Steamboat Pilot & Today sports reporter and photographer Joel Reichenberger can be reached at 871-4253 or jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com.
Find more columns by Joel here.
It will all work out. That’s the mantra that’s defined most of my consciousness now for nearly two months.
It’s the drumbeat of the BCS, the mysterious system that, if solved properly, promises magical results. A national championship in college football? There may be nothing this side of immediate family capable of bestowing more joy upon my life.
Of course, not many predicted “it would all work out” via an Alabama loss, and for that matter, it pretty obviously isn’t “all worked out” yet. Still, Texas A&M offered another step in what could be one of the all-time great college football “it-all-worked-out” circles with its stunning stemming of the Crimson Tide on Saturday.
Few but the college football faithful or those who’ve watched two decades of football from behind purple glasses realize that when Johnny Football and his Aggies sunk 'Bama, they helped fill a hole their predecessors dug in 1998.
Kansas State was incredible that season, sporting a team that still is probably the most talent rich in the program's history. Going into the final week of football, undefeated K-State had realized a great deal but sat at No. 3 in the still-new BCS formula. Both teams in front played that final week and, against serious odds, UCLA lost. The Bruins were big favorites that day, playing then only because a game scheduled for September had been postponed in the face of a hurricane.
Miami got 299 yards on the ground from Edgerrin James, however, knocked UCLA from the title game picture and put K-State in. Briefly, anyway. The Cats led 27-12 when that game ended and held that score into the fourth quarter. But the Aggies roared back and crushed the hearts of Kansas State fans everywhere with a double overtime victory.
The pain of that loss never has truly disappeared. Typing it out today all but leaves my hands quivering, and there’s a chance I could end up later in the fetal position muttering, “So close, so close, so close...”
It will all work out? It should have that day. If K-State wins its game, it's in. There were three elite undefeateds as late as humanly possible into the college football season. One, then two lost, and as any team with a loss loses the right to complain about the mantra, it did, sadly for me, all work out.
Maybe it's not over, though. If K-State makes this January’s BCS National Championship thanks to a hearty assist from A&M, somehow, someway, it will all have worked out. Hey, we've always known the BCS works in mysterious ways. I've just never seen where karma is calculated.
Of course, that doesn’t do much for an undefeated Notre Dame, if by some miracle the leprechauns march through Southern California in their last game of the season.
Odds are, though, things will work out. I’ve spent most of two months pulling my hair out, examining the minuscule chances of Alabama and/or Oregon losing and always questioning whether my time would be better spent deciding where to start my riot after BCS-induced heartbreak.
The world will be a better place when the BCS finally introduces its now-promised four-team playoff bracket. And it will be a better place a few years after that when an eight-team bracket is instituted.
It certainly will make October and November a little less stressful for fans in the midst of a dream season.
To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com