The easiest way to answer the question of who should be invited to the national title game is to tell whom, unequivocally, should not.
That would be the team that got waxed by four touchdowns on Saturday, couldn't win its conference and fooled us all into believing it was invincible by crushing a bunch of sorry teams from Texas.
Oklahoma? Terrific season but forget it. Not after the 35-7 beatdown Kansas State laid on you, one that could have been worse if Bill Snyder had wanted to run up the score.
You can't lose that ugly, you can't play that poorly and you can't look like the No. 3 team (at best) in the final game then make any kind of legitimate claim on the Sugar Bowl. I don't care how you played in October.
Fortunately for the Sooners, there isn't anything legitimate about the farcical way college football tries to crown its champion. Some powerful conference commissioners dreamed up the Bowl Championship Series in an effort to consolidate power and hoard money.
Fairness, the players and the fans be damned.
If the BCS gurus should be believed – and they are not often wrong – we will be treated to a championship game featuring a humiliated Oklahoma team and LSU.
Meanwhile, the team that will likely be ranked No. 1 in both national polls, USC, will wind up out of the money in the Rose Bowl.
It is enough to make you believe in the inherent fairness of boxing, figure skating and Iraqi elections.
The only good news that could arise from an Oklahoma-LSU Sugar Bowl would be if the Trojans won the Rose. Then the Associated Press probably would reward them with a share of the national title.
It's not like the Trojans (11-1) wouldn't deserve it. USC's only loss came in overtime at Insight Bowl-bound California in September. The Trojans have beaten everyone else by 17 points or more. They wrapped up an outright Pacific-10 Conference title by, as Barry Switzer would say, hanging half a hundred (plus two) on Oregon State.
"We did all that we could," USC coach Pete Carroll said.
If it were up to common sense (not the C or S in BCS), the Trojans would face 12-1 LSU, which beat No. 5 Georgia (again) 31-14 on Saturday to win the SEC. The Tigers have the best defense in the nation, allowing just 10.9 points a game. Only a 17-9 loss to Florida tarnishes LSU's record.
"We've taken care of the business we could take care of," LSU coach Nick Saban said.
LSU probably will get its shot due to computer programs somehow making the Tigers No. 2, keeping 12-1 OU No. 1 and putting USC No. 3. This is the B.S. of the BCS, though. It is not designed to make sense, just money. Complain if you want, but the only football executives joining the protest will be from the Pac-10. Nothing is likely to change.
Besides, the public has been sold this bill of goods before and come back for more.
Only two years ago the BCS told us a Big 12 team that lost its final game by 26 points, didn't win its conference and looked like a good candidate for the Poulan Weedeater Bowl should make the title game instead of a high-powered Pac-10 team.
In 2001 Nebraska got in, Oregon got screwed, Miami got a title-game cupcake and America got bored.
Well, nothing has changed. Oklahoma, which had a nice season but right now looks good only to a computer, probably will be headed to Bourbon Street. LSU will probably join the Sooners.
And USC, unchallenged for two months, probably will be frozen out.
Until this bogus system is replaced by a playoff (which is only good enough for every other division of college football), this great sport remains a joke.
With the punch line, of course, on the players and fans who deserve better.