November 17, 2012; Gainesville FL, USA; Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp talks with teammates during the second quarter against the Jacksonville State Gamecocks at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

Muschamp: "We Knew the Rules of Engagement"

The end of college football’s regular season means the start of silly season.  That time of year when school’s get rid of coaching staffs that aren’t quite cutting the mustard in search of the next big thing.  It’s also the that time of year for BCS bellyaching. Bellyaching by fans and media who complain that the BCS is flawed and ultimately still doesn’t match up the two best teams nor the two most deserving teams. The only thing the BCS does better than pit number one and number two against each other is screw two, three, or four other seemingly deserving teams.

In prior years Florida was the recipient of strength of schedule boosts and supposed BCS bias towards SEC teams to get it into two championship games. Then the argument was that the Gators played a tougher schedule than other teams in the running and, as such, the Gators deserved to be in the game over the other one-loss teams. This year, in spite of playing the toughest schedule in the nation and having a resume which can’t be touched by any other contenders, they were left out.

Left out to a Notre Dame team that certainly played a varied schedule with teams from many different conferences but hardly even close to that which Florida played. Left out to an Alabama team that is probably riding more on name than substance this season. They’ve played two remotely tough teams all season and they lost to one and should have lost to the other if not for the inimitable Les “Mad Hatter” Miles bumbling things on the other sideline. Left out to a Georgia team that, yes, did beat Florida, but barely.  It’s not like the Gators lost 35-7 like the Bulldogs did to South Carolina.

That Johnny Football guy that tore through Alabama’s vaunted defense in the fourth quarter? Florida shut him down the whole second half to come from behind… on the road. That South Carolina team that handed Georgia the worst regular season loss by a potential championship game contender? Florida beat them 44-11, one of four teams in the current BCS top thirteen that Florida beat this season.

So excuse me if I, or any other Gator fans for that matter, vent.  BCS blah, blah, blah… unfair blah, blah, blah… strength of schedule blah, blah, blah… resume blah, blah, blah… Anybody connected to the University of Florida in any way, shape, form or fashion should be screaming from the mountaintop, the Gators got screwed.

Everybody, that is except for head football coach Will Muschamp.  Coach, do you expect any frustration over not getting a chance to play for a championship considering the strength of your resume?

“We knew the rules of engagement,” Muschamp said on Monday. “at the beginning of the season.”

The rules of engagement. The dreaded rules of engagement. If there’s anything that kills a good beef or conspiracy theory it’s logic.  You see, what bellyachers forget is the BCS was never set up to be a perfect system. It was designed to overcome the flaws of the old system. Remember the old system. Bowls controlled everything and were making sweetheart deals months before the end of the season and, as such, were giving us games like BYU-Michigan to help determine a championship. Number one almost never played number two in an arguably flawed system of human polls. Different polling organizations often named different champions and there was no standard for ranking teams.

The BCS was designed to pair a number one ranked team with a number two ranked team using a system considered to be better at determining them then straight human voting. It was supposed to remove the whining and complaining about the systematic flaws of naming a champion under the old system. Instead it just created more whining and complaining.

Rule number one of the BCS system is that the top ranked team in the final BCS standing plays the second ranked team in the BCS Championship game.

Rule number two of the BCS is if there is ever a doubt who deserves to play in the BCS Championship game, refer to rule number one.

The rules of engagement. We knew them at the beginning of the season.

“I’m not going to sit there and bellyache about the rules,” Muschamp said. “They were set when the season started.”

Just like I said to Michigan fans in 2006 when they were left out in favor of the Gators, there is no argument. The system is set up the way it is and we all agreed to it going in, so nobody has any business complaining about it after the fact. There’s two things a team can do if they do not agree with the BCS rules: 1) play somebody, 2) go undefeated.

Muschamp echoed that sentiment on Monday.

“I’m not going to sit there and complain about it,” Muschamp said. “It is what it is. We had our opportunity in Jacksonville and we didn’t get it done. That’s our fault and nobody else’s.”

“We should have won the game.”

Notre Dame’s in, you know why? Not because of their famously tough schedule. Not because of their on-field domination. And not because they are necessarily the best team in the nation.  No, they’re in because they outlasted everybody else. When other teams blinked, they kept their stare straight ahead. When other teams hiccuped they continued their zen breathing techniques. When other teams found a way to lose a game along the way, they found a way to win… every one. The fun thing about playing in the SEC is you win, you’re in. Plain and simple.

Just win, baby!

Win you’re in, lose and you’re at the mercy of so many different variables. In this case the oddest variable was Gator fans rooting for a Lane Kiffen coached USC team to beat Notre Dame last weekend as that was likely their only way in to the championship game.  Boy, the BCS might not necessarily match the two best teams on the field but it sure does make for some strange bedfellows.

The toughest variable of all, however, is the simple bias of poll voters which still makes up two-thirds of the BCS standings. Human voters most of which probably haven’t seen four quarters of Gator football all season cast votes based on media perceptions. In this case, the multitude of stories bandied about criticizing the Gators rather pedestrian style of offense affected poll voters who perceived them to not be as strong as some other teams with flashier offenses. For the Gators in this instance, perception is reality.

So here we are, Gator Nation, left to fret and wonder what if? Mostly, what if they had committed one less turnover against Georgia. What if indeed.

Doesn’t really matter though. You know why?

“It is what it is. We had our opportunity in Jacksonville and didn’t get it done. That’s our fault and nobody else’s.”

Bottom line:

“We should have won the game.”

What’s that coach Muschamp?

“We knew the rules of engagement at the beginning of the season.”



Tags: BCS Championship Game BCS Standings Florida Gators Gator Football Will Muschamp

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