(Updated with standings and BCS bowl projections, with analysis below)
Auburn is going to play Oregon in the BCS championship game. That's not a surprise.
The SEC, with help from the NCAA, isn't going to suspend Auburn quarterback Cam Newton even though the NCAA investigation has confirmed that Newton's father Cecil has broken a rule that in almost all instances would've rendered the player ineligible.
That, is not a surprise, either.
Digging deep into lawyerlese, SEC commissioner Mike Slive somehow found a way to justify the decision not to suspend Newton. But really, did anyone expect him to sit the SEC's meal ticket, the one who could run the SEC's streak in the BCS title game to five?
Not to mention the untold millions from both the BCS payout and added exposure for the conference.
This is the conference that has a coach who keeps on truckin' even though more than two dozens of his players have been arrested for one offense or another. Another coach who's made a habit of kicking substandard players off the team by accusing them of 'violating team rules' or claiming that they had career-ending injuries. How about oversigning? The SEC practically invented it.
You don't become the self-proclaimed "toughest conference in college football" by graduating players and keeping them out of jail. Or by scheduling decent teams in OOC games instead of having a tour of the Sun Belt and mauling whatever I-AA schools scattering throughout the old Confederacy.
Auburn's appearance in the BCS championship game is not a vindication of the SEC, but an indictment of it. This is a conference that has decided that it values winning above all else and therefore rules must be bent to satisfy that goal.
That is truly unfortunate. The SEC has plenty of law-abiding players who compete to play high-caliber football; and it has arguably the most rabid fans of anywhere in the country, even though some of them share the value system of those that run the conference.
So for the fifth year in a row and seventh time overall, an SEC team will take part in the BCS title game. By any means necessary.
(By the way, CBS really ought to be ashamed of that SEC championship broadcast, one that would've made Pravda and Xinhua proud. From Gary Danielson's absurd defense of Slive's decision, to Tracy Wolfson's sharing bodily fluids with Cam Newton. I thought they couldn't have topped their 2006 title game performance, but I was wrong.)
Projected BCS standings and matchups (for non-BCS bowl projections, see chart):
1. Oregon, 2. Auburn, 3. TCU, 4. Stanford, 5. Wisconsin, 6. Ohio State, 7. Oklahoma, 8. Arkansas, 9. Michigan State, 10. LSU, 11. Boise State, 12. Missouri, 13 Virginia Tech, 14. Oklahoma State, 15. Nevada.
BCS Championship: Oregon vs. Auburn
Rose Bowl: TCU vs. Wisconsin
Sugar Bowl: Arkansas vs. Ohio State
Orange Bowl: Virginia Tech vs. Stanford
Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma vs. Connecticut
If even as many as one voter decided to flip his vote from Auburn to Oregon, the Ducks will be No. 1. The computer scores will be unchanged and the human votes are that tight. The projection is that maybe a handful of voters will change their votes to Oregon because of the Newton saga. But maybe not. In any event, it's largely irrelevant other than Oregon's uniform options.
The projection also calls for the Orange Bowl picking Stanford over UConn. Since neither school is expected to travel well, Stanford is fourth-ranked (vs. the currently unranked Huskies) with just one loss, and a compelling storyline involving coach Jim Harbaugh, who may be headed elsewhere. It's still possible that Fiesta makes the Orange an offer for future concessions and then the Orange bites the bullet and takes UConn instead.