By Jason Shoot
Not on one occasion can I remember hootin' and hollerin' in support of the Oklahoma Sooners football team. Not once do I remember playing the role of cheerleader or dressing up like one screaming "Go Sooners go!" or "Kick their butts, Sooners!"
But I will be cheering for the top-ranked Sooners tonight minus the cheerleader outfit, of course.
That is a little tough for me to swallow because I am an aficionado of the program at Florida State. More to the point, I am a very big fan of Seminoles coach Bobby Bowden.
How can you not be? He is a 180-degree turn from the run-run-pass styles too many coaches have adopted and put into their offensive gameplans.
Good luck trying to keep track of all the wrinkles and fluke plays he has put into his offense tonight wide receivers in the backfield, flea-flickers, reverses, halfback passes, hook and ladders. Be on the lookout for the Statue of Liberty play.
Add to his genius a witty Southern charm and Bowden is as likable as any coach you may ever see.
But even Bowden's glowing characteristics will not persuade me to be a Seminoles fan tonight.
Years have passed since a college football season finished without people splitting opinions as to who should be the national champion.
Since 1869, some incredibly bright people have developed 30 different ways to determine just who the correct national champion should be. Journalists, coaches and computers alike have all been guilty of making some very poor choices of champions.
Including 1960, the NCAA national championship has been split 12 times between two or more schools. This would include 1964 (Alabama, Aranksas and Notre Dame) and 1970 (Nebraska, Texas and Ohio State) when the championship was split three ways.
This is the very reason why Oklahoma must win tonight. A win and there is no confusion. The Sooners are national champs. Any argument about the one undefeated team in the nation finishing anywhere other than top-ranked in the country should and would be quickly snuffed out.
But should Oklahoma find it difficult to win tonight because their collective hands are clutched around their throats, then we should be real unhappy campers.
Florida State is going to claim their rightful place is atop the throne because of their victory over previously-unbeaten Oklahoma in the national title game.
The Hurricanes will counter, saying the title is theirs because they convincingly defeated Florida State earlier this season.
The Washington Huskies, kind of lost in the shuffle of all this, have an equal claim to the championship. After all, they too have just one loss and walked all over Miami early this year.
The final score of the Sept. 9 game may have been 34-29, but any Miami player or coach will tell you the game was far more lopsided than that. The Huskies led 21-3 at halftime and had the game in hand early in the fourth quarter.
Washington also gave fifth-ranked Oregon State its only loss of the season (33-30), providing the Huskies with a claim neither Miami or Florida State can match two wins over current top-5 teams.
And the Huskies' only loss came at Autzen Stadium, home of the Oregon Ducks. The Ducks have won a national-best 20 straight games at home and will likely be ranked in the top 10 when the final polls are released following a 35-30 win over Texas in the Holiday Bowl.
So will three teams split the title this year? The odds are better Mister Ed will win the Kentucky Derby.
The East Coast media refuse to recognize the ability of any team west of the Mississippi River. Despite Oklahoma's unbeaten record, the media has largely ignored the Sooners. The simple reason the Sooners are atop every poll is because they keep winning, and somewhere along the line every other school has stumbled.
But do not be fooled. No East Coast journalist feels comfortable putting Oklahoma atop his list. If Miami or Florida State were undefeated, we would hear of the Sooners only in whispers.
Washington, which we may remember split the 1991 national crown with Miami, has been plagued like many other universities in the west. No TV time on the eastern seaboard means no love from journalists and coaches alike, which makes winning a national title an almost-insurmountable uphill fight.
Led by All-American Steve Emtman, the Huskies produced one of the most dominating defenses ever in college football that year.
Miami countered with Gino Torretta at quarterback. The hair grows on the back of my neck when I imagine the thought of Torretta broken in pieces and five Husky defenders towering over him.
Of course, the two teams did not face off against each other that year. Talk of national title games and the Bowl Championship Series was still years away. The BCS was formed prior to the 1998 season.
Had the BCS been created by 1991, Washington would have dispatched of the Hurricanes in easy fashion and enjoyed the national championship for itself.
But thanks to bumbling journalists and coaches on the East Coast, Miami was rewarded and the Huskies screwed. Such is the way college football works. People can talk about faulty computer rankings all they want, but ignorance along the East Coast is the biggest hindrance to finding a true national champion.
This provides just another reason to root for Oklahoma. To bring a little attention out this way for a change.
Let's hope the Sooners are up for the challenge tonight. Otherwise, it's day after day of ESPN and Fox Sports News doing to the national championship picture what TV journalists did to the Gore-Bush battle in Florida.
And even if we can't agree on who to cheer for tonight, we can all agree we don't want any talk of recounts.