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THE BCS's RIDICULOUSNESS
On December 3rd 2011, the precise second Alabama were announced as the undefeated LSU Tigers' opponent, our then-greatest team had already lost.
Yes...as much as the worst defeat in LSU's history was a gradual physical annihilation on the field, the game was won psychologically prior to kickoff, thanks to the outrageous BCS decision nobody (especially not even the Tigers) saw coming:
Not only did these Tigers beat Saban's red uglies earlier in the year (knocking them out of the SEC title game, which is 9/10 times a National Championship playoff), LSU had looked far more impressive in every facet during the 9-6 OT win.
On this author's birthday, our Tigers heroically vanquished Alabama, extinguishing their hopes for a title using Jordan Jefferson's smooth agility to keep Bama's scary good defense on their heels; Eric Reid took their chance at a title away with both hands...in mid-air...and we still had to deal with these juggalos.
Truly, when LSU beat Alabama in what was staged as "The Game of the Century", they conquered an immovable object in their path and emasculated Bama before the world...and we all thought the Wicked Witch of the SEC West had melted...
Bama were done....surely besting Saban within the confines of his own stadium and knocking our eternal rivals out of SEC Championship Game contention would hammer in the final nail, right???
No...and this shocking decade-plus reversal of BCS excuses and apologist rhetoric (in defense of only choosing undefeated conference champions as title game participants), all Tigers fans and players believed there was no way in hell a rematch was inevitable.
But in the back of my mind, I knew the lurid prospects of a rematch loomed....as if Hannibal Lecter lurked somewhere in the shadows of Saban's blood pact with Tuscaloosa, somehow a rematch seemed destined...
Like The Terminator before him, Alabama were the thing which could not be killed.... Saban twice lost the SEC title and still ended up a national champion....however, pulling off this feat in the BCS era will forever be remembered more for its controversy than Saban's defensive coaching, his players' stunning performance or for becoming Les Miles' Waterloo.
The word "rematch" kept being bandied about, the phrase "LSU and Alabama are the two best teams in the country" was thrown around repeatedly and rightfully so....but remember when the BCS said "the schedule is a playoff, too"??
Remember when the BCS selection committee said "the schedule has to matter"???
Well in 2011, the SEC West schedule didn't matter...in fact, I wonder what would've happened had LSU lost 9-6 on November 5th and Bama had been #1 and undefeated, LSU stuck on the outside looking in at the #3 spot:
Would LSU have been selected for the title game rematch???
We doubt it.
Somehow, some way (mostly the BCS's sexual obsessions with Nick Saban), Alabama stayed in the discussion after easy wins vs #14 Arkansas, #12 Florida and #24 Auburn, killing those teams by 21+ points in each game.....but why were they given the spot over Oklahoma State?
Oklahoma State ranked higher in the computer rankings, yet still remained 3rd overall by 0.009, the thinnest margin ever....how did this disastrous math unfold and what disgraceful variables were taken into the equation?
Apparently the best offense in college football (Oklahoma State) wouldn't be allowed to face off against the best defensive unit of all time...
Sure, you can argue the two best teams played in the 2012 BCS title game, however the LSU v Oklahoma State matchup still stands as one of the most compelling unknowns in recent college football history...we feel LSU would've prevailed in what would've been a knockdown, drag out classic....or perhaps an even more rampant throttling of Mike Gundy than the visceral, swift ass-tunneling he's currently experiencing....either way, LSU v OKState would've been a better game, would've meant more to college football fans, and would've probably kept a playoff at bay for another few years.
Why didn't we see that match-up?
Previously, we heard the BCS committee go stark raving mad over any team thinking they could be in the big dance without winning their conference....we heard this corporate mantra repeated constantly, the BCS even using the conference with the more prestigious title game as a way of deciding between undefeated squads.
As much as I hate to question the mentality of those warriors on the 2011 team, I believe the feeling of climbing the Alabama mountain, beating them in their own house, winning the SEC, feeling one hand grip the title, but still being required to face them one more time became a daunting task and Les Miles' coaching staff weren't equipped to rid their players of that mindset.
When a 2011 Tiger declares they "weren't afraid to play Bama again", I agree...there was no fear, but I don't think you guys were ready to play them again, mentally or physically.
Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon's historic offense lit up the Big 12 throughout 2011 in rampaging style, supplying enough pedal to the metal histrionics to cause post-mortem arousal, destroying #10 Oklahoma by 34 points at one juncture and dropping 41 on Stanford's Top 5 defense in their first BCS bowl.
This offense dropped 40+ on 9 occasions, 50+ vs 6 opponents and scored a season-low 31 when they choked vs Iowa State...they set the updated Big 12 model of air-raid attack offense which spread its wings into today's RPO or NFL Spread proclivities:
As far as competing for their first National Championship, OKState took a malicious dump all over their case by losing 37-31 in double overtime at Iowa State, surviving #8 Texas A&M by a single point and outlasting #17 Kansas State by 7...but even the evisceration of #10 Oklahoma couldn't save them.
In comparison, Alabama most likely secured their title game spot because LSU was the only team they'd lost to, along with dominant wins vs ranked SEC teams.
Meanwhile, OKState lost to unranked Iowa State... and despite the wild anarchy of playing at Jack Trice Stadium, Mike Gundy's men had no excuses...even if he is a racially confused man who's 40....
Let's be blunt:
In a bizarre way, Oklahoma State cost LSU a championship by losing to Iowa State:
Had the Cowboys stayed undefeated after throttling Oklahoma heading into the BCS Selection Show, the Bowl Championship Series Committee would've had no choice but to hand OKState the bid vs LSU and a shot at their first title.
Back in the BCS era, if you failed to finish the regular season undefeated and win your conference title in style, you missed the big dance....except if you were Alabama...
2011 Oklahoma State is far from the most egregious BCS snub of the era: 2004 USC, 2004 Auburn (or you may make a case for 2006 Boise State being more capable of beating 2006 Florida than Ohio State), all finishing undefeated and leveling top competition in a BCS bowl clearly take that crown.
Still, by the BCS's own rules and regulations, Oklahoma State should've been selected over Alabama due to the conference championship victory, which was supposed to mean more than strength of schedule (used as a convenient excuse by the BCS when Auburn was ousted in 2004)...so why didn't the presence of OKState's conference title matter in 2011?
Because the BCS wanted LSU v Alabama again at all costs...we'll get into that below.
Still...OKState fans may never get another shot at a title as they did in 2011...especially now in light of Coach Gundy's current Dabo-esque derangement pissing down his recruiting well.
Mike Gundy's radical spread passing attack forecasted the future of college football offenses, while LSU's Broyles-winning Defensive Coordinator John Chavis built a defensive roster so formidable even Vlad the Impaler had to change his pants after watching....and yet the match-up we'd all expected (and clamored for most) was not to be...but OKState only have themselves to blame...just like LSU....
LIMP OFFENSIVE BIZKIT
Quite obviously and understandably, the 2011 Tigers had every right to feel extreme confidence heading into the final game of the season, even if it was against #2 Alabama.
Hell, they'd already beaten 'em before, how could these Tigers fail to deliver a formidable sequel?
The problem was this abundance of confidence only extended to the defensive side of the ball, while the offense lingered in disarray.
Even when dropping 40+ points, which this Greg Studrawa-coached offense pulled off on a surprising 9 occasions, they still seemed toothless, clueless and completely dependent on special teams or defensive-assisted field position.
It was against Alabama, or even during the first quarter and a half of the SEC Championship Game, where LSU found out just how bad their offense really was.
Without field goals, there were no points...without the stable of NFL-ready running backs, there would be no 1st downs or sustained drives...For all of Jordan Jefferson's blistering athleticism, he wasn't a quarterback capable of liberating the bevy of weapons surrounding him.
However, on the bench Les Miles had Zach Mettenberger, who'd shock the world in 2012 as he lit up the SEC West as the most talented quarterback of the Miles era, a player who's gone on record saying he was "dying to play in that title game"...
There was Jarrett Lee, although to be honest, Lee struggled historically vs Alabama....and still, Jarrett may have been our best chance (considering Miles was never playing Mettenberger).
With a QBR of 152, throwing 14 TDs compared to Jordan's 6, Lee started and shined in victories over #2 Oregon and #17 West Virginia, throwing for a combined 278 yards, 4 TDs and 0 INTs as he led LSU to a 4-0 start to the 2011 campaign, all as Jefferson served his 4 game suspension for a bar brawl that summer.
But against Alabama on November 5th, Lee went 3 for 7 for 24 yards, threw 2 interceptions and posted a 14.5 QBR, playing musical chairs with Jordan Jefferson, Les Miles unable to decide who should play quarterback until Jefferson's ability to extend the play handed him the job before halftime.
Miles' obvious lack of confidence in Lee (and our staff's continuous hampering of the quarterback's development) killed Jarrett's appearance in the Game of The Century, and tarnished any chances for a revival in the title game...
Lee didn't possess an adequate arm...but did he hold the leadership and poise to get us into the red zone? Crossing the halfway mark more than once in a game? Grabbing more than 5 first downs??
Yes, he could've been more successful than Jefferson in the passing game, maybe only marginally...but Les had to try anything and everything.
Lee showed a far more advanced relationship with the wideouts than Jefferson, connecting with Russell Sheppard and Rueben Randle for multiple TDs.
Unlike Jefferson, Lee would at least take a chance on a pass, consistently throwing the ball to young WRs Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr (both wideouts playing as well as they could during the title game itself).
Regardless of who played quarterback, our offensive scheme was a joke: EVERY pass was a 3 yard bubble providing our guys on the outside zero space or time to make plays or generate any burst.
LSU averaged an embarrassing 3.1 yards per catch from only 11 completed passes, and while Jefferson improved as the game wore on, his interception to C.J Moseley effectively ended the game in the 3rd quarter...such was LSU's offensive nadir.
Yet I don't blame the title game loss on Jordan Jefferson whatsoever...I blame the defeat on Greg Studrawa's lack of imagination in opening up spaces for our skill players to catch and make plays in space, the route selection was heinous out there, little hitches to nowhere, totally opening our WRs up for vicious, skeletal hits from Alabama corners.
Jefferson couldn't make those throws quickly in stride (as seen by OBJ's crazy rooftop reach early in the game)...so why not try something he's good at? Bootleg passing? Or dropping Jordan in the shotgun in order to give him extra time???
Why wasn't there anything innovative from our running game?
Why didn't Jarrett Lee make an appearance, even to get the defense thinking?
Why didn't we attempt a single pass or route combination over the middle of the Alabama defense?
Jordan Jefferson didn't lose the 2012 BCS National Championship...the coaching staff who failed him and hung him out to dry did.
2011 was a rare year where wire to wire only two teams truly dominated the national spotlight, LSU and Alabama.
Usually in these circumstances, i.e Texas and USC circa 2005/06, we lick our chops waiting for their showdown in the title game, if they can survive the season...but in the SEC West, LSU and Alabama had to get through one another in order to contest a title every year, which usually would knock the loser out of title contention.
So why was 2011 different?
How did a flawed Bama team, blemished by the #1 Tigers, still get another opportunity, let alone a one-game / winner-take-all chance at a title against the team who'd already beaten them?
How come the November 5th battle didn't have the same magnitude or gravity to its result, given LSU's victory on the road, in hostile territory against their eternal rivals?
The BCS were held hostage by the legitimate greatness of the two squads...they weren't going to provide a BCS Anti-Climax after the tantalizingly rare potential of a rematch was considered and hyped by the SEC-favoring Bowl Championship Series Committee.
Out of pure lust for ratings (a strategy which turned on the BCS dramatically) they needed a rematch...what other alternatives were available???
LSU trouncing Oklahoma State?
The BCS knew they were in a no-win situation, so they made sure the upcoming contest would at least provide intrigue and debate in the lead-up....
They chose the match-up they wanted to see...and as much as I want to argue, LSU and Alabama were the two best teams in the country.
The amount of talent he squandered was legendary...Russell Sheppard should've been a great LSU quarterback, Jefferson would've been an immense talent at WR or RB...I mean hell, in 2016 the guy recruited Ja'Marr Chase as a cornerback and stationed Steve Ensminger as a Tight Ends Coach....
This LSU squad was far from just a defensive juggernaut, the talent on offense was vast...sadly, we were only treated to peeks of their boundless ceiling.
The historic 2011 Tigers defeated five teams with at least 10 wins, beat three teams that went on to win BCS bowl games and they became the first (and only) team to score a perfect 1.000 in the final BCS standings since the format was adopted in 2004.
We had an unbelievable defense, equal to a collegiate 1985 Chicago Bears, cats who've played in or won Super Bowls all over the roster, true Tigers who've lasted until the present day in the NFL...those guys on the 2011 defense were a complete Doomsday Payday...a Purple and Gold Storm of Saban Scorn...and they deserved so much better...
As Les sat there and watched the defense play the game for our entire team, those legends forced to stay out there for a savage, exhausting amount of time, constantly battling, fighting for a title on their own, our staff should've devised a plan to help them...Miles should've been getting the offense fired up and ready to geaux, Les should've been ousting the unspoken division which was infecting the team's offense.
...Instead, the Mad Hatter grew quiet, scared even...and just let it all slide down the cliff, giving the boulder a good push to help it on its way.
His worst decision?
Remaining indecisive about LSU's quarterback and thinking the position didn't matter....he simply treated the quarterback as a running back conduit.
Instead of making a decision and changing the putrid direction Jefferson's paltry 53 yards passing, 1 INT and 1 fumble were taking us, Les did nothing.
"We did consider Jarrett Lee. But we felt like with the pass rush that we were getting we felt we needed a guy that could move his feet and not sustain that pass rush," Miles later explained.
1st: Who's we?
Take ownership, Les.
2nd: Ahhh cause Jefferson's non-existent evasion of the pass rush was really helping matters? Jefferson led the offense to only a pair of first downs at 12:30 left in the 3rd quarter, only grabbing his second when Odell Beckham Jr rattled off a 19 yard catch....and a disastrous 23.7 QBR.
Most of Jefferson's yards came from Odell Beckham Jr, although the litany of weapons at LSU's disposal were outrageous...how Offensive Coordinator Greg Studrawa couldn't figure out a way to get them the ball is insane...
Les Miles was too cowardly to rip up the offensive game plan and inject life into the team by changing quarterbacks...and it cost us a National Championship with our name half-way carved on the front.
We'll leave you with the most maddening quote of all:
"I think the coach could've done more...certainly I would've loved to have changed the game-plan..."
- Les Miles 2020
(talking to WAFB's Jacques Doucet)
By LONN JACKSON PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
COPYRIGHT 2020 UNINTERRUPTED WRITINGS INC LLC