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 President-elect Barack Obama wants a big-time college football playoff, and the latest BCS mess involving Texas and Oklahoma is yet another example of why it's needed. But there's a right way and a wrong way to do it.
Speaking of changes, Notre Dame has a decision to make. Auburn, too. Tennessee has made its choice.
The penultimate weekend of college football's regular season set the table for championship week and brought us an early BCS controversy.
The Big Story
The BCS as we know it likely will be determining major college football's national champion until January 2014.
And when it does change, eventually, the powers that be will install the so-called plus-one model, which would create a four-team playoff.
But when the incoming president says - twice - that he'd like to see an eight-team playoff decide a national champion, it gets people talking. Not the people with the power to make it happen, but still ...
ng No. 8, etc, etc.
The announcer swooned about what great matchups college football would have in that format - which is true.
But that's NOT the way to have an eight-team major college football playoff.
The guardians of the Bowl Championship Series repeatedly cite the need to protect the importance of the greatest regular season in major American sports, when they're defending the BCS and shooting down playoff talk.
On that point, they are correct.
A playoff that simply scoops up the top eight teams in the nation according to computer rankings, polls or both - with no regard for conference affiliation - would do exactly what supporters of the BCS warn against: make the regular season less important.
With that type of playoff system, next week's No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 2 Florida matchup in the Southeastern Conference title game would be essentially meaningless in the national title race. The Tide and Gators would be playing for seeding.
Much of the drama of the last three or four weeks of the season, including championship Saturday, would dry up if computers or polls or both, the way it is now, selected the field for an eight-team playoff.
The better way to do it, to keep the emphasis on a riveting regular season, would be to hand out automatic bids to the winners of the six major conferences.
n the rankings or ratings, regardless of conference. The five non-BCS conferences would be none to happy about that. So it would be wise to include a similar provision to what the BCS has now, saving one spot for a team from the leagues without automatic bids if one reaches a certain mark in the standings.
With that format this season, the loser of the SEC title game would be battling two Big 12 South powers for the final spot in the playoffs.
Yes, that would cause controversy, but some controversy is a good thing - keeps people talking.
This season, some very good teams would be left out for so-so Big East and Atlantic Coast Conference champs. But the thing you hear from every coach and fan when they rail against the BCS is that college football needs to let the teams decide championships on the field.
That eight-team playoff format does that. The other does not.
So have somebody work on that Mr. President.
Staying or going
After the latest embarrassment for Notre Dame - a 38-3 loss to Southern California - Notre Dame has every reason to fire coach Charlie Weis.
The hunch here is the Fighting Irish pick stability over the unknown. Remember, high-profile coaches with sterling resumes weren't knocking down Notre Dame's door the last time the job was open.
Staying or going II
ers 10 very good seasons.
If Tuberville is pushed out, it's a pure panic move by a school terrified of Alabama coach Nick Saban.
Welcome
Lane Kiffin might very well be the next great coach in college football, a combination of Bear Bryant and Pete Carroll.
But what exactly has the next Tennessee coach done, short of tick off Al Davis and lose a bunch of games with the Raiders, to warrant being such a hot commodity?
Kiffin's reputation far outweighs his resume.
Heisman-worthy
North Carolina State redshirt freshman Russell Wilson passed for 220 yards, ran for 58 more and accounted for three touchdowns in the Wolfpack's 38-28 victory against Miami. N.C. State is bowl eligible and has a bright future with Wilson and coach Tom O'Brien.
Lookahead
No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 2 Florida on Saturday for the Southeastern Conference championship and a spot in the national title game. Enough said.
Oklahoma won the BCS lottery and earned a ticket to the Big 12 title game to play Missouri. Texas is already calling this the Big 12 runner-up game, because the Longhorns beat both participants.
Texas has a good argument, but the fact is the Longhorns' only shot to reach the title game is a Missouri upset.
Even then, Southern California, which finishes up Saturday with UCLA, might be more appealing to poll voters than the conference title-less Longhorns.
But the Sooners can make college football's selection Sunday anticlimactic by beating Mizzou and earning a trip to the national title game.
---
Ralph D. Russo covers college football for The Associated Press. Write to him at rrusso(at)ap.org.

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