|RUSSO ON FOOTBALL: Good idea, bad timing by Georgia president on playoff proposal|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 08 January 2008 10:44|
All of sudden, University of Georgia president Michael Adams wants to blow up the Bowl Championship Series and have the NCAA sponsor an eight-team playoff.
Amazing how some people can only see the light after they've been poked in the eye.
Adams held a news conference in Athens, Ga., on Tuesday, a few hours after LSU coach Les Miles held one in New Orleans.
Adams, who is chairman of the NCAA executive committee, figured the day after LSU defeated Ohio State 38-24 in the BCS national championship game was the perfect time to unveil his playoff proposal.
So when Miles arrived at a hotel to take care of his last bit of business with the media, have his picture taken with some shiny hardware, provide a few final thoughts on the Tigers' victory and nearly get choked up a couple of times while talking about his players, family and LSU, he was also greeted with a question about Adams' idea.
Miles handled it deftly, while making it clear he wasn't happy that the leader of LSU's rival Southeastern Conference school, which finished second in the final AP poll, decided to steal the Tigers' spotlight.
``Whatever the rules are is fine with me,'' Miles said. ``I can tell you this, a year ago if we had an eight-team playoff, we might've fared pretty well. This might've been our second trophy. I look forward to whatever setup there is.''
Then he added: ``There's a time for proposals. There's a time for adjusting the schedule. It might not be today.''
Even SEC commissioner Mike Slive, who essentially works for the university presidents, gave Adams a light slap on the wrist.
``I was disappointed that the story came out today. This is LSU's day and the Southeastern Conference's day,'' said Slive, whose two-year term as the BCS coordinator ended with Monday night's game.
About 24 hours earlier, Slive and Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner John Swofford, the incoming BCS coordinator, told reporters they would encourage a serious evaluation of the BCS going to the so-called plus-one model in three years.
Nobody wants to call it a playoff, that's a scary word to the decision-makers, but the plus-one Slive and Swofford support would be a four-team elimination creating two national semifinals with the winners playing for the title.
In the current system, the BCS uses polls and computer ratings to set a No. 1 vs. No. 2 national title game.
This season it was tough whittling the field down to two. LSU became the first team with two losses to reach the national title game, and there was much debate whether the Tigers and Buckeyes were truly the best teams in the country.
Among those that could've made a legitimate claim to be playing in the Superdome on Monday night was - surprise! - Adams' beloved Bulldogs.
Georgia, which failed to win its division in the SEC, had to settle for a Sugar Bowl berth against Hawaii. The Bulldogs thrashed the overmatched Warriors 41-10, their seventh straight victory.
So now Adams, who takes a hands-on approach to college athletics and acknowledges in his proposal he's long been a playoff opponent, has decided enough is enough. The BCS monster must be stopped.
In his proposal, Adams says his experience with the BCS this season ``forces me to the conclusion that the current system has lost public confidence and simply does not work.''
He just noticed this now? Makes you wonder if Adams could walk over to Georgia's Sanford Stadium today and say, ``My, what beautiful hedges. When did we plant those?''
Last year, Florida's Bernie Machen was the SEC university president touting the need for a playoff. You might remember Machen's Gators almost were left out of last year's national title game.
Machen badmouthed the BCS and said it was time to let the student-athletes decide things on the field. He sounded much like Adams.
Then, when the SEC presidents had their meetings in June, Machen was shot down and, apparently, re-educated on the party line.
``I am now persuaded, that the best way to proceed is to try to work within the BCS structure, to make some changes to make it better,'' Machen said then. ``That seems to me to be a very good way to go.''
The irony of this is, by grandstanding the way he has and deflecting attention away from LSU's championship, Adams will now be ripped by some of the same people who want exactly what he's proposing.
An eight-team playoff incorporating the major bowls is precisely what major college football needs, though using a selection committee to pick the teams, as Adams proposes, is probably not the best way to go.
The plus-one Slive and Swofford like is better than what's out there, but its flaws have already been exposed. If it was in place this season, Ohio State would have played Oklahoma and LSU would have played Virginia Tech in the semifinals. No Georgia. No Southern California.
Adams told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution he believes his proposal has ``at least a 50-50 chance'' of passing in a year or two. In his role as leader of the NCAA executive committee, he is in position to push it in front of those who could make it happen.
Still, his optimism is hard to figure.
The Big Ten and Pac-10 don't even support talking about a plus-one. As for the playoff that so many college football fans have dreamed about, if there is a legion of university presidents out there who agree with Adams, they've been keeping it to themselves.
``Certainly up to now there hasn't been any sentiment from any conference I'm aware of to move to a plus-one, let alone a playoff,'' Slive said.
President Adams, you're about to find out how the rest of us feel.
Ralph D. Russo covers college football for The Associated Press. Write to him at rrusso(at).org.