Commentary

Three college football myths to stay away from

Updated: November 26, 2007, 11:08 PM ET
By Gene Wojciechowski | ESPN.com

The only people who love college football more than me are Bebes Maisel, Joe Paterno and the Auburn fans who TP'd Toomer's Corner after a sixth consecutive Iron Bowl win against Bama.

And yet, I still have issues with the game. I'm not talking about the dumbest rule in sports (penalizing a team for what an uptight official deems "excessive" celebration after a touchdown), or that Reggie Bush still hasn't come clean about his relationship with sports agents at USC, or that recruiting rankings are really interesting, but should be taken with a shovel-full of salt. I'm talking about misconceptions.

So, because I care, the Three Myths of College Football:

The BCS Works

The BCS works as well as Kim Kardashian in the lead role of "The Eleanor Roosevelt Story." It is the Kim Jong Il of college football: dictatorial and isolationist. BCS cheerleaders figure if they ignore the logic of a playoff system long enough, maybe it will all just go away.

[+] EnlargeChase Daniel
G. Newman Lowrance/Getty ImagesChase Daniel and Missouri are No. 1. But would the Tigers survive a playoff?
The truth is, the BCS is held together by rolls of duct tape and stubbornness. First the well-intentioned Bowl Coalition, then the Bowl Alliance, and now the Bowl Championship Series. And they still can't get it right.

Just last week BCS administrators had to tweak their "system" for about the billionth time. The latest bandage was applied after it became apparent that the BCS might not have enough eligible at-large teams for its five games. Oops. The BCS works so well that the only undefeated team in the country, Hawaii, could finish the regular season 12-0 and still get squeezed out of a BCS bowl game. Meanwhile, two-loss Georgia, which didn't even win its conference division or qualify for its league championship game, could conceivably play in a national title game. Huh?

And the next person who smugly tells me, "We don't need a playoff system because we already have one: the regular season," is going to get a Mike Gundy-a-gram. Look, if the regular season were really a playoff, Ohio State would have been eliminated Nov. 10, when it lost at home to Illinois. West Virginia would have been history when it lost to a South Florida team that later experienced a three-game free fall. Missouri would have been through when it lost decisively at Oklahoma on Oct. 13. LSU would have been done after an OT loss at Kentucky on the same Saturday. Virginia Tech would have been cooked after a Sept. 8 loss at LSU and most definitely after an Oct. 25 loss at home against Boston College. And USC's hopes would have expired the exact minute it lost at home to a Stanford team that couldn't beat Notre Dame.

Instead, the Buckeyes, Mountaineers, Hokies and both Tigers are somehow still on the short list, while unbeaten Hawaii and its absolutely hellacious offense is placed in BCS quarantine. Explain that. And while you're at it, explain why the Hokies, who have the same 10-2 record as Boston College, are five spots ahead of the Eagles in the latest BCS standings. You can't.

Just think if you could take Ohio State, West Virginia, LSU, Mizzou, Hawaii, BC (sorry, Hokies -- BC won on your field), Oklahoma and USC (sorry, Kansas and Georgia -- you've got to win your conference or at least reach your conference championship game to qualify), and then start an eight-team, seven-game playoff. How's this for a first-round schedule:

Warriors vs. Mountaineers, Tigers vs. Tigers, Buckeyes vs. Sooners, and Trojans vs. Eagles.

But no, we're stuck with the BCS and its weekly standings weirdness. For example, Missouri is your No. 1 team in the country. This is like Homer Simpson picking up Eva Mendes at a Chi Omega party.

Nothing against Mizzou and quarterback Chase Daniel, but the Tigers aren't the No. 1 team in the country. They aren't even favored in Vegas to beat No. 9 Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship (Mizzou is a 3-point dog).

Missouri is ranked first because somebody needs to be there, and because there is no clear-cut No. 1. There are lots of No. 2s and 3s, which is yet another reason a playoff would work, as opposed to this BCS mess.

Just in case anybody needs instructions, contact the NCAA and its Division I-FCS, Division II and III football teams. They've had an actual playoff system for decades.

Heisman Trophy voters know what they're doing

There are 925 Heisman voters -- 870 media, 54 living Heisman winners, one collective fan vote. The more voters, the more probability of the dreaded Knucklehead Factor.

[+] EnlargeTim Tebow
Andy Lyons/Getty ImagesFlorida QB Tim Tebow has put up the kind of numbers that should earn him the Heisman Trophy.
These are the voters who don't stay up late on the East Coast to watch Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan. These are the voters who automatically eliminate Florida quarterback Tim Tebow from consideration because he's a -- gasp! -- sophomore. These are the voters who question whether Tebow should even be a finalist, what with the defending national champion Gators only 9-3 and out of the title hunt. These are the voters who confuse NFL potential with college production. These are the voters who sometimes don't even vote (though the online balloting has helped increase the voting activity to about 97 percent).

And that's not the worst of it. Twenty years ago, a Heisman voter once told me he never cast a first-place vote for an African-American player.

The instructions on the Heisman ballot are so simple -- "I hereby designate (name, school) as my first choice to receive the Heisman Memorial Trophy, awarded to the most outstanding college football player in the United States for 2007." It doesn't say, "the most outstanding college football player who doesn't disrupt my sleep patterns," or "the most outstanding college football player who is preferably a junior or senior," or "the most outstanding college football player whose team is undefeated and playing in the BCS Championship Game."

Arkansas running back Darren McFadden has Adrian Peterson-like NFL skills. He'll likely be the first pick in next year's NFL draft. I've seen him play in person and he's other-worldly.

But he's not my first pick on my Heisman ballot. Tebow is.

Tebow has seven more rushing touchdowns than McFadden (22-15) on 110 fewer carries. And anybody who watches Tebow on a regular basis knows those TDs weren't simply QB sneaks. Ten of those 22 touchdowns were 5 yards or longer. And by the way, Tebow is the Gators' leading rusher, which means he took a pounding in the same killer SEC as McFadden. Against Florida State in the regular-season finale, he played part of the second half with a broken right hand.

Tebow has four fewer TD passes (29) than Hawaii's Brennan and Mizzou's Daniel (33), but he also has 178 fewer pass attempts than Daniel and 105 fewer than Brennan. And for those who think Tebow somehow doesn't deserve the trophy because Florida isn't a national title contender, remember this: The Gators lost five starters on offense (including their leading running back and wide receiver) and nine on defense from 2006, and since the BCS began in the 1998 season, no team has won back-to-back BCS championships.

The rest of my ballot? McFadden will occupy the No. 2 spot, with Daniel, Brennan, Oregon quarterback Dennis Dixon or West Virginia quarterback Pat White as my likely No. 3.

Nebraska is an elite coaching job

It used to be. But now-former athletic director Steve Pederson made a critical mistake and imposed his will on a program that needed a facial, not reconstructive cosmetic surgery.

[+] EnlargeBill Callahan
AP Photo/Dave WeaverBill Callahan's tenure has ended. Now, Nebraska has some serious rebuilding to do.
Pederson hired Bill Callahan, who fit like Tabasco sauce on chocolate pudding. Callahan might be a good coach, but he wasn't the right coach for Nebraska.

Now Pederson and Callahan are gone, and so is Nebraska's one longtime advantage: an identity.

Lincoln was once I-Back U. It was Walk-On Heaven. It was a national recruiting pipeline, stretching as far as Jersey, Florida and California.

Now it's a seven-tractor pileup.

Tradition is nice, but elite high school recruits from outside of Nebraska's state lines (and there aren't many of them on an annual basis) don't remember much, if anything, about Mike Rozier. They want to win. They want to be on TV. They want to play for someone who can get them a job in the NFL.

If interim AD Tom Osborne is going to seal the gaping holes in this program, he had better find someone who understands and appreciates Nebraska's past, but more important, someone who understands the realities of its future. Nebraska needs its football identity back.

There are other overrated coaching jobs, beginning with UCLA (everything done on the relative cheap), Arkansas (limited in-state recruiting base, psycho fan expectations), Michigan State (program sounds good on paper, until you realize Michigan and Ohio State are in your conference).

But Nebraska was never in the same paragraph with those type of programs ... until now.

Nebraska football can be fixed. Probably. Not too much is at stake. Only the difference between relevancy and has-been status.

Gene Wojciechowski is the senior national columnist for ESPN.com. You can contact him at gene.wojciechowski@espn3.com. He co-authored Jerome Bettis' autobiography, "The Bus: My Life In and Out of a Helmet," which is available now.

Gene Wojciechowski | email

Columnist / College Football reporter

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