Paterno backs college playoff system, calls excuses for absence 'bogus'

Updated: May 23, 2008, 12:51 AM ET
Associated Press

PITTSBURGH -- Penn State football coach Joe Paterno is lobbying again for major college football playoff, calling the reasons against it "bogus" less than three weeks after the Bowl Championship Series decided to maintain its current format for the foreseeable future.

The 81-year-old coach said Thursday he doubts if a playoff system would be enacted soon, particularly after a May 5 meeting of the 11 Football Bowl Subdivision conference commissioners and Notre Dame's athletic director ended with a decision to reject a four-team playoff and begin negotiations with the television networks with the current system in place.

[+] EnlargeJoe Paterno will enter his 43rd season as head coach at Penn State in the fall.
AP Photo/Carolyn KasterJoe Paterno, entering his 43rd season as head coach at Penn State, would like to see college football go to a playoff system.

"I don't think so right now, and I don't know why," said Paterno, who is entering his 43rd season as Penn State's head coach. "I'm only going to be a head coach another 10 or 15 years, and I don't think it will happen by then."

Paterno, whose contract runs through the upcoming season but has not been extended, laughed at his own joke.

Paterno's pro-playoff stance differs from that of the Big Ten, which has long opposed a playoff. At the May 5 meeting, only the Atlantic Coast Conference and Southeastern Conference commissioners favored continued discussion of SEC commissioner Mike Slive's proposal that would have seeded the top four teams in two BCS bowls and had the winners meet a week later for the national championship. The BCS bowls are the Rose, Sugar, Orange and Fiesta.

Those opposing the playoff cited the sanctity of the regular season and the fact the players would be forced to miss too much class time. It could also extend the season into a second semester. Paterno rejected those rationales, noting the highly profitable Division I men's basketball tournament is more disruptive to its players.

"To be frank with you, I don't know what the reasons are not to have a playoff," Paterno said during a speaking appearance in Pittsburgh. "You can talk about missing class and all that kind of stuff, [yet] you see basketball go on forever. You have a lot of bogus excuses, but obviously the majority of people who have the say don't want it."

Paterno also is unhappy with the rules of the coaches' poll, a key element in selecting which teams play in the BCS title game. Coaches are required to vote for the winner of the BCS title game in the final voting, a condition Paterno sees as working against the principle of a voting process.

Paterno has not voted in the coaches' poll since 2004, when he wanted to vote for undefeated Auburn but was forced to vote for Southern California after it won the BCS title game.

"They said, 'Well, you've got to vote or else you can't participate.' So I will not participate in the voting," Paterno said. "Not that I'm against what other people want to do, it's just that philosophically I think you ought to win it on the field. If I have to vote for somebody only because people have said these are the two teams that ought to be in the BCS championship game and I think they left somebody out that probably ought to be in it, that's when I'll feel a playoff ought to be appropriate. I've always been for a playoff."


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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