What If The Playoff Existed In 2006?
By: Mike Stone
College football fans are euphoric over the news that the BCS is dead and there will be a four team playoff beginning with the 2014-15 season. A selection committee will pick the four teams that will participate. If they used the new system last season the matchups would have been top ranked LSU meeting 4th ranked Stanford in one semifinal, with #2 Alabama taking on # 3 Oklahoma State in the other. Certainly those games would have been entertaining to say the least, but despite LSU’s impotence in the title game I think we would have still ended up with an LSU-Alabama title game.
What would happen though if the system was in place for the 2006 season? Yes that 2006 season, where Michigan fans though the Wolverines got hosed out of the national title game because the voters did not want a rematch with Ohio State. At the end of the regular season the BCS rankings were Ohio State at number one followed by Florida, Michigan, and LSU. So 5th ranked and one loss USC would have been left out. That would be the same USC team who had little trouble beating Michigan in the Rose Bowl.
So let’s look at the matchups which coincidentally were previews of bowl games the next season
Ohio State vs. LSU…Jim Tressel’s team had a powerful offense behind Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Troy Smith. His receivers included Ted Ginn Jr., Brian Hartline and Antonio Gonzalez. They had Antonio Pittman and freshman Beanie Wells running the ball and a defense that featured James Laurinatis, Quinn Pitcock, Vernon Gholston, and Malcolm Jenkins. LSU on the other hand featured quarterback Jamarcus Russell, receivers Dwayne Bowe and Craig Davis, plus safety LaRon Landry and defensive lineman Glenn Dorsey.
Florida vs. Michigan .Everyone remembers Tim Tebow, but he was just a freshman. Chris Leak got the majority of the snaps. The other big name on offense was Percy Harvin but he was also a freshman, thus Dallas Baker and Andre Caldwell were the go to guys. The Gators were led by their defense. Derrick Harvey and Jarvis Moss anchored one of the fastest lines I can remember seeing. Reggie Nelson anchored the secondary and their linebackers including Brandon Siler and freshman Brandon Spikes were not too shabby either. Michigan as you remember had a great offense with Chad Henne, Mike Hart, Mario Manningham, Steve Breaston, and Jake Long among others. The defense had the likes of LaMarr Woodley, Alan Branch, Leon Hall, and David Harris…
I honestly believe that despite the talent of the Big 10 teams, we would have had an all SEC team final. As good as Ohio State and Michigan were the speed of LSU and Florida especially on defense would have been too much for them. We saw that in the title game when Florida manhandled the Buckeyes 41-14. The Michigan-Florida game would have been a classic. I honestly believe the Wolverines would have given Florida a run for their money but they would have come up just short. I know the Michigan fan would tell me that Michigan beat Florida the next year in Lloyd Carr’s finale, but that relentless Florida defense under defensive coordinator Greg Mattison would have prevailed.
As for the title game, it would have been a rematch of an earlier game. Florida won the first game 23-10 and they would have won the second as well and been national champs.