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ISSUE 119 VOL 10 PUBLISHED 12/2/2005

Inside the Lines: Gridiron gridlock

By Matt Tiano
Sports Editor

Friday, December 2, 2005

Bowl Selection Day is set for Dec. 7, and as this college football season culminates, I can’'t help but ponder the revisions that must be made to the college game. Ever since the introduction of the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) in 1998, college football simply has not lived up to its potential.

The BCS, however, is only part of the equation. Issue number one: the Heisman Trophy. A few simple changes are in order; here'’s what I propose.

Currently, a candidate relies on his own institution'’s Heisman “advertising” campaign to bolster his chances of winning. These schools are able to pay millions to push their star’s' credentials on billboards, television and in print. As a result, those players are consistently noticed, not only by the general public, but by the media, which is the driving force behind the voting for this prestigious award.

Even though these players belong to the best teams in the game, this shouild not be the indicator of the best player in the game. Top-ranked USC’s Matt Leinart and second-ranked Texas' Vince Young, the two frontrunner quarterbacks for the award, are prime examples of this.

Looking at Leinart’'s numbers, he has passed for 3,217 yards on 233-of-351 and thrown for 24 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Young, conversely, has thrown for 2,414 yards on 155 completions in 244 tries. Not bad numbers by any means. However, upon closer inspection, it becomes apparent that other deserving candidates are blatantly ignored. A prime example is UCLA quarterback Drew Olson.

Olson has completed 240-of-354 passes for 2,290 yards. The Bruin quarterback has connected for 30 touchdowns and thrown only three interceptions. Olson has a 172.47 quarterback rating, which tops that of Leinart and Young. Neither can come close to competing with the performance Olson had in a win against Arizona State, where he completed 22-of-27 passes for 510 yards and five touchdown passes. He is a cinch to throw for over 3,000 yards, an incredible feat.

Herein lies the ultimate problem: Olson is on his way to one of the best single seasons in PAC-10 history  and he'’s not even being considered for the Heisman!

The BCS, on the other hand, needs to be eliminated in its entirety. College football’'s postseason needs to be developed along the lines of college basketball, a task not as daunting as it seems. At the conclusion of conference championship games, a selection committee should select the top 14 teams.

This selection should be based upon the same type of criteria the BCS formula uses. The top two selections receive first-round byes, and the last two teams standing in this “bracket” would play for the national championship on New Year’s Day. This system would allow for what makes the NCAA basketball tournament so special – the elusive upset.

With this proposed system, there is an outright winner, and no easily preventable controversies would arise (such as the split national championship in 2003 between USC and LSU). This situation also rewards the top 14 teams and their fans with more games (a constant gripe in college football) and the television networks come out ahead as well – they are able to bring in additional revenue.

Changes to the college game are not only possible, but necessary to ensure its successful future. It is entirely possible that this year, we will have a non-deserving Heisman Trophy winner. More importantly, the current system of the BCS is guaranteed to provoke controversy, subtracting from the passion and excitement of college football as an institution.

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