Playoff idea gains a vocal supporter

By Brian Landman
Published January 9, 2008

NEW ORLEANS - As he sat surrounded by four trophies, gleaming symbols of the consensus national championship his team had won hours earlier, LSU coach Les Miles also sat in the center of a growing storm.

The very system that allowed his Tigers to meet Ohio State in the Bowl Championship Series finale, one he commended, came under fierce attack from Georgia president Michael Adams.

Adams, chairman of the NCAA executive committee, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitutionhe wants the NCAA to take control of the postseason and replace the BCS with an eight-team playoff. He said the BCS "has lost public confidence and simply does not work. It is undercutting the sportsmanship and integrity of the game."

Adams, who reiterated that stance in a letter to NCAA president Myles Brand, has been against a playoff; he, like virtually all the other SEC presidents, opposed a plan that Florida president Bernie Machen floated during the league meetings in Destin last spring.

While ACC commissioner John Swofford, the new coordinator of the BCS for the remaining two years of the current contract, said a playoff is a "nonstarter," the so-called Plus-One model, which involves an extra game matching the winner of two of the BCS games, will be fully debated when the BCS leaders meet in April in Miami.

Had such a system been in place this season, the four teams based on the BCS rankings would have been Ohio State, LSU, Virginia Tech and Oklahoma. Georgia was No. 5 and would have been left out.

To some, whether or not an eight-team playoff, which Adams suggested would begin after the four major bowl games were played and run the next two weekends, would be more fair or more lucrative or more exciting wasn't the issue on Tuesday. Timing was.

"This is LSU's day," said SEC commissioner Mike Slive, the outgoing BCS coordinator.

Tuesday was a day to celebrate the 38-24 win and all that went with it, hardware from the Associated Press, the Football Writers Association of America, the National Football Foundation and the BCS.

"I'm happy for my team, I'm happy for the school. It's nice that there's no indecision," Miles said. "There's one national champion."

NUMBERS GAME: The Buckeyes are 0-9 against SEC teams in bowls, including in each of the last two BCS finales. Florida beat Ohio State 41-14 last year for the title. Some folks have dubbed the Buckeyes as the Buffalo Bills, even though they won the 2003 BCS title game.

"I worry about disappointment because I know how hard these kids work," OSU coach Jim Tressel said. "I don't worry too much about criticism because if you're not tough enough to handle criticism, then you better get out of this game."

NICE SENDOFF: LSU defensive coordinator Bo Pelini, who is taking over as the head coach at Nebraska, got a celebratory dousing from his players near the end of Monday's game. A day later, he was showered with more praise.

"He's really given a lot to our football program and we're certainly going to miss him," Miles said. "He'll be a great coach at Nebraska and the only thing I can tell him is we look forward to facing him in a game just like this years from now."

RATINGS DOWN: The Tigers' win earned a 14.4 rating and a 22 share, down 17 percent from the 17.4/27 for Florida's win over Ohio State last year. It was the third-lowest rating in 10 years of BCS title games. Southern Cal-Oklahoma had a 13.7 in 2005; Miami-Nebraska had a 13.8 in 2002.

Information from Times wires was used in this report. Brian Landman can be reached at landman@sptimes.com or 813 226-3347.