For all its flaws and greed-based manipulation, say this for the now gone and unlamented Bowl Championship Series: It gave us a top-drawer farewell.
Florida State 34, Auburn 31 had everything, from a dramatic comeback -- the Tigers were up 21-3 in the second quarter -- to a dazzling kickoff return (thanks, Levonte Whitfield) to 834 total yards of offense to a near -record performance by a player on the losing team (thanks, Tre Mason and your 195 rushing yards, five shy of the BCS title game record).
And, of course, in the end, it had the cementing of a legend.
At FSU it will now always be immortalized as the Drive, the 80-yard excursion directed by Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston with the clock racing toward zero. When Winston beat it with 13 seconds to spare on a 2-yard game-winning pass to Kelvin Benjamin, the statue was already going up down in Tallahassee.
Not to mention everywhere else in the country weary of seeing the SEC win another national title.
Among the precedents shattered in this one -- biggest deficit overcome; first time a team trailing at halftime won the BCS title game -- was the presumption of total SEC dominance over college football. Auburn's loss was the third for an SEC team in the postseason, against six winners. Still a nice winning percentage, but nothing that suggests the SEC can throw its hat out there and expect to win against the rest of the country.
Or so says Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops who backed up his earlier downing of the SEC with a two-touchdown win over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.
"When I made the comment, the bottom half of the SEC was like zero-and-36 against the top half of the SEC," he said on Colin Cowherd's ESPN radio show the day after the game. "You realize that? A year ago … nobody talks about that. My point was, don't say SEC like they're all doing that
"Hey, I've got total respect for Alabama, but you can't deny what we did last night. Obviously, we can play with anybody, whether it's the SEC or anyone else. And to say we can't … well, Alabama's been rolling the SEC for the last three years and we didn't seem to be overwhelmed last night. I'm done with that talk."
So are the rest of us.