Commentary: BCS system, not a playoff, is best

We have just sent a dangerous man to the White House. Let’s not kid ourselves about it.

Say all the positives you want about the feel-good story of president-elect Barack Obama. The bottom line is this is a man . . . who wants a college football playoff.

Obama said that very thing at halftime of ESPN’s Monday Night Football. And we elected him, anyway.

What were we thinking?

This is the time of year when the “playoff or bust” critics start blasting away at the BCS. We are hearing from the usual critics and some new ones. Maybe Obama is just bandwagon jumping and doesn’t really care.

One can only hope that is the case.

It’s disingenuous for USC coach Pete Carroll to come out in his Monday news conference and say he doesn’t know how the BCS works. Every college football coach knows exactly how it works.

What Carroll doesn’t know is why his team with talent vastly superior to the rest of the Pac-10 finds a way to lose at Oregon State on a Thursday or to 31-point underdog Stanford as it did a year ago or a bad UCLA team before that.

But the real shocker is Penn State coach Joe Paterno making fun of the BCS. This is the man who stands most to benefit from the flawed system (yes, I called it flawed and I always have, but it beats a playoff).

Penn State is the only reason I am thinking (just thinking right now, that’s all) that an eight-team playoff might one day be acceptable.

The problem with the BCS this year is the fear that the best conference which, for a change is the Big 12 instead of the SEC, will not be represented in the national championship game.

If Texas Tech trips up today against Oklahoma State or two weeks down the road at Oklahoma, then everybody has a loss. And if Alabama and Penn State remain undefeated, it’s most likely those two teams would be selected by the combination of voters and computers employed by the BCS.

First, I don’t think that’s necessarily going to be the scenario that plays out. Penn State or Alabama or both could have losses on their records by late this afternoon after visiting Iowa and LSU, respectively.

And Texas Tech is really good and not guaranteed of losing anywhere, even though a victory in Norman would be an upset.

The overriding point playoff supporters miss is that a playoff changes everything. There’s nothing neat and tidy about an eight-team playoff.

If you take the six big conference winners and use some sort of formula or committee similar to the NCAA basketball tournaments to select the two at-large spots, how does that work? Does the team perceived to be the best of the non-BCS schools automatically get a selection?

If so, that leaves only one at-large berth to a runner-up. If Texas, Texas Tech and Oklahoma all finished the season with one defeat, how would that choice be made?

College football is different from every other sport in that it doesn’t always provide a bow on a neatly tied package at the end of the year.

I will gladly sacrifice that in order to maintain the integrity of autumn Saturday afternoons and nights. Those are nothing less than the best days in sport.

So if Obama doesn’t mind fixing the economy before he gets around to “fixing” college football, that will be fine with me.