As expected, the BCS/ESPN/SEC cartel decided to just keep the championship game in-house this year, bypassing the Big XII champion OSU Cowboys in favor of matching SEC West division runner-up Alabama against top-ranked and undefeated LSU.

By now, the arguments and records are well known. Alabama and OSU have the same records (11-1), but while the Cowboys played the 10th-toughest schedule in the country, defeating four teams in the top-25 of the final BCS rankings and six teams with winning records, the Crimson Tide defeated three teams in the top-25.

Oh, and Alabama already lost to LSU 9-6 at home in overtime.

None of it matters of course, since ESPN and the BCS decided that since Oklahoma State's loss to Iowa State on November 18 it was at least excusable for them to do what they wanted to do all along, which was guarantee a sixth straight BCS champion for the SEC.

Of course, Alabama has a case for the title game as well, and could very well beat LSU on January 9 in New Orleans. But this is supposed to be a national championship, and if the champion of a conference ranked first or second throughout the season is excluded, then what do you call it?

It is, above all else, a farce.

Most of the blame for this falls on the coaches, the human pollsters. Obviously, Nick Saban has a vote and Mike Gundy doesn't. Why shouldn't that be the case? Of course Gary Pinkel of Missouri voted OSU fourth and the Air Force voted them fifth.

Since one of those schools is leaving the Big XII for the SEC (Mizzou) and the other did not receive a desired invitation into the Big XII, there is obviously no conflict of interest here.

But ESPN retains its title as the undisputed King of the Conflict of Interest. The network and its rabble of so-called experts have been stumping for an all-SEC title game from the moment the Tigers' overtime field goal to beat the Tide sailed through the uprights. All they needed was for OSU to have one off night following an unspeakable tragedy to put their plan into motion.

After OSU's thumping of the Sooners on Saturday night, Kirk Herbstreit, who hadn't even seen the game, said it wasn't enough and that Alabama should be in the title game. Think that didn't have any influence?

The only real arguments for Alabama are these: Alabama had a better loss than OSU. That's a given. The other one is that the Crimson Tide pass "the eye test", which is an argument designed by its very nature to be unassailable. Alabama supposedly just looks like they belong. This has more to do with the uniforms the players are wearing than the players themselves.

Make no mistake, this was all about perception. The SEC is thought to be the best conference in the country, and for the past five years it has been, at least when it comes to national champions. It's too bad voters couldn't see this year for what it was, and they couldn't figure out what the first word in the term national championship is supposed to mean. If you're only going to consider a small portion of the nation's teams for the title, then you don't have a true champion.