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College football fans dissed again

To most college football fans, the need for a playoff system is so obvious it's almost embarrassing, like when you see some old guy with a really awful comb-over and wonder why everybody realizes it except him.

In this case, the old guys with the bad do's - figuratively speaking, of course - are the college presidents and conference commissioners.

While the ticket-buying, ESPN-watching public clamors for a playoff, out-of-touch executives cling to the grossly misnamed Bowl Championship Series like strands of hair to a shiny scalp - despite the fact that the BCS, as a method for crowning a champion, has proved to be less effective than the Hair Club for Men.

So why the obstinacy? BCS conference decision-makers say it's because they're concerned about "student-athletes" - a term they coined many years ago to suggest that players in big-time football programs are actually there to go to school.

Sure they are, just like the guys on frat row pledged for the service projects. Drinking and debauchery had nothing to do with it.

I've also heard BCS apologists argue that under the current system, "every game is a playoff game." If that were true, LSU would have been eliminated twice last season. Instead, they won a national championship.

And finally there's the "tradition" argument, as the old-timers wax nostalgic over epic bowl matchups from years gone by. You know, back in college football's glory days, when two or three different polls chose two or three different national champions.

This much is certain: if the execs thought a playoff system would bring in more money, we'd have a playoff system. Why they don't think so is anybody's guess, but I suspect it has something to do with that old adage about a bird in the hand.

To the rest of us, it seems almost absurdly self-evident that a playoff system would represent a lot more than two in the bush. Try two or three billion, in television contracts alone.

Look at all the TV revenue the NCAA basketball tournament generates. Why? Because fans want to see who wins - on the court, not in some computer nerd's fevered brain.

Football is even more wildly popular than basketball. Once people got used to the idea and stopped looking for the ghost of Red Grange under the Rose Bowl bleachers, a college football playoff would surely represent a license to print money.

Remember, we're just talking about a few extra games for a handful of teams. There are any number of proposals, but the one that makes the most sense is the University of Georgia president Michael Adams' idea for an eight-team tournament: three games to determine a true champion, or exactly two more than bowl-bound teams play.

I hardly think, for most players, two extra games would mean the difference between winning a Rhodes Scholarship and going through life as a fry cook.

Rob Jenkins is associate professor of English at Georgia Perimeter College. E-mail him at rjenkinsgdp@yahoo.com.