Looking at college football

Unlike every other major team sport, Division I college football has failed to produce any kind of playoff to determine who wins its championship. Instead, the heads of the six major conferences have schemed together to create the highly controversial Bowl Championship Series Poll.

The BCS poll ranks universities according to a mathematical formula that combines one-third the USA Today Coaches' Poll, one-third the Harris Interactive Poll, and one-third the average of six computer ratings from across the nation. The teams calculated to be first and second at the end of the season play for the title.

The Harris Interactive Poll this year replaces the Associated Press, which was a part of the BCS since its 1998 beginning, but asked to be excluded.

The 114-member Harris Poll is an assembly of former coaches, players and administrators, plus 20 of the media. The Nevada Appeal is honored to claim Darrell Moody as one of its voters.

Strangely absent from the BCS this year is the ESPN network. ESPN pulled itself out of the USA Today Coaches' Poll, and isn't allowing any of its commentators to participate in the Harris Poll. It's all the better for ESPN and the AP to bash the BCS, since they are now not involved in the balloting.

The most glaring problem with the BCS is its use of computers in the formula. Conducting polls usually gets consensus No. 1 and No. 2 teams that are agreeable with the public, but throw in six suspicious computer programs and anything can happen.

Just who the heck are Richard Billingsley, Kenneth Massey, Pete Wolfe, Jeff Sagarin, Colley Matrix and Anderson & Hester? Why are their computer programs supposedly helping us decide a national champion? What makes them smarter than us?

Most pollsters and people in general have USC No. 1 and put Texas No. 2. Yet five of the six computers rank Texas No. 1, and according to two of them, USC is no. 3. All computers can do when put in this kind of situation is make things worse by going against the public, which upsets players, coaches and true college football fans alike. We shouldn't be using them.

Last year, as usual, the multi-flawed BCS system ended in complete catastrophe as three BCS conference teams finished undefeated and only two were allowed to play for the championship. Had there been only one undefeated school, the controversy would have been over which one-loss team would be invited. In fact, the only time the current BCS can possibly work is if exactly two teams finish undefeated, the same scenario as if just using the polls. That makes the BCS totally unnecessary.

Hopefully only two teams do finish the season without a loss to quiet rumblings of conspiracies and accusations of wrongdoing for at least one year. A playoff, of course, would have immediately ended most all of the complaints.

• The best teams against the spread so far this season are Texas (7-1-1), Notre Dame (7-1), Stanford (5-1-1) and South Florida (5-1).

The teams to bet against have been Duke (1-8), Purdue (1-7-1), Tulane (1-6), Rice (1-6-1) and Utah (1-6-2). Duke, Purdue and Utah covered for the first time last Saturday, while Rice covered two weeks ago. After having its New Orleans campus damaged by Hurricane Katrina, the Tulane football team has gamely persevered by relocating at Louisiana Tech, but it has struggled to adjust. Tulane plays at Rice tomorrow in an awful spread match-up.

The hottest team in the country spread-wise right now is Penn State with six consecutive covers. Notre Dame and Stanford are at five. Ohio State and Iowa State have four.

The best teams to bet against lately have been New Mexico State, Syracuse, and Tulane, all failing to cover five in a row. California, Indiana, Wyoming, Bowling Green and Arkansas State have lost versus the spread in four successive tries.

National Champion - Texas.


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