I wrestled with my AP ballot from the moment Utah drilled Alabama 31-17 in the Sugar Bowl on the night of Jan. 2 until the end of Florida’s 24-14 BCS title-game win over Oklahoma Thursday night.
What tipped me to Utah was when I entered Carver-Hawkeye Arena late Thursday afternoon, and a Per Mar security person said “Mike, you’ve got to vote for Utah.”
“OK, I will,” I said, and proceeded to watch bad basketball and then file a column on it. I had ample time to listen and then watch to the second half of the Gators-Sooners game.
It’s a good thing that Per Mar guy didn’t tell me to throw eggs on the court or drop a thousand thumbtacks on the steps leading to the arena floor, huh?
All right, before this goes any further – I made up my own mind. And I admit a Florida blowout of Oklahoma would have made it harder to hit the “send” button when I e-mailed my Utah-No. 1 pick to New York late Thursday night.
If Florida were to play Utah next week, would I bet on the Utes? No.
So what? I wouldn’t bet on Florida were it to play USC next week, but I ranked the Gators second and the Trojans third. We’re voting on a season of work, and I like what UF did slightly more than what USC accomplished.
Utah’s season was perfect. I don’t think you can do better than perfect, especially when the perfect run ended with an utterly fabulous performance against an Alabama team that was ranked No. 1 in the nation for five weeks.
Did the Utes play Florida’s schedule. They did not.
Did they get upset at home by anyone the way Florida fell to Ole Miss? They did not.
Would they be able find any SEC teams who would schedule home-and-away series with them? They would not.
The only reason Utah isn’t the national champion, as far as we’ll ever know from now until nothing remains in Salt Lake City but, uh, salt, is that it never got the chance to play for the title.
This isn’t a Mid-American Conference or Sun Belt Conference team that ran the table and finished with a win in a Motor City or GMAC Bowl, both of which are seeking government bailouts.
No, this is a team from the Mountain West Conference, which won six of eight games against the Pac-10 this season. It’s a legit league, one that deserves a place at the BCS trough. Not that the six greedy-pig BCS conferences will ever start sharing with others.
By the way, Iowans, I had the Hawkeyes 16th. That may actually have sold them a little short. Had they won one more game, I think you could have made a loud argument to have them at 10th or 11th in the final rankings.
Ifs and buts. Like what if Utah had played Florida …
My top 25 ballot:
8. Penn State
9. Ohio State
10. Boise State
13. Texas Tech
15. Oklahoma State
17. Virginia Tech
19. Oregon State
24. Michigan State