- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 8, 2008

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — After last night’s convincing win, LSU can challenge Southern California for the title of best college football program in the country right now.

Since 2002, USC has won 70 games. Ohio State has 66 victories and LSU has 64. Ohio State’s winning percentage in that time is the best among the top schools, but LSU soundly beat Ohio State in the BCS title game 38-24.

Both the Buckeyes and Tigers have won BCS national title games in the last six years. Ohio State upset Miami in the Fiesta Bowl for the 2002 championship, and LSU knocked off Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl to take the 2003 BCS title. The Tigers shared the national championship that season as Southern Cal finished No. 1 in the Associated Press poll.

USC won the national title outright the following season and came up just short of an unprecedented third consecutive championship, losing to Texas in the 2006 Rose Bowl.

And while Ohio State coach Jim Tressel did not want to get into discussions about pre-eminent programs, LSU coach Les Miles turned the question into a subtle recruiting message when asked Sunday.

I can tell you, being in position to play in this game is something everybody in college football wants to be in, Miles said. And I think it’s obvious to say that certainly USC, Ohio State and LSU can say that if you want to play for a national championship, then there’s some advantage to those three locations.

Hot tickets

When two flagship state universities with storied college football programs and enormous fan bases meet for a national championship, the demand for tickets is obviously high.

The Louisiana Superdome’s 74,000 seats sold out immediately and online ticket broker StubHub.com said the BCS championship game surpassed last year’s Super Bowl as the top-selling event in the Web site’s history, based on dollar volume.

Hefty bonus

According to the contract he signed on June 30, 2006, Tressel receives a $200,000 bonus for getting the Buckeyes into a No. 1 vs. No. 2 Bowl Championship Series game.

That figure swells his annual salary to about $2.5 million, not counting academic and graduate-rate bonuses.

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