In case you missed the news this weekend from DeKalb, the only Illinois university playing in a BCS bowl is the Northern Illinois Huskies.
NIU won the MAC on Friday night in a thrilling game against Kent State, and finished ranked 15th in the final BCS rankings. They will now play Florida State in the Orange Bowl on January 1.
This news led to an epic rant from the talking heads on ESPN, including Kirk Herbstreit calling their placement in the BCS "a joke," pointing out that NIU's only loss came at the hands of the "worst team in the Big Ten," Iowa.
ESPN's analysts were quick to backpeddle on their demolition of the Huskies, saying it's the system that's broken, and that their hatred isn't directed at NIU.
Of course it isn't personal.
The analysts had a good point, though. Georgia, who lost perhaps the best college game of the year in the SEC title game to Alabama, went from potentially battling for a national championship to playing... Nebraska... in the Capital One Bowl. The same Nebraska that had 70 hung on them by five-loss Wisconsin in the Big Ten "championship" game.
Yes, it sucks to be Georgia.
It also sucks to be LSU, Texas A&M, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon State and Clemson. Each of those schools finished ranked higher in the BCS than NIU, but they're on the outside of the BCS looking in.
Step back for a second and count those schools. Out of the 14 schools ranked higher than NIU in the final BCS, seven of them were locked out of the BCS bowls because of fine print.
I get it. The parts of the country not included in the SEC want to be included in the fun, too. When the gong shows that were the Big Ten and Big East failed to put a legitimate title contender on the field this year (that's eligible for the postseason... cough... Ohio State...), their status as automatic qualifying conferences entitled two teams to get into the dance that have just as much right to be there as NIU.
Wisconsin (8-5) will play in the Rose Bowl as Big Ten champion.
Louisville (10-2) will play in the Sugar Bowl as Big East champion.
Herbstreit screams about NIU's loss to Iowa, but Louisville lost to a 5-7 Connecticut that lost five times in a pathetic Big East.
And NIU didn't have a marquee win, but Wisconsin's wins came against Northern Iowa, Utah St, UTEP, Illinois, Purdue, Minnesota, Indiana and Nebraska (who beat the Badgers during the regular season).
During the regular season, NIU had as many marquee wins as Wisconsin and their one loss was just as ugly as the two on Louisville's schedule.
And yet, making the case for Georgia, Texas A&M, NIU or anyone else is pointless.
As much as a team like the Jacksonville Jaguars is playing out the string right now to finish a losing season in the NFL, arguing the merits of the clearly-flawed BCS system is an exercise in futility. It's broken, and the alleged fix is coming in the form of a playoff in two years.
Back in June, a four-team playoff was formally approved and will begin in 2014. The four teams will be chosen by a selection committee, the semifinals will be held at current bowl sites and the national championship game will be awarded to the highest bidder.
Whenever I hear about a "fix" to an NCAA problem that involves phrases like "selection committee" and "highest bidder," I can't be entirely thrilled; the new system doesn't sound any less vulnerable to corruption or open to debate than the current one.
All that will change will be the format that's making people mad.
This year, kids at NIU will have the chance of a lifetime to watch their classmates play the mighty Seminoles of Florida State in a BCS bowl game. They're the first team to "bust" the BCS; good for them. Here's hoping they put on a good show in their game on New Year's Day.