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December 7 - A BCS Alternative

Well it took years of debate, but finally “Dirty December” has come to fruition.  Perhaps it was the
realization that massive amounts of money were being left on the table (i.e. $300 million dollar BCS
contract with Fox versus $6 billion dollar NCAA Tournament package).  However, the reasons don’t
matter.  To the rejoice of college football fans and the gambling public, let’s breakdown our first 16-
team national title tournament.  

While the system still has to be tweaked, let’s make sure everybody knows the ground rules.  Since a
32-team tournament was considered too much and the major conferences wanted to maintain a grip
over the tournament system we had two play-in games.  In the Southeast region, it was Conference
USA winner Tulsa nipping Mid-American champ Northern Illinois 27-24.  In the West bracket,
Mountain West champion TCU knocked out WAC champion Boise State 31-14.

Since the sun rises in the East and sets in the West, we will begin our breakdown of “Dirty
December” by previewing the East regional, which is being held at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse.  
The pairings are as follows:

1  Penn State
4  Florida State

2  Oregon
3  Auburn

There are a lot of people circling Penn State as the team that gets to the NCAA Championship game.  
And boy would Fox like nothing better than to have the first championship contest involve Joe
Paterno.  The Nittany Lions should take Bobby Bowden’s crew behind the woodshed in the first
round.  The other half of the bracket is probably the best matchup of the opening stanza.  While Mike
Bellotti was happy that his Oregon Ducks were able to get the 2 seed, he did not want to be staring
across at an Auburn team that has been peaking late in the season.  

Prediction:  Most observers feel that the winner of Oregon-Auburn will be too banged up to truly
contest the Nittany Lions.  Plus with the regional being at the Carrier Dome, you can expect a “White
Out” as Penn State fans will be out in force.

The Southeast Regional is being held at the Georgia Dome and Mack Brown was bitterly complaining
that this is giving the SEC Champion Georgia Bulldogs an unfair advantage.  The committee was not
biting and did not want to offend the SEC by shipping their champion out of their home region.  The
pairings in the Southeast are as follows:

1  Texas
4  Tulsa

2  Georgia
3  Virginia Tech

Texas came into the tournament as the second overall seed and should overwhelm Tulsa in the first
round.  Meanwhile, the other half of the bracket boasts a tremendous game.  Virginia Tech has been
in a funk as of late and went from being a team vying for a #1 seed to dipping all the way down to a #3.

Prediction:  Georgia is the sleeper in this bracket and could put the kibosh on the Longhorns’
chances.  Had D.J. Shockley been healthy, Georgia doesn’t lose the “Cocktail Party” to Florida.  Plus
there are a lot of whispers about the strength of the Big 12 versus the SEC.  Most feel had Vince
Young and the gang played in the SEC, they lose at least one game.  That all being said, we’re still
taking the Longhorns to squeak through this bracket.

The Midwest Region is being held at the Hoosier (you’ll never get me to say RCA) Dome in
Indianapolis and the pairings are as follows:

1  The Ohio State University
4  Alabama

2  Notre Dame
3  West Virginia

Most are looking at these first round matchups as just a formality.  The Ohio State University and
Alabama will engage in a monumental defensive struggle, however the Buckeyes should prevail.  On
the other side of the bracket, expect an easy win for Notre Dame and for the critics to howl that West
Virginia should have been in the play-in game instead of TCU.

Prediction:  Charlie Weis and Notre Dame versus Jim Tressel and The Ohio State University will be a
dogfight.  We are predicting a close Notre Dame win and a berth into the Final Four.

This region is the only one being played outdoors due to restraints in regards to the playing surface.  
Not to worry, the committee has commissioned a scientific study and is hoping to discover a way to
regenerate grass in less than 24 hours.  The good people of Stanford University have agreed to
undertake this responsibility at no cost in the hopes of getting some favorable at-large treatment
sometime down the road.  This region is being held at Seahawk Stadium and the pairings are as
follows:

1  USC
4  TCU

2  Miami
3  LSU

USC is the oddsmakers choice to win the first “Dirty December”.  While TCU would have been tough
on a number of teams in this tournament, USC is not one of them.  The Trojans should roll to an easy
victory.  On the other side is an outstanding matchup.  Miami and LSU will be an absolute rumble.  
The winner will provide USC with a compelling matchup as both teams bring outstanding defenses
and team speed to the table.

Prediction:  USC wins this region but gets the fight of their lives from “The U”.  For the first time in 35
games, USC will run into a defense that can punch them in the mouth.  However, USC scores just
enough points to scrape by Miami and reach the Final Four.

It should be an outstanding tournament once again and the bars across America will be packed with
people holding a bracket in one hand and a beer in another.  Many chickens will cry out in angst, as
December should contest March for “number of wings devoured”.  Thankfully, the men who run
college football finally agreed on having a tournament to decide a champion.

Check out these other football playoff ideas from The Writers:
Brian Carriveau | Eric Mirlis