The year was 1993. Well, actually it was the first day of 1994, after the 1993 college football season.
Well, let’s start over.
It was the early 1990s when college football showed us one of the biggest injustices in the history of sports.
Notre Dame just beat Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl, while Florida State edged Nebraska in the Orange Bowl.
Notre Dame ended the season at 11-1. The Seminoles finished at 12-1.
This was back before the Bowl Championship Series came along and ended all controversy in college football by devising a formula to give college football a true national championship game.
The national title was voted on back then. Sportswriters, historically one of the dumbest collection of people functioning in society, controlled The Associated Press poll. Coaches voted on the other.
Sometimes there were split national champions, but not this year. Both polls voted Florida State No. 1 and Notre Dame No. 2 at the end of the season.
Florida State got to parade around in the national championship caps and T-shirts. Notre Dame and its fans got a lifetime of bitter feelings that will never go away.
The reason the Irish and their fans were so bitter was that on Nov. 13, 1993, the two teams played each other, and Notre Dame won 31-24.
I remember the date because it was on a sweatshirt I wore nearly every day for the next three years.
The next week, though, the Irish lost to Boston College, 41-39, in one of those classic letdown games of all time. It was Notre Dame’s last game before the bowl game, too.
I’ve had many fights about this season over the years. They usually get pretty heated because I am a firm believer that if you think Florida State should have been ranked ahead of Notre Dame that year you are a complete and total moron.
Both teams had one loss, and they played each other. Giving Florida State the title that year would be like awarding the Lombardi trophy to the Patriots after they lost to the Giants in the Super Bowl in February.
Head to head should always be the No. 1 tiebreaker.
“But Notre Dame couldn’t beat Boston College,” was the argument I’d always encounter.
After pounding my head off the wall a few times I’d counter with a forceful “Florida State couldn’t beat the team that couldn’t beat Boston College! Moron!”
So, for the sake of my own sanity, I always said Lou Holtz won two national titles at Notre Dame, 1988 and 1993.
For the record, I also never recognized the Bears “loss” at Green Bay in the 1989 Instant Replay game, and I consider Al Gore the winner of the 2000 presidential election.
On some things, I just never let go.
Why bring up such painful memories?
Well, because on Wednesday afternoon The Associated Press Power Poll will be released, and I suspect Butte High will be ranked No. 2 behind Great Falls Russell.
I think that because CMR was No. 1 last week, while Butte High was No. 3. Helena High, which was No. 2, lost to CMR on Friday. Butte High won at Missoula Big Sky.
Butte High and CMR are the only one-loss teams left in the Class AA, and the teams played each other. Butte High beat the Rustlers 41-20 at Naranche Stadium in the season opener for both teams.
Sure, I can understand the argument that CMR has improved since that game. I understand that coach Jack Johnson’s successful CMR teams are a lot like Mike Van Diest’s Carroll College teams. If you’re going to beat them, you better do it early because they get better and better as the season goes on.
I might even believe somebody if he told me CMR is the best team in the state right now.
Still, you’d have to think Florida State legitimately won the national title in 1993 to vote CMR over Butte High this week.
Sure, you could counter with the “Butte High couldn’t beat Billings Skyview” argument.
Of course, I’d fire back with a forceful “CMR couldn’t beat the team that couldn’t beat Billings Skyview! Moron!”
Skyview, by the way, is very good. Most Class AA teams are, and it wouldn’t surprise most Class AA observers if any of eight teams — maybe more — wins the state title this year.
Still, after seven weeks of football, it is clear to the rational people that Butte High should be ranked No. 1. At least it should be.
Yet, I’d bet a large sum of money that they will be No. 2 instead.
Luckily for the Bulldogs, there is a big difference between Wednesday’s poll and the final 1993 college football polls.
That difference is the AP Power Poll doesn’t mean a thing. It is purely for entertainment purposes.
In fact, I’m betting that Butte High coaches would rather be ranked below the Rustlers tomorrow. Being disrespected in a poll has been one of every coach’s favorite ways to motivate a team.
The Rodney Dangerfield card is the easiest and one of the most successful cards of all time, and it works in every sport and on every level.
The poll also doesn’t have any bearing on the seeding for the playoffs. That is done by record.
While high school football doesn’t have a concrete way to determine a national champion like the BCS, it does have the next best thing — a playoff system. So the arguments will be settled on the field.
If the Bulldogs truly are the No. 1 team in the state, then we’ll find out in late November after the state championship game.
If you are still going to be upset by the Bulldogs being ranked below a team they beat tomorrow, here’s one last nugget to cheer you up: the poll is voted on by sportswriters and sportscasters around the state.
If there’s any group of people more likely to be wrong than sportswriters, it just might be sportscasters.
— Sportswriter Bill Foley, the voice of all rational people, writes a column that will appear in ButteSports.com every Tuesday. twitter.com/Foles74