By Lee Stubblefield
The Utah Utes deserve to be the NCAA National Champions.
The precedent was set in 1984 when lightly-regarded Brigham Young University capped an undefeated (12-0) season by beating Michigan in the Holiday Bowl, and the Cougars were voted #1 by both the coaches and the media in their respective polls.
The coaches and the writers, demonstrating remarkable simplicity and wisdom, deemed that when no team is dominant, the championship should go to the "best" team no matter the perceived stature of the bowl they played or the conference they represent. Wouldn't it be nice if the BCS system included such qualities?
Fact: no matter what happens between Oklahoma and Florida, Utah will be the only undefeated (13-0) major college football program this season. Oklahoma lost to Texas in their annual shootout on a neutral field, and Florida was upended at home by Ole Miss. Oh yeah, the same Ole Miss that beat Texas Tech in the Cotton Bowl, the same Texas Tech team that beat Texas . . . you get the idea.
Yes, Florida beat Alabama in the SEC championship game. Utah beat them also, and except for the gift fumble at the start of the second half that allowed 'Bama to pull within 21-17, it wouldn't have been close.
Southern Cal thumped Penn State in the Rose Bowl and immediately started brandishing their Trojan war gear and laying claim to #1 with their 12-1 record. That one loss was to Oregon State . . . the same Oregon State team that lost to Utah on Oct. 2, 2008, . . . you get the idea.
There are 13 reasons Utah should be the champions of the 2008 college football season. Unfortunately, none of those 13 wins get much recognition by the BCS formula, a formula hated and degraded by many of the top NCAA institutions. But the fact that many teams have one-loss records suggests that this was indeed a year of parity in college football. Utah was the only team that ran the gauntlet undefeated.
So bang those drums, Utes fans, and enjoy the moment, because on Jan. 8, the BCS will steal your thunder. That's something no football team has been able to do this entire season.