In our current age of intense political partisanship, it’s rare that an elected official could propose sweeping changes to a long established system and find a landslide of public support for the measure. Yet that’s exactly what we find in President-elect Barack Obama’s wildly popular stance that the NCAA Football Champion ought to be decided in a playoff format. While his suggestion that a three-round, eight team tournament would still require a degree of politics in choosing the participating teams, at least one would be assured that the top four seeds, at the very least, would be universally accepted as deserving of inclusion in the contest.
“Don’t let it go to the judges” is a popular refrain in the boxing world, and those words have gotten a fair bit of mileage here in the Heritage Auction Galleries home state of Texas, where thousands of Longhorn fans wonder aloud how a team they had vanquished on neutral ground (Dallas’ Cotton Bowl) found themselves a participant in the National Championship game despite an identical record, divisional and otherwise. With a sole loss to Texas Tech delivered in a shocking, last seconds format, the Austin faithful missed out on a return to the Big Game by the slimmest margin conceivable. And now, after having been forced into the gruesome task of rooting for a Sooners victory over Texas Tech to even the score in the loss column of the Big 12, ‘horns fans find that the bitter taste in the mouth was all for nothing.
While it could be argued that smack talk and griping is a big part of the fun of the Red River rivalry, Longhorns fans aren’t the only ones who come out on the short end in the current scenario. Should the Sooners defeat the Florida Gators to claim the National Championship, these matters still will not have been laid to rest. Super Bowl Champions are unequivocal, as are NCAA Basketball Champs. One will find few true sports fans who believe that college football does not deserve the same certitude.