Last Mumme Poll vote of the year. If you haven't gotten yours in yet, go to it.
Here's my final ballot. As always, your input is appreciated.
THE NATIONAL CHAMPS
1.) Alabama. No doubt about this one. I had Alabama atop my poll for the vast majority of the season, and while I'm disappointed we didn't get to see how the national championship game would have played out with a healthy Colt McCoy, there's zero question in my mind that the best team in the country is the one with the crystal trophy.
THE REST OF THE TOP FIVE
2.) Boise State. They didn't lose. They beat both Oregon and TCU this season. They were rarely even challenged. Beyond that, we're just guessing at what might have happened if they'd played a tougher schedule. But we don't know. All we know is Boise State won every one of their games, which is good enough for the No. 2 spot in my book. (Particularly when, before the bowls, I had TCU at No. 2 and felt good about it.)
3.) Texas. Again, I'd have loved to see Colt McCoy play the whole game. Who knows what might have happened. But part of the reason the McCoy injury was so brutal was because Texas was really never a great all-around team. They were far too dependent on McCoy. So credit to the Horns for keeping it relatively close -- which is more than a healthy TIm Tebow could do against 'Bama -- but this is as high as I can put them.
4.) Florida. I still think 'Bama was the only serious test Florida got all year, and they were blown out in that game. Cincy had a remarkable season, but when you've been ditched by two coaches in three weeks leading up to your bowl… well, that can take the air out of your tires a bit. Still, I have no problem calling Florida the fourth-best team in the country.
5.) TCU. Yes, they lost to Boise State, but maybe that shouldn't be a knock on them. After all, they beat six teams that won bowl games during the regular season. This is a very good team, and worthy of a top-five vote.
THE NEXT SEVEN
6.) Ohio State. Begrudgingly. But in truth, I'm not sure that a win in a bowl game six weeks after their last regular-season game should make me overlook their utter incompetence in non-conference play in the previous three years, but I don't see anyone else that I could make an honest case for placing above them.
7.) Iowa. As impressive a bowl win as any, and when you consider that their only two losses of the year were both close and came without their starting quarterback, I give the Hawkeyes a bit of extra credit.
8.) Cincinnati. It would be easy to overlook a great regular season because of how they fared in the Sugar Bowl. But again… hard to blame them for looking bad after all that happened to them during December.
9.) Virginia Tech. The Hokies thoroughly dominated Tennessee and their three losses this year were to two teams playing in BCS bowls (including the national champs) and a three-point loss to North Carolina. VT was probably the best team not playing in a BCS bowl game.
10.) BYU. The Mountain West showed well during bowl season, the Cougars thumped a surging Oregon State team, and their only losses this year were a strange one to Florida State (which at least had the talent to be a good team) and to TCU. Very solid, if unspectacular.
11.) Oregon. Yes, they lost to Ohio State, which obviously comes with a stigma during bowl season. And no, the Pac-10 did not do well in the bowls, which makes me reconsider how strong the conference really was. But the fact remains that Oregon was a solid top-10 team for me all year and so I'm not changing my mind on that based on just the bowl game. Although I did consider it.
12.) Penn State. I've worked to overlook Penn State all year because their schedule was a total joke. And to be honest, a close win over LSU isn't all that impressive to me. But it was just enough to move them into the top 12. Still, you could easily find 25 teams with more impressive wins than Penn State has.
JUST MISSED THE CUT
13. Nebraska. Finished as strong as anyone.
14. Georgia Tech. Finished as bad as anyone.
15. Pittsburgh. Cincy's flop (and the overall incompetence of the Big East) in bowl season didn't help Pitt's resume. I think they could be a top-five team next year though.
A few last thoughts...
-- I definitely took the bowl games into serious consideration when filling out my final ballot, but I tried not to weight them any more heavily than I would a big regular-season game.
-- The toughest calls for me were on Oregon (which I really didn't know what to do with) and Penn State (which I just don't think has a really impressive win on their resume).
-- Here's my feelings on the BCS: Yes, they got it right in the title game. If there had been a playoff, I'm fairly certain that the final would have been Alabama beating Texas. So that's great.
But imagine if you will a scenario in any other sport where the postseason began a full month after the regular season ended and there were a half-dozen coaching changes in between for teams still playing and the matchups were set arbitrarily by a third party unaffiliated with the sport's governing body and there were teams that everyone was impressed by throughout the year but they didn't get a shot at a title because they had never won one in previous years and some teams only had to play 12 games to get into the postseason but others had to play 13 and the network that broadcast many of those postseason games didn't carry any of your sport's games all year.
What would you think if I told you that scenario took place in the NFL or in Major League Baseball? You'd call it absurd. You wouldn't stand for it. No one would take it seriously for a second. But because this is how college football has always worked, for some reason it's OK.
I'm not going to sit here and say a playoff fixes all college football's postseason problems. I don't beleive that at all. But the current system is downright absurd to the point that the results of most of these bowl games are effectively meaningless. I love bowl season. I love college football. But I hate this system to the point that it clouds my enjoyment of every game that happens this time of year.