08 December 2008

And in Sports . . .

[Commentary]

Barack Obama is right: College football needs a playoff. It is the only major sport, at either the professional or collegiate level, that has no playoff tournament, and every year that fact gives rise to needless arguing about who should be included in the single, subjectively-determined national championship game and, thus, who is truly the best team.

Now that this year's BCS bowl games, including the national championship game between Florida and Oklahoma, have been set, the predictable and perfectly reasonable arguing have begun. Why not Texas? Why not USC? On any given day, any of those teams, along with the other BCS teams--Alabama, Utah, Penn State, Cincinnati, Virginia Tech, and Ohio State--might be the best team in the country. And let's not forget undefeated Utah and Boise State, along with one-loss Ball State. Why not give them a chance to prove on the field just how good they are?

Here is an easy solution (the one that Obama suggested as well): take the top eight teams and have a single-elimination, three-weekend tournament. Piece of cake. The locations of the seven games could be selected from standard bowl locations, with the championship game rotating through the current BCS locations. The final game could be on January 1, the traditional day of the most important bowl games. Other teams with six or more wins could go to other standard bowls.

Why eight teams? There is nothing special about the number eight. It seems reasonable, however, to think that the best team in the country will be among the top eight at the end of the season; two or four seem too few, and more than eight seems needless. Moreover, an eight-team playoff is easy to administrate.

The fans and coaches have long been in support of this, and now the President-elect is as well. This is a change that we can all believe in.

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