August 7th, 2009 5:33 pm | by HANK STERN News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, Sports

A Partial Defense of College Football's Championship "System"


Short of showing up at a college football tailgate with a case of O'Doul's, there's no more surefire way to make yourself unwelcome at a pregame function than to take a stab at defending the Rube Goldberg system of deciding a college football champion without a playoff system.

But let me take that stab here by using the college football rankings that just came out, as a way of showing just how important the current system at least makes the regular season.

Oregon is ranked 14th in the new poll. And whatever long-odds hopes the Ducks have of a national championship cannot be achieved if they lose during the regular season. Three of Oregon's first four games are against other teams in the top 25: 16th ranked Boise State, 18th ranked Utah and 12th ranked Cal.

Unlike, say c0llege basketball allowing major-conference schools to lose throughout what's become an easy-to-ignore regular season and still make the post-season tournament, college football doesn't let Oregon lose more than one of those early-season games and remain in any kind of serious contention.

Yes, you can gripe about the unfairness of ranking teams that haven't played a game yet this year or the voting silliness that breaks out every season. But there is no doubt that each game against Boise State, Utah and Cal will matter much, much more to Ducks fans (as well as fans of Boise State, Utah and Cal) than they would if there were a 32-team playoff with three-and four-loss teams.

FWIW, my happy solution: an eight-team playoff with champions from the six BCS conferences plus two at-large teams.
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