How to Pick a Champion

UPDATE: With about 4 minutes left in the third quarter of the Rose Bowl, Oregon leads FSU 39-20. I wrote this post before game time. They still have the ugliest uniforms in all of college football, but it looks like they also have a spot in the national championship game.

Here we are approaching the climactic point in the annual chase for the college football national championship. Somebody, somewhere decided that there are four teams in the land worthy of playing for the honor. Fans all over the country are divided as to the validity of the selections: my team would’ve been in, should’ve been in, could’ve been in, etc.

As a fan of college football, I’ve decided I need to figure out which team I’ll root for in the four-team tournament. I thought I’d give you a little insight into how I chose my team.

In case you’ve missed it, the four teams are Oregon, Alabama, Ohio State, and Florida State. Let’s break it down, the Just Charlie way, shall we?

First, I didn’t graduate from either of the four schools. I have no alumnus loyalty per se. I’m reminded of my father-in-law’s old joke: “I wear a Georgia Tech shirt because I went to Georgia Tech. You wear a Georgia shirt because you went to Walmart.” So let’s get that out of the way at the outset.

Here’s my somewhat convoluted reasoning.

Oregon has the ugliest uniforms in all of college football. Period. They can’t even make up their minds what combination of colors is really the Oregon uniform. At any rate, all the combinations are U-G-L-Y, as in “butt-ugly.” They’re even worse than all the Orange Rule schools (see my posts elsewhere for explanation of The Orange Rule of College Football). The Ducks have a Heisman Trophy winner playing quarterback and they score a lot of points, but neither factor trumps the ugly uniforms. Strike Oregon.

Then there’s Alabama. The mighty Crimson Tide from the mighty SEC West division. (How’s the bowl season working out so far?) They win. A lot. They are one of college football’s traditional powerhouse programs. Bear Bryant used to coach at Alabama. But so did Mike Shula, and for a few days, some guy named Mike Price (who?) did, too. Nick Saban is the current head coach at Alabama. Lane Kiffin is his offensive coordinator, with the key word being “offensive.” That, paired with the fact that they’ve won enough in the last few years, is enough to keep AlaDamnBama from getting my nod. (What, exactly, do elephants and yellow hammers have to do with Crimson anyway?)

Consider Ohio State. They play in the Big Ten Conference. I mean the Big 11. Wait…make that the Big 10 + 2, since there was already a Big 12, which incidentally, has only ten teams. Wait. Now make that the Big 10 + 2 + 2 More, which in reality, makes it the Big 14. But that doesn’t sound nearly compact enough for a major athletic conference, so there you go. Throw into the mix that Ohio State’s mascot is a nut. No, I’m not casting aspersions on the mental stability of their mascot. They’re the Buckeyes, for crying out loud. Oh, also, factor in their most famous coach slugged an opposing player on the sidelines as the Buckeyes were losing a bowl game. And that their current coach, while a Worthy Brother in my own fraternity, used to be the coach at the University of Florida. All that makes it easy not to pull for the Nuts.

That leaves Florida State, the reigning national champs. What can we say about the Seminoles? They may be the most hated good team in America right now. They have a punk quarterback (who won the Heisman last year) with lots of character and conduct issues. Their coach, in sweeping his star’s issues under the rug, comes off as a punk who never grew up. They’re undefeated, but they’ve managed squeak by in a lot of those wins. They barely survived in their conference championship game. But still, the Seminoles have managed to win every one of their games, and stand at season’s end as the only major undefeated team in the nation.

And that’s where it gets hard for me. See, while I didn’t graduate from Florida State, I did matriculate there at the beginning of my long and checkered academic career. I learned to love college football in Doak Campbell Stadium. I thought Coach Bowden was – and is a great man and coach. I know Coach Bowden turned his head and ignored a lot of junk that went on during his tenure (Free Shoes U, Criminoles, etc.), but I have to believe he wouldn’t put up with some of the nonsense going on in Tallahassee now. I may be wrong.

So I’m holding my nose and pulling for Florida State to win it all again. The old garnet and gold is still a little bit in my blood from 35 years ago. Go Noles!