Originally created 11/10/99

One last time: College football needs a playoff



I promise -- a cross-my-heart, hope-to-die, stick-a-needle-in-my-eye promise -- that this will be the final cathartic take on how college football desperately needs a playoff tournament to crown its national champion.

So that means one last moan about how much television revenue and fan interest could be generated from a four-week, 16-team, 15-game extravaganza.

One more whine about the inadequacies and unfairness of the Bowl Championship Series, and its grand wizard of witlessness, Roy Kramer.

This is it, I swear. This is it ... until next season, when the same trouble will keep churnin' 'round the mountain. And the season after that, and after that, and after that, and so on.

If you haven't noticed, this is a repetitive cycle. Since a Division I-A playoff is not deemed feasible by the powers that be, despite a playoff of some sort at every level of every other sport around, football fans are instead fed this BCS.

This week's biggest cause for headaches stems from undefeated Virginia Tech winning, albeit a squeaker at West Virginia, and losing a spot to one-loss Tennessee. Should the rankings stay static, there's a good possibly of a national championship rematch with Florida State.

So who's better: Tennessee or Virginia Tech? Who knows.

One computer, using permutations and quadrants and a ratio of academic tutors to ESPN haters divided by orange-haired freaks, believes it's the Volunteers. Another, factoring in the number of folks who danced the Hokie Pokie at one time and the difficulty of actually finding Blacksburg, Va., on a map, tabs Tech.

This is what modern day college football has denigrated itself to. You can't crown a national champion without first asking Sagarin and Dunkel. Doesn't Bill Gates get a vote?

Since there are no rocket scientists playing college football, why should a fan need to be one to explain the ranking system? Two national polls, eight computer rankings, strength-of-schedule ratings and bonus points for all correct Who Wants to be a Millionaire? answers without calling your friends.

There are numerous problems to the whole charade. Like how can two teams whose paths do not intersect be judged against each other solely on the basis of schedule strength? Like how can a team from a smaller conference, no matter how much of a juggernaut they are, ever win a national title? (Ask 11-0 Tulane.) Like who are Richard Billingsley, Kenneth Massey and David Rothman, and how did their computer rankings get included?

Football is not, and should not ever be, a cyber-game.

True, Virginia Tech's schedule is jellybean soft, but a playoff would expose that. Beating BYU, Nebraska, Tennessee and FSU in successive weeks would validate the Hokies or Marshall or any other team out there. Now we've got computers detailing bowl games.

Even more troubling is this scenario: Should Florida somehow upset Florida State and win the SEC championship, the Gators might leapfrog the Hokies.

That would be ideal wouldn't it? Two one-loss teams in Florida and Tennessee playing for the title, while possible unbeatens Virginia Tech, Kansas State and Marshall are reduced to lesser-tier bowls.

A better use of the BCS would be to determine playoff seeds. That way you stop debating about No. 1 and start beating the Who's No. 16? drum.

Think about it. Even Georgia, without a quality win this season, with a suddenly concussion-prone quarterback, with no receivers to speak of, could still contend for the title as 16th seed. So would a 15th-seeded Georgia Tech, a team lacking in tackling and killer instinct, a team that suffered an $8 million loss at Virginia's hands.

That's what my computer tells me.

Reach Rick Dorsey at (706) 823-3219.