By Jason Keidel
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Learning the mutating totem pole of college football rankings requires either a degree in astrophysics or the patience of a crocodile.

Most of us have neither.

Sunday night we learned that Oklahoma is the top team in the land. Sunday afternoon it was Oregon. (Or was it Boise State?) The day before it was Ohio State. A week before that it was Alabama.

The BCS has final word, but it doesn’t speak. It’s an amalgam of math that would make John Nash dizzy. Leave it to bureaucrats to solve a problem by making it worse.

Schools say they can’t play a playoff because it thwarts the schedule of the student, blunts the inner academic. They want a 3.5 average from the 250-pounder who runs a 4.5. Stop it. Just stop it.

You’re worried about the pristine status of the student-athlete – the greatest misnomer of all, at least in football. You worry about the wide receiver’s midterm paper, which presupposes that he wrote it. You want to preserve amateur athletics when it’s nearly extinct. And where was your indignity in 1992 when Barkley and Jordan space-jammed their way to 60-point wins over Angola?

For every Myron Rolle (a Rhodes Scholar from Florida State) there are bushels of Reggie Bushes using the classroom as a chalkboard funnel for the sneaker deal. We all know it. Books are to be burned before reading.

University brass only cares about the cash cow of the bowl system. No, not all schools make money from bowl games, but the BCS ones pay eight-figures. They shun the playoff fun under the guise of guarding their kids. It’s all about the kids. GPA, not BCS, baby.

“In the current system, every game is a playoff!” you scream. Then why do the schools make their own schedules? Notre Dame played Western Michigan last Saturday. I have no idea why. Do you? Did Western Michigan provide the gritty gridiron test for a team that pretends to contend for major bowl games? We could ask Ohio State the same question after they played Eastern Michigan.

Stop the crap and slap the system with a playoff. It works for every other sport. In fact, a tournament is the only thing that makes college basketball tolerable. The St. John’s – South Florida clash in January only matters to the alumni of the schools. (I didn’t even know South Florida existed before they joined the Big East.) But when March Madness starts you’re wrapped in spreadsheets, bracket-busters, office pools – for entertainment purposes only, of course – and dreams of being king of the cubicles.

Eight teams would suffice. Sure, the ninth-ranked team will gripe with the same fervor that the third-ranked team does now. But chances are that the No. 9 team has one or more losses and will preach from a crumbling platform. No one will listen.

Strip the façade of the student-athlete whom, we officially learned, is paid to play. Sports Illustrated broke the story of Josh Luchs, an agent who asserts he supported dozens of college football players and their families as a way to obtain them as clients. The story, though important, is a formality. Anyone with a computer and a pulse had a pretty good idea that college players become pros long before the draft.

There’s about a five-week gap between each team’s final game and their bowl. Remove the conference championship games (which only hurt the few teams forced to play in them) and start the playoff the first week in December.

“Rooting for the laundry” is an old mantra meaning you only care about the jersey, not the guy wearing it. BCS conferences root for laundry too, the money they rinse from Tostitos, FedEx, Allstate…

Is your team in good hands?

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