oklahoma play a sloppy, low-scoring game after a long layoff. If that happens, there is a real chance the Wolverines could jump to No. 1 in the AP poll and heap on more controversy. In the absence of the BCS, that would be just the kind of scenario that is good for college football -- generating interest in more than one big game and giving plenty of fans a real debate about what happens on the field.
Compare and contrast
The Navy-Texas Tech game in the EV1.net Houston Bowl pits two of the most dissimilar teams in the nation. Paul Johnson's Midshipmen will bring in the triple option, led by quarterback Craig Candeto, and will look to establish fullback Kyle Eckel against a defense that has not stopped anyone this season. The Navy defense, meanwhile, has given up just nine touchdown passes and just under 154 passing yards per game but will have to find an answer for Texas Tech quarterback B.J. Symons and the Red Raiders' wide-open passing system. If that is not the definition of an intriguing game between two teams that would never play in the regular season, I don't know what is.
Old man Rivers vs. the Jayhawks
N.C. State quarterback Philip Rivers has had an outstanding career and may very well go off for a big game against Kansas in the Mazda Tangerine Bowl. The real story, though is what KU coach Mark Mangino will do with the extra practices and increased exposure the Jayhawks get out of a bowl bid. This is exactly the kind of jump start the Kansas program needs to catapult itself to the next level in the Big 12.
What about mind-set?
Another storyline to watch is what happens to teams that enter their bowl feeling slighted. Will Tennessee come to play in the Peach Bowl after being jilted by the Capital One Bowl, which took a Georgia team that has more losses than the Vols? Texas also falls into that group after sliding out of the BCS and into the Holiday Bowl thanks to Oklahoma's loss in the Big 12 championship game. And what about teams that feel fortunate just to be in a bowl? How will they approach the week? It's always interesting to see which coaches treat the week as a fun reward rather than a business trip.
I'm also interested to see how players with NFL futures perform. Will they try to protect themselves and their draft status or will they give all they can in their last collegiate game?
'Canes and 'Noles, Part II
This game in the Orange Bowl does nothing for me. I won't even turn on the television because the outcome is predictable: there will be a fight before the game, Chris Rix and Brock Berlin will be the focus and if it rains, there will be plenty of turnovers. I like both teams and both coaches. I've just seen enough of them this season, especially against each other.
No BCS, so now what?
I'll tune into the PlainsCapital Fort Worth Bowl between TCU and Boise State to see how the Horned Frogs play in the face of all the issues surrounding their program. TCU slipped out of BCS contention after a loss to Southern Miss, and after the Frogs turned down an invitation to the GMAC bowl, some said they were ducking a very good Miami (Ohio) team.
Hold on, boys, because I would argue Boise State may give TCU a tougher game. We all know about BSU quarterback Ryan Dinwiddie and his 4,000-yard, 28 touchdown season, but don't forget about the Broncos' defense. Sure, Miami has a good D as well, but Boise led the WAC in total defense and is very underrated on that side of the ball. And just how will TCU respond in what is essentially an extra home game -- in what is the inaugural Fort Worth Bowl -- when it had BCS aspirations earlier in the year?
Big Ten tops again?
As I said before, it's okay to admit you're wrong, just as I did after predicting the Big Ten would struggle mightily last bowl season. Well, the league went out and won the ESPN Bowl Challenge Cup as the conference with the best bowl winning percentage and gained a measure of pride for all Big Ten teams.
A good measuring stick this season might be the Wisconsin-Auburn matchup in the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl, because it's all about pride after the Badgers and Tigers started the season with BCS hopes but struggled at various times.
Auburn prides itself on being the most physical team in the SEC with its strong running game and athletic defense, but here comes Wisconsin with the same rugged style of play. This is a chance for the SEC to prove it really has the best athletes in college, while the Big Ten can continue to shake the image of plodding, thick-ankled behemoths.
There has to be a way to incorporate the bowls in to the BCS/playoff solution. Let's find a way to get the top eight teams after the bowls into a playoff. That would maintain the importance of the regular season as teams jockey for high rankings heading into bowl season and still allow the bowls to have a say in who wins the national championship.
With 7½ months off after the bowl season, I'll need something to do, so anyone who wants to fix this thing can give me a call and we'll figure it all out.
Trev Alberts is a college football analyst for ESPN and a regular contributor to ESPN.com during the season.