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ON COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Didn't need a crystal ball to see this coming

January 09, 2008|Chris Dufresne

NEW ORLEANS -- Finally, the end. Peace at last.

Louisiana State won the national title Monday night, Ohio State didn't, and the Sugar Bowl successfully pulled off its complicated double-host duties.

John Swofford of the Atlantic Coast Conference assumed his two-year role as Bowl Championship Series coordinator, replacing Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive, who presided over consecutive national titles for SEC schools.

Nice job.

There was no split title.

LSU Coach Les Miles sat for a Tuesday news conference surrounded by hardware -- the reflection off the BCS crystal football was almost blinding.

"It's nice that there's no indecision," Miles said. "There's one national champion."

USC began the season No. 1 but finished No. 2 in the USA Today coaches' poll and No. 3 in the Associated Press media poll.

Blame Tavita Pritchard.

So there you have it -- one completely nuts season packaged, boxed and sent to the archives.

No more crazy talk about a playoff . . .

Stop.

We interrupt this Pollyanna programming and return you directly to "Hootie and the BCS Blowfish."

This is college football, remember?

An off-season fistfight has already spilled through saloon doors.

Here's the way we figure it went down:

Georgia was mad it didn't get the chance to play for the national title and set out to lob water balloons on LSU's victory parade. Georgia finished second in the AP poll and third in the coaches' index, and that's just too close not to call a news conference.

Remember, Georgia, without losing, got jumped in the final BCS standings by LSU.

The voters decided, in the end, to send the SEC champion to the title game instead of the school that didn't win the SEC East.

So, Michael Adams, president of Georgia, decides this is a good time to feed the Atlanta Journal-Constitution his idea for an eight-team playoff.

Adams had opposed a playoff up until, just a guess here, one minute after the final BCS standings were released last month.

Adams wants the NCAA to take over control of the BCS. OK, and after that he can take over Pluto.

He wants the four major bowls to host first-round games. Assuming the Rose Bowl is still a major, that won't happen.

The Adams plan might have merit if it wasn't so ill-timed and polluted with self-serving interests.

Again, what are we missing here?

Didn't Adams get the memo?

A day before, new coordinator Swofford stood before the Football Writers Assn. of America and said a playoff was a "non-starter."

Gordon Gee, the president of Ohio State, who once famously uttered that the current system would have to be wrestled from "my cold, dead hands," was quoted in USA Today on Monday saying he even opposes the modified Plus One proposal some commissioners are trying to float.

Gee said he was unwilling to plod beyond the BCS, calling it "the Maginot Line" for the postseason.

But that didn't stop Adams -- the same president who hired Jim Harrick and found a way to alienate legendary Georgia football coach Vince Dooley -- from barging into LSU's news cycle.

Slive, the SEC commissioner, tried to be diplomatic.

"The 1st Amendment is alive and well in the SEC," Slive said.

Slive also said, "I'm disappointed because this is LSU's day."

Miles took his own subtle shot at Georgia.

"A year ago we played in the Sugar Bowl and we played a nationally ranked team [Notre Dame] and fared pretty well," Miles said. "And we didn't say anything, because you know why? Because it's about this game; it's about the championship game. And I would think there's a time for proposals and there's a time for adjusting the schedule. But it might not be today."

And officials wonder why people are fed up with the commissioners, presidents and athletic directors who run college football?

The sport can't even break huddle on a season with its story straight.

One minute, reasonable men are trying to build modified playoff consensus as they incrementally nudge the sport into the future.

"It's like a big battleship," Swofford said of the BCS. "You don't turn it around quickly."

The next minute, an SEC president breaks through the door with an ax.

We're guessing Adams' playoff idea is going to end up where all of them do, on the BCS scrap heap.

Last year, Florida President J. Bernard Machen's proposal for an NFL-style playoff was gunned down by SEC presidents, one them named Adams.

This year's playoff plan figures to walk the plank at spring meetings in Miami.

Yet, this is the kind of petty infighting that prevents college football from getting anywhere.

It clutters the off-season with nonsense and feeds the notion that no one has control of anything -- which is only 95% true.

It detracted from Tuesday story lines that intended to look naively toward a 2008 season filled with promise.

Next season in Los Angeles will be the first year of Rick Neuheisel vs. Pete Carroll -- Boy Wonder vs. Older Boy Wonder.

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