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Thursday, November 7, 2002
Updated: November 11, 3:27 PM ET
Don't panic, bowl system's just fine

By Jason Whitlock
Page 2 columnist

It's that time of the year again. Time for sports pundits across the globe to pretend that the lack of an NCAA Division I football playoff system has put America on the brink of nuclear holocaust.

Willis McGahee
Willis McGahee and the Hurricanes lost ground nationally because they didn't destroy Rutgers.
This is my least favorite time of the year. It ranks right up there with early April, when George Will and the gang act like the smell of leather, simmering grass, the crack of a bat and a box score to peruse means all is right in the world.

Repeat after me: "Baseball isn't America's pastime. And, more importantly, there ain't a damn thing wrong with college football."

For the next two months, my peers and friends will lie to you. You will be told that Miami or Ohio State or Oklahoma or Georgia or Bowling Green or Notre Dame or Texas or college football fans got hosed by the BCS. Conversation about games will sound like an episode of HBO's "Oz" narrated by Adebesi.

You will be convinced that one, two or even three teams suffered irrevocable damage from being left out of the national championship contest. You will be made to feel as though a large group of 18- to 22-year-old men were stripped of their innocence and exploited by the NCAA.

How will these young boys ever recover? After enduring the indignity of premature, postseason elimination, how will they fight their urge to run off and join the Taliban?

  First and foremost, deciding college football's No. 1 team just isn't that important. No matter what is said or written over the next two months, no one will be able to articulate a significant negative consequence from the lack of a postseason playoff. 
  
You get my point?

First and foremost, deciding college football's No. 1 team just isn't that important. No matter what is said or written over the next two months, no one will be able to articulate a significant negative consequence from the lack of a postseason playoff. Texas players, for instance, won't fall into depression because they didn't get to compete in the title game.

But more important than that, anything that devalues college football's regular season isn't good for college football, which has the most compelling regular season of any of the major sports. Seriously, college basketball's regular season is a complete snooze in comparison to football's. College basketball doesn't matter until March.

In the fall every week, there's a playoff atmosphere on college campuses. No matter the opponent, every game is meaningful. Hell, every snap is meaningful. Take Miami. A mediocre performance against Rutgers cost the Hurricanes a spot in The Associated Press poll and therefore a spot in the BCS rankings. In college football, you can't wait until the fourth quarter to bring your "A" game.

You can lose the national championship on any given Saturday and on any given play.

Why give that up just to make a group of dumbass sportswriters happy?

Oh, that's right, my peers will tell you that's what the kids want. The kids want a playoff system. The kids wouldn't mind adding one or two weeks onto the schedule so they could decide the "real" national champion on the field. They would sacrifice their Christmas break or a week of classes to play in one more big game, the biggest game of their life.

P.J. Pope (33), Bowling Green players
Bowling Green players don't seem to be suffering despite the apparent snubs of pollsters.
And this is why kids should be seen but not heard. Here's some old news for you. Kids rarely want what's best for them. Kids are generally stupid and immature. I know I was. If we gave the kids what they wanted, the NCAA would stock the sidelines with kegs of beer and Snoop Dogg would shoot a "CollegeGirlsGoneWild" video for halftime entertainment. We used to "sacrifice" a week of classes for three hours of sleep and a front-row seat at a wet T-shirt contest at Papa Lou's Chug.

This is silly. I'm so tired of hearing hypocritical sports pundits mouthing off about what the kids want. The discussion needs to center on what the kids need. They need fewer games, more emphasis placed on conference championships and more time to be regular students. But you won't hear that from my self-serving colleagues. We're against anything that de-emphasizes the games and makes us less important.

We need a college football Super Bowl to cover. We need a few more easy storylines about how coach So-n-So can't win it all, which reminds me of my third-least favorite time of the year, early March, when pundits question Roy Williams' legacy ... because he hasn't won a national title. Stay tuned for that column come March. Roy is the best coach in college basketball whose last name doesn't start with a K.

Oh, and did I mention my other favorite sportswriting staple? You know, the one about the social and economic catastrophes sure to befall us because 8-year-olds can't stay up late enough to watch the end of World Series games ...

Jason Whitlock is a regular columnist for the Kansas City Star (kcstar.com), the host of a morning-drive talk show, "Jason Whitlock's Neighborhood" on Sports Radio 810 WHB (810whb.com) and a regular contributor on ESPN The Magazine's Sunday morning edition of The Sports Reporters. He can be reached at ballstate0@aol.com.