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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, December 8, 2003

Let playoff determine champion

By Ferd Lewis
Advertiser Columnist

It wasn't until 3:16 a.m. yesterday morning, Eastern time, that college football's last precinct, better known as the University of Hawai'i-Boise State game, closed in the Bowl Championship Series standings.

That, right away, should tell you a lot about what is wrong with how the BCS goes about picking a national champion.

When the result of a game Hawai'i plays in December can help keep Southern California, a team it played 84 days earlier, out of the national championship game, it is time to find a better system.

When the Warriors and Broncos play a game that has no impact upon even the Western Athletic Conference title or the Associated Press poll (Boise State remained at No. 18), but plays a role in setting a national championship pairing, there is a problem.

While the Warriors' 45-28 loss to Boise State Saturday night alone might not have done in the Trojans, when the difference between playing Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 3 and being shut out of the championship game is 0.16 of a point, there should be concern. And, it isn't just with the Warriors' lengthening inability to beat the Broncos.

When a polling of some of the finest minds of our time, sportswriters and football coaches, tell you USC is No. 1 and a bunch of appliances say it is Oklahoma, who are you gonna believe?

The BCS was created to give us a national championship and avoid split national championships. Or, so the sales pitch went at the time.

Never mind that it is more of a dodge about concentrating the abundant TV riches into the pockets of a few conferences, the BCS this year has brought us neither the pairing of a clear No. 1 vs. No. 2 nor the promise of a single champion.

Compared with this process of picking a champion by computer printout, the old game of comparative scores, which would hold that since Miami of Ohio beat Marshall, which knocked off Kansas State, which upset Oklahoma, the RedHawks should have a place in the Sugar Bowl, suddenly doesn't seem so far-fetched anymore.

But enough of these formulas. Football titles were meant to be decided by people who throw passes and make tackles, not guys who wield slide rules and plot quality win components.

What Division I-A football needs is what I-AA and every other level of football already has, a real, honest-to-goodness playoff system. Cut back the regular season from the 12- and 13-game schedules to 11, take the champions of all 11 I-A conferences, mix in five at-large entries, start the playoffs in December and crown a real national champion in January.

And hurry, please, before USC and anybody else who might entertain championship aspirations decide to drop the Warriors from their schedules.

Reach Ferd Lewis at flewis@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8044.