Monday, December 08, 2003

BS BCS: College football has been in desperate need of a playoff system for far too long. Despite the controversies year after year, tradition seems to smother common sense.

There are three teams that deserve to be in the championship game this year. USC, LSU, and Oklahoma. Unfortunately only two teams can play at a time.

This has nothing to do with the fact that Oklahoma lost the Big 12 Championship to Kansas State on Saturday. Even if the Sooners won, USC and LSU would have equal bidding to be the challenger for the title game.

The problem is, a one-game tournament just doesn't cut it. It would be very simple to devise a quick playoff system to determine the national champion, just like every other sport (college and pro) has. Here's my idea:

There are six major conferences. The playoff tournament could include the champion of each conference, plus two invitees. Inviting two additional teams would allow for a situation when independents -- such as Notre Dame -- play well enough to be included. Or when a team in a lesser conference -- such as TCU, if they were still undefeated -- rise up to the occasion. Or when the conference losers have stellar records -- such as Oklahoma this year -- so they can play considering they're still one of the best in the nation.

An eight-game tournament would mean just three rounds of playoffs (not counting the conference-championship game) to decide the winner. The games would be finished by mid-January, providing a minimal amount of extra work for the players.

Granted, there would still be controversy allowing only eight to make the playoffs. But at least the top handful of teams will be included, virtually guaranteeing that the best team will have a chance to prove itself as champion. Also, the NCAA should force each conference to have 12 teams so they could all have a conference-championship game. That would include more colleges in the system. And the Big Ten wouldn't even have to change its name. It already has 11 teams in it.

This isn't the only idea. We could simply use the top-eight teams in the AP poll, or even the top-16. But a playoff system would be fairer, less controversial, and more exciting for college football than the BCS system. It's time to unplug the computer and to settle the national championship on the football field.


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