1973 College Football Season and 2014 Playoff System

In 2014, we are dropping the BCS and going with a new playoff system consisting of 4 teams.

Will this work in determining a true national champion?

As recently as 2003 and 2004 we have had serious controversy over the true national champion and maybe even later than that.

In 2003, USC claimed one national championship, while LSU claimed another. There’s no doubt in my mind that USC was the real national champion and they wiped out every SEC team they faced in that time period under Pete Carroll. Check the record books if you don’t buy that. They beat Auburn in a home and home series and it was not as close as the score indicated and they humiliated West SEC champion Arkansas both times they played them. They beat a bad Arkansas team 70-17 and then again the next season 50-14 when the Hogs won the SEC West.

Auburn claims they were left out of the 2004 championship game in which USC stomped OU. Maybe there were better than OU and maybe they weren’t, but they sure weren’t better than USC. I know Auburn fans will not agree with that.


Controversy will still be the order of the day with the new playoff system as some teams feel like they belong in it.


I don’t claim to have an answer for the method of determining the national champions. Actually, I think it’s still fun to debate who should have been national champion on any given year.


1973 was the most unusual year in my life time of college football watching.


Back then, there were no Overtime games. The games that finished in a tie ended as a tie. The Pac 8 and the Big 10 teams that did not win their conference did not go to a bowl game. Strange days. There are too many bowl games now, but too many is better than an undefeated Michigan team staying home for Christmas.


The 1973 regular season finished with 7 undefeated teams.


Notre Dame claimed the National Championship by beating the Alabama Crimson Tide in the Sugar Bowl on December 31st, 1973 in an absolute classic of a game.

Alabama was the only undefeated team after the season was over to not be still undefeated after the bowl games were played.


Notre Dame finished 12-0 and had a nice claim to be National Champions and in my book they earned it. But, I can see other people’s points of view as well.

Oklahoma was 10-0-1 but was ineligible to play in a bowl game because they were on probation. Oklahoma had an outstanding team in 1973 and many think they would have beaten any other team in a bowl game.

Ohio State went 10-0-1 and mopped the floor with USC, 42-21, in the Rose Bowl and had a decent case to be #1.


Michigan went 10-0-1 and stayed home for the Holidays. The Big 10 Presidents took a vote to determine who would represent the Big 10 in the Rose Bowl after Michigan and Ohio State battled to a 10-10 tie. Ohio State had been #1 before the tie. The Presidents, genius individuals that they were, picked Ohio State by a 6-4 vote and Michigan Coach Bo Schembechler thought they picked Ohio State because the Michigan QB had gotten injured in their game. I believe that theory was correct.


Penn State went 12-0 and beat LSU in the Orange Bowl. They had the Heisman Trophy winner, John Cappelletti and had as valid of a claim to be national champion as anyone.

Penn State being left out of the national championship with an undefeated team is nothing new. It’s happened several times in their history.


Miami of Ohio was the one school that would have been left out no matter what and no matter when it had happened. Apparently, they were really good as their 16-7 bowl win over Florida would indicate. They finished 11-0.


The new playoff system would only have taken 4 of these teams.

Oklahoma was not going to be included because of probation.

That leaves Notre Dame, Alabama, Ohio State and Michigan. Penn State still gets left out and so does Miami of Ohio deserving or not.


The new playoff system seems to be an upgrade over the BCS system, but if something like 1973 happens again then we still might have a problem on our hands.

2 thoughts on “1973 College Football Season and 2014 Playoff System

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