EDITOR'S NOTE: This was originally written on 1/11/2011. It is reposted today.
We were that close. But its a game of inches, and we fell on the wrong side. I was angry last night. But I've accepted the result. I won't overanalyze the game. We could change one of any number of plays and change the result, but it doesn't do any good to worry about that now. We lost. That is reality.
And that we lost doesn't bother me. I'm not saying I was just happy to be here. Not in a million years. This sucks. I think we all had a lot invested in this one. This was the culmination of the buildup starting from that first Independence Bowl 20 years ago. That one moment of bliss that you spend your sports fandom waiting for. And it was oh so close, and then snatched away.
I'm not worried about hearing from the ESS EEE CEE fans, because I couldn't really give a rip what they think. It didn't bother me hearing junk from the Bavers and Trojans at work this morning, it was their way of dealing with their pain of sitting bowl season out altogether. But all through the day, one thing has kept gnawing at me. One annoying little thought that I just can't get out of my head.
Will we ever get this opportunity again?
We'll be good, for sure. We have arrived as one of the elite programs in college football. Nobody can doubt that. We've dominated our conference. We have a great coaching staff. The best facilities in the nation. And the recruits are pouring in. And we have an administration that's completely committed to athletics.
And those are all important factors. Does anybody dispute that Chip Kelly is one of the best coaches in the nation? I know that we've had a lot of trouble offensively in our last two BCS games. But look at what Oregon has done in the conference. And we have a great shot next season. SC is still on probation. Cal still doesn't have a QB. Stanford's losing their coach. UW still has a lot of holes and will have a new QB. OSU loses Quizz. And Arizona State continues to find ways to pull defeat from the jaws of victory. Despite the seniors we lose, I think we still should get to Pasadena next season.
Also look at the athletes we have done this with. Yes, we have some highly regarded guys, especially at the skill positions. But this roster was full of low star guys and guys nobody else wanted. Nobody else offered scholarships to Jordan Holmes or Jeff Maehl. How many guys on this roster were two star guys? And I know a lot of them went on to be very good players. I have no doubt that our coaching staff got every ounce of talent out of those guys. But there are some things you can't teach. The difference in athletes between Auburn's defensive line and our offensive line showed yesterday, and it showed big. But look at the offensive line class coming in this year. The recruits are starting to come. Its only getting better and better. And we'll see that after a few years of classes like this, the Ohio States and Auburns aren't getting that kind of push any longer.
But its not always enough. Its ridiculously hard to make, not to mention win, a BCS title game. Georgia has all the stuff we have, with a lot more athletes nearby, and they've never made one. Lots of great programs have never made one: Penn State, Michigan, Notre Dame. Its really damn hard. And getting harder with the Pac-12 title game. You can't slip up. And sometimes, even winning all your games isn't enough. Rankings and what other teams do and things completely out of your control come into play.
These opportunities are really hard to come by.
And its not losing that has me down today. Its not knowing if we'll ever get this chance again.