ATLANTA -- SEC commissioner Mike Slive appeared in the back of the Georgia Dome press box with Auburn leading the conference championship game 14-0.
The evening was full of promise. The Tigers looked like they were on their way to a rout. It was a good time to throw around veiled references to change in the BCS.
|Tommy Tuberville and the Tigers are united in their insistence that they deserve a title shot.(Getty Images)|
Too late. Auburn didn't do nearly enough to overtake Oklahoma and get to the Orange Bowl in beating Tennessee 38-28 in the SEC title game. And with the BCS due to run for at least the next six seasons (without hope for a playoff), it's way too early to speculate about any meaningful change.
In other words, unless there's a monumental upset in Sunday's final BCS ratings, the closest these Tigers will get to the BCS championship game is a television.
Notice that Slive was nowhere to be found when Tennessee rallied to tie it 21-21 or pulled within 31-28 with 10:07 left. What, he might have said privately, was the use?
Tennessee had played close enough. In Auburn clinching its first SEC title since 1989, the Tigers didn't win by enough.
"I'll scream privately," Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville said when asked to consider the inevitable. "It's our system. It's not perfect. It will never be perfect. ... Sure, I'll scream real loud to myself."
As the 2004 regular season came to a close, the only way to follow this mess was on TV. Five unbeatens. Three of them -- USC, Utah and Boise State -- in the clubhouse.
BCS No. 2 Oklahoma and No. 3 Auburn were tied 28-28 at about 9:15 p.m. ET. The problem was, Oklahoma had its 28 in the second quarter against scoreless Colorado on its way to a 42-3 Big 12 title game victory.
Auburn had its 28 late in the third quarter -- Tennessee had 21, the most points the Tigers have given up this season -- before hanging to win by 10.
That's what this insidious system does. Even in its most glorious moment, Auburn's first thought was: Did it do enough to overtake Oklahoma?