College football needs a playoff

I'd like to follow up on what my colleague Joe Ellison said in his weekly column that appeared Friday - Oregon got hosed.

It should be Oregon playing in the Fiesta Bowl instead of either Notre Dame or Ohio State.

The Ducks at 10-1 were better than both, but as we all have learned by now, the bowl games are all about money, and we all know that Oregon's appeal is mostly on the West Coast, while Notre Dame's and Ohio State is more nationwide. Oregon's only loss was to USC. Notre Dame almost beat USC, but lost to 5-6 Michigan State. Both Ohio State and Notre Dame lost two games.

It's a horrible injustice, but as long as there are games where bowls can pick their teams, this kind of thing will continue to happen.

I just finished my first season as a voter in the Harris Interactive College Football Poll. It was a lot of fun, yet at the same time, you certainly can see a lot of bias in the voting. The polls are a good thing, only if people vote smart and not based on their geography.

The BCS will get a true championship game this year because Texas and USC have proven they are the best teams in the land over the course of the season, and both were certainly at their offensive best last weekend. And, there are no other undefeated teams in the country.

There are a lot of changes I'd love to see made, and the first thing is to have a playoff to decide things on the field.

As big as March Madness has become, I certainly think an eight-team, three-week football playoff could be huge. Can you imagine the bidding war that would take place between the television networks to grab that plum?

I still think there could be room for bowl games, too, in this format. I know that the money schools get from the various bowls is big, but the money actually realized from a playoff system could be big, too. And, the fans from competing teams might have a chance to actually attend the game without having to pay $1,000 like Nevada fans will have to do if they want to spend a few days in Hawai'i and go watch their beloved Wolf Pack play.

For those of you who think it would extend the season, think again. If the playoff started the week after the final game, it could be wrapped up by the end of the year (Dec. 31). All the other bowl games, except for the BCS games, are done by that time. And, teams could cut down on the amount of games played. You could have a 10-game schedule instead of 12. There are a lot of possibilities out there.

The second thing I'd love to see changed is the automatic invites certain conferences get. We all know that the Big East was one of the worst conferences in the country, yet West Virginia got an automatic BCS game by winning the conference. West Virginia, if I'm not mistaken, never got into the top 10 all year. The Mountaineers had a nice record, but the schedule wasn't the greatest.

The top eight teams in the country, regardless of conference affiliation, should be in the big bowl games at the end of the season. Period. If that means four Big 10 teams make it in the same season, fine. Ditto for the Pac-10, Southeastern Conference, Big 12 or Atlantic Coast Conference.

If that format had been followed this year, Oregon would have been in, as would have Ohio State and Notre Dame. West Virginia wouldn't have been in.

And lastly, I'd like to take a shot at Notre Dame.

The NCAA should require every school to be in a conference for the major revenue sports like football and men's basketball. The Irish is already in the Big East for other sports, so why don't they get into the Big East for football? Again, it's that money thing. They might not have that big lucrative NBC-TV deal if they were in a conference.

Too bad. The Irish schedule isn't as tough year in and year out. Stanford and Navy might disappear off the schedule, and I don't think it would be a bad thing. Personally, I'd like to see Notre Dame go into the Big Ten, which already has 11 teams since Penn State joined several years ago. If Notre Dame joined, the Big Ten would have 12 teams and could have a conference championship game which would mean more money for everybody.

Personally, I don't know what all the hoopla about Notre Dame is about. The Irish football program has struggled a bit in recent years. The move to hire Charlie Weiss was a good one. The Irish are fun to watch again, but they aren't a super power anymore. The school is living off the glory days of the past. Jerry Faust, Bob Davie and Tyrone Willingham didn't get the job done as head coaches, and the Irish didn't get the job done on the field.

Somebody needs to step up and make these things happen. It will only benefit college football in the long run, and isn't that what life is all about, improving on what is already there.


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