Champion Crowned, But Questions Linger

By Eric Prisbell
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 10, 2007

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz., Jan. 9 -- Florida Coach Urban Meyer was awarded national championship trophies Tuesday, while the nation's only undefeated team, Boise State, was forced to settle for a fifth-place final ranking in the Associated Press poll.

It was the type of postseason outcome college football fans can get used to seeing because the Bowl Championship Series format is not expected to change until at least 2010, when Fox's four-year, $320 million television deal with the bowls ends.

BCS coordinator Mike Slive said this week he was "very, very open-minded about a plus-one" model that could match the nation's top two teams after the BCS games are played. This was the first year of the five-game BCS format that had one site -- this year Glendale, Ariz. -- hosting two games in eight days and included 10 teams playing in BCS games.

"I do believe future discussions about fixing an imperfect system will continue to grow," Meyer said Tuesday. "The separation of the [national championship] bowl game from other bowls is good for college football."

The postseason's most thrilling game occurred in the same stadium as the national title game, University of Phoenix Stadium, but a week earlier. Boise State's zany 43-42 overtime victory over Oklahoma will be cited as a prime reason why some type of playoff structure is needed in the future.

The Broncos (13-0) were denied a chance to play for the national title and received only one first-place vote in the AP poll. The lone voter who did not vote Florida at No. 1 was Greg Archuleta of the Albuquerque Journal. It's worth noting that, even under a plus-one model, Boise State would not get a chance to play for a title.

"Let's go play 'em next week," Meyer said in jest after the Gators (13-1) won their first national championship since 1996. "I love Boise State, but I wouldn't want to do that. We're done."

The postseason format also produced a shocking result in Monday's national championship game. Ohio State, dominant most of the season on both sides of the ball, looked inept offensively and a step slow defensively in a 41-14 loss to Florida that followed a 51-day layoff for the Buckeyes. On Tuesday, Meyer attributed at least some of Ohio State's mistakes to the layoff.

"We got to play two more games past their games," said Meyer, whose team beat Florida State and then Arkansas in the Southeastern Conference title game after Ohio State concluded its season Nov. 18. He added that the complimentary attention Ohio State received over the past month benefited his team, saying, "The 30 days of the media blitz was advantageous for the Gators."

Over the past month, there had been much debate over whether the Gators deserved to play for the national title. In the final BCS standings on Dec. 3, Florida leapfrogged a Michigan team that had not played since a three-point loss at Ohio State on Nov. 18. Some analysts clamored for a Michigan-Ohio State rematch in the national championship game. As it turned out, both members of the Big Ten were soundly beaten in bowl games that came after long layoffs. The Wolverines lost to Southern California, 32-18, in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1.

Florida will be hard-pressed to repeat largely because of the possible loss of most of its defense, including a handful of players who may decide to leave early for the NFL draft. There also will be a change at quarterback.

Tim Tebow, the popular freshman who ran for one touchdown and threw for another Monday, will replace the departing Chris Leak. Meyer said Tebow will run the spread-option offense with more of an emphasis on the option facet.

"It's Tim Tebow's team as of right now," Meyer said.

Next year's national championship game will be played in New Orleans.

This year marked the first year of a four-year deal Fox has to broadcast the Fiesta, Orange and Sugar bowls until 2010. The network also has the rights to the national title game until 2009. The Rose Bowl has a contract with ABC that runs through 2014.

Slive, who also is the commissioner of the Southeastern Conference, said he told university presidents that they need to think about the postseason format and "make some decisions about whether or not the BCS format should be the way it is today or whether they want to talk about some other format."

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