The 8-5 Wisconsin Badgers made the Rose Bowl, and whether they deserve it or not, they will be playing the Stanford Cardinal on Jan. 1 in Pasadena.
Wisconsin didn't commit any NCAA infractions. It didn't foolishly wait a year to self-impose violations, costing itself the chance for its undefeated season to matter. It didn't try to cover up the heinous acts of a pedophile, either.
No, all the Badgers did was just enough to get to the B1G Championship Game, and once they got there, they seized the opportunity and throttled an unsuspecting Nebraska team.
Even with Ohio State and Penn State ineligible for postseason play this year, Wisconsin was expected to be one of the better teams in the Big Ten. But poor quarterbacking and offensive line play coupled with a slow-developing relationship between players and several new coaches set the Badgers back.
OK, so maybe the Badgers don't deserve to be in the Rose Bowl, but it's clearly through no fault of their own. Things may have been viewed a little differently if Wisconsin won a few of the five games it lost by seven points or less, but an 8-5 Rose Bowl team isn't sitting too well with the majority.
But the way the BCS is set up, the winner of the Big Ten plays in the Rose Bowl, and the Badgers looked like a team that unleashed a season's worth of frustration on Saturday night in Indianapolis, as well as a team that had been saving a few tricks up its sleeve.
And who can blame them? Wisconsin clinched a berth in the B1G title game on Nov. 10, and while the Badgers certainly weren't trying to lose against the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions to close out the regular season, they weren't exactly forced to put their best foot forward.
Melvin Gordon was released from his cage, a wide receiver threw a 27-yard completion to his quarterback, and James White threw a touchdown out of the Barge formation. Offensive coordinator Matt Canada went from goat to genius, but that might have been part of the plan all along.
Wisconsin played the NCAA like a fiddle and took advantage of the hand it was dealt. Could it have finished the regular season with a record better than 7-5 (4-4)? Maybe, but it didn't have to.
Nebraska was forced to give it everything it had up to the very last week, as Michigan kept pace with the Cornhuskers in the Legends Division all season. They had nothing new to unveil, and the Badgers had nothing left to lose when the two teams met for the second time this season in Lucas Oil Stadium.
So, that's the story of how Wisconsin is going to the Rose Bowl. Not only are Ohio State and Penn State at fault for this madness, look no further than the NCAA and the Bowl Championship Series.
Greed, incompetence and ignorance of the greater good are probably sufficient ways to describe the sad excuses in charge of the FBS.
Until someone steps in and overhauls the embarrassing BCS system used to determine college football's postseason, these debates will continue year after year—and instituting a four-team playoff after the 2013 season doesn't even come close to solving this issue.
By no means is the selection process for college basketball's postseason tournament flawless, but it's the most riveting playoff in all of sports—so there's that. The FBS would probably be smart to take some notes.
If you think Wisconsin playing in the Rose Bowl is a travesty, consider teams like Georgia, Texas A&M and Oklahoma missing out on BCS bowls while Northern Illinois plays in their place because of rules imposed for reasons unknown to anyone with a brain.
Wisconsin making the Rose Bowl and Northern Illinois reaching the Orange Bowl—heck, even Louisville playing in the Sugar Bowl—are situations that will place heavy underdogs into the bowl season. They are also teams that can show the exact reason why a playoff is imminent in the FBS.
Winning the Rose, Orange, Sugar and Fiesta Bowl is nice and all, but imagine if these games—you know—actually meant something?
An unranked, 8-5 Wisconsin team knocking off the No. 6, 11-2 Stanford Cardinal would be the equivalent of a 12-5 upset during March Madness. Not only that, but the winner would still have a chance at playing for the National Championship!
What's sad is that anyone who isn't a Badgers, Huskies or Cardinals fan will be rooting for the demolition of the underdog for the greater good of college football.
Shouldn't it be the other way around?
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