KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Quit your bitching, Texas. You too, Southern California.
|Pete Carroll can't complain about being left out of the BCS title game. (Getty Images)|
Didn't make it into the BCS title game? Boo-fricking-hoo. The system might not have worked in your favor this season, but it will one day. And that's the thing about being Texas or Southern California, and about being Florida or Oklahoma, for that matter: The even larger system -- the college football system -- is designed to funnel you into the BCS title game as smoothly as possible.
So Texas and USC didn't get there this season. So what. You will soon enough, maybe even next season. And if not next season, then the next. That's almost a sure thing. By the year 2011, both Texas and USC will have played again for the national championship -- and if it hasn't happened for either school by then, Mack Brown or Pete Carroll has screwed up.
You're supposed to succeed, Texas. You too, USC. That's why I can't muster up a speck of sympathy for either of you. It's not like Iowa State or Ole Miss has been left out of the BCS equation despite a worthy résumé. That would be a heartbreak, because Iowa State and Ole Miss might never pass this way again.
But Texas and USC? You'll pass this way again, and when you do, you'll be riding first class. Feeling badly that Texas or USC didn't make it into the BCS title game with 11-1 records -- while Florida and Oklahoma did, at 12-1 -- is like feeling badly that Donald Trump didn't get a Christmas bonus. The man has enough advantages already.
And so do you, Texas. And you, Southern Cal.
Some of those advantages, you have earned. I suppose. There's a whole chicken-and-egg thing going on here, because it's hard to say whether Texas and USC, and Florida and Oklahoma, found their incredible traditions -- or whether tradition found them.
Listen closely. There is no mistaking the fact that those four schools have some of the best traditions in college football. Texas, USC and Oklahoma have been dominant forever. Florida arrived late to the party, but since Steve Spurrier awoke that sleeping giant, the Gators have been right there with Texas, USC and Oklahoma. That's a run of almost 20 years. Florida isn't nouveau riche any more. Florida is just loaded.
But to quote Glenn Close in Dangerous Liaisons, "One doesn't applaud the tenor for clearing his throat."
You're Texas. You're Southern Cal. Or you're Oklahoma or Florida. You have every advantage you could want, starting with the most important one -- the best recruiting base in the country. The best states for football talent always have been, and always will be, Texas and California and Florida. The populations are enormous. The weather is terrific. Football matters. Add it up, and you have the three most fertile recruiting grounds for football. Oklahoma isn't exactly in that mix, but Oklahoma has always been North Texas when it comes to recruiting. Oklahoma doesn't have the oil well in its backyard, no, but Oklahoma is close enough to be splashed by the crude.
So that's the talent factor. Texas and USC have access to it, and to their credit, they have turned that talent into All-Americans and Heisman Trophies and national championships. And that's where the tradition comes in. Talent equals winning equals tradition, and Texas and USC have it. Once you have tradition, you have everything else you need. You have alumni willing to give crazy money to keep that tradition going, because wealthy alumni like nothing more than to feel like they're part of something successful. They can't run or catch or tackle, but they can write a check. And so they do.
And so Texas and USC have the best facilities money can buy. And when they need a coach, they can go get the best coach money can buy. Mack Brown had worked miracles at North Carolina, and driven up his price, when Texas needed a head coach. Pete Carroll, I'll be honest, seemed like a reach to coach USC. But in hindsight -- and to the Trojans' credit, they had foresight -- his laid-back demeanor has meshed perfectly with the recruiting, fan and alumni bases of USC. He didn't come cheaply, what with his NFL background, but USC doesn't worry about money. Not when it comes to its football program.
Put it all together. Texas and USC have better access to better talent than anyone. They have better resources to hire better coaches than anyone. They have better facilities to develop that talent.
They have to win, and win big. Every season.
So don't expect sympathy from anyone outside your fan base because you missed out on the BCS title game, Texas. Or you, USC. Not even if you have the same number of losses as Florida and Oklahoma. And not even if, in Texas' case, you have beaten the Sooners already this season.
If perfection is what it takes to make it into the BCS title game, well, so be it. There are very few college football programs equipped to produce a perfect season.
But you're one of them, Texas. And you, USC.