College football is missing a winner during these lost Saturday afternoons

PRESS ROW

December 24, 1992|By PHIL JACKMAN

Bowl Blather:

I don't know about you, but I think an absolutely stop-'em-in-their-tracks argument for a national championship playoff arrangement in college football is staring us dead in the face.

It's called Saturday afternoons, as in those dreary dead spots of the last couple of weekends that are annually surrendered to those all-look-alike frolics known as college hoops.

If it wasn't for the unexpectedly thrilling Army-Navy contest and the inaugural Southeastern Conference title game way back on Dec. 5, it would have been nearly a month since "the color and pageantry of college football" held sway.

That's much too long, especially when it comes time to recharge the batteries for some important and interesting games. And all amidst the fun, frivolity and distractions of wall-to-wall holidaying.

This was brought home to me starkly last night while attempting to remember if Washington fell apart this season at the end, or was that Washington State?

Did Southern Cal field a team this year or what? I don't recall reading or hearing a word about the Trojans (thank heaven). And where is it that the service academy team goes if it has a good season -- the Freedom Bowl, the Liberty Bowl or the

Independence Bowl?

It borders on ridiculous to expect even a hopelessly-hooked fan to maintain interest from late August, when N.C. State whipped Iowa in the Kickoff Classic, to New Year's Day. Toss a month-long pause in there as an additional obstacle and it moves up to impossible.

So, NCAA, climb down off your piles of money occasioned by your basketball tournament and dope out a format, not only to determine a champion on the field but to get those Saturdays back and maintain some continuity in the game.

Chances are you would end up with another pile of money to sit on and not abdicate your responsibility to a bunch of sharpies from bowl committees parading around in garish blazers.

* As expected, no sooner did the results of the first year of the multi-confusing bowl coalition become known when detractors had eggs, fruit and vegetables ready for the throwing.

It's simply laughable that with its first spin the coalition ends up with No. 1 Miami meeting No. 2 Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, and some squeal about the Nos. 3 and 4 teams not being matched up somewhere.

Come on, what would matching 3-4, 5-6, 7-8, etc. prove? Who's 3.5?

It has been argued that No. 3 Florida State should have been offered the opportunity to give up the Orange Bowl and a $4.2 million payoff to play No. 4 Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl for $3 million.

If the Seminoles had gotten the bid and accepted, we all would have had reason to doubt the veracity of degrees in math, finance and logic issued by the university.

In addition, it would have been a repeat of last year's Cotton Bowl matchup, almost an assured way of turning off many of your faithful ticket purchasers.

As it stands, the pride of the ACC (only kidding) is stuck in a position wherein no matter who it beats, it can only move up to No. 2, ahead of the loser in New Orleans. So why not stay at home, in a manner of speaking, collect more money and run Nebraska ragged?

It's not a bad deal for A&M either, considering the Dallas folks went out and got Notre Dame. When's the last time anyone went wrong with regard to money, television ratings and exposure lining up against the Irish? Besides, they're No. 5.

Here are the matchups according to the final AP Poll rankings: 1-vs.-2, 3-11, 4-5, 6-10, 7-9, 8-15, 12-14, 13-21, 16-17, 19-24. Nos. 18, 20, 22, 23 and 25 are meeting unranked opponents.

In the main games -- the eight to be contested on Jan. 1 -- the point spread averages out to about four per game. That smacks of good competition if the line is accurate, and that's supposed to be the point.

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