Playoff, TKs not OK

The story raced around the college football world Saturday - a college president says "it's not a question of if there's going to be a playoff, it's a question of when"! It sounded exciting, until people learned the president in question was FSU's T.K. Wetherell.

As the old Saturday Night Live skit with the perpetually confused Emily Litella delivering an editorial on a topic she had misheard used to end - "Never mind." If there's anyone less likely to have his finger on the pulse of his fellow presidents than Wetherell, it's hard to imagine who it might be. Despite Wetherell getting people stirred up again, a playoff is not a bit closer to happening in college football anytime in the next generation.

Wetherell made his comments at a forum dealing with college football issues, held in Dallas and hosted by the Football Writers Association of America and the National Football Foundation. He was the only senior official of any university to appear at the event. That's no accident - most presidents have different priorities than spending two days discussing football. FSU has had to deal with the image of Wetherell as being their number one booster and de facto athletics director rather than an actual president from the second he stepped into the office. Wetherell acknowledged it at the forum, saying "I'm a college president that hasn't written a book. I didn't come up through the academic ranks, I came up through the political ranks and athletic ranks." Couple that background with the recent FSU academic embarrassments, and this is not a man likely to sway the Gordon Gees of the world anytime soon.

Gee, Ohio State's president, has remarked this year that he'd just as soon do away with the BCS and simply return to the old bowl system with the Big Ten champ always going to the Rose Bowl. He's vehemently opposed to any kind of playoff or expansion of the current system. Gee's credentials as an academic are impeccable, with stints as president at the Ivy League's Brown as well as four BCS schools. Meanwhile, Wetherell threw out this little gem to Buckeyes coach Jim Tressel, who was also a participant in the forum. "I don't know, Coach Tressel, but I'm sure when Ohio State started looking, no offense, they might have been looking over at some other place, Bobby Bowden." Surrrrrrre, T.K. Bobby was at the top of the Buckeyes list to fill John Cooper's shoes. You bet. Does anyone think Wetherell's going to influence Gee's thinking on any subject at all?

Wetherell's primary argument at the forum was that eventually schools will have to make the move as a cash grab, much like when they chose to expand the schedule to twelve games and booked junk games against 1-AA teams to fill the added dates. Could that happen? Sure, but nothing indicates any progress toward it while any of the current decision makers are still around. Wetherell himself acknowledges that the only other school in the ACC genuinely interested in moving toward a playoff is Boston College. When only one school in Wetherell's own conference backs the idea he's putting out as inevitable, it's safe to say his prediction on college football's future playoff system is about as meaningful as the ones appearing in supermarket tabloids.


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