Munoz to vote in new H.I. Poll

Hall of Fame offensive lineman Anthony Munoz has been selected to vote in the Harris Interactive football poll.

It replaces the Associated Press poll in the Bowl Championship Series formula.

Question is: Why Munoz? He doesn't fit. He doesn't belong.

It's not that Munoz isn't qualified. He is.

But he is not a proponent of the BCS. He is not a proponent of this farcical procedure to decide a national champion that college presidents insist on forcing down our throat.

Munoz believes in a playoff. Always has. Probably always will.

As a former college player, as a former NFL player, as the father of a former college player, Munoz believes the only way to determine No. 1 is on the field – not by fielding votes.

``Teams are already playing 14 games,'' Munoz said. ``What would it hurt to play 10, 11 games and have three, four playoff games? Can you imagine the revenues they could have? Can you imagine having playoff games in Knoxville, Nebraska, Oklahoma?

``I just don't understand it. Maybe it's impossible. I don't see it as being impossible. I think it would be great not only for the schools and players but for fans.

``College football is the only sport that has a complete month off before playing a bowl game. To utilize that time (with a playoff) would be excellent.''

Munoz remembers being frustrated while a star at Southern Cal. The Trojans beat Alabama early during the 1978 season. Each team ended up with one loss. Alabama was crowned the national champion.

``We went down to Birmingham and beat Alabama pretty good,'' Munoz recalled of a 24-14 USC victory. ``I thought there shouldn't have been any question who the national champion was.''

That's just one of many examples of why polls shouldn't be used to crown a national champion and why a playoff is the right route.

Munoz said he has often ``cringed'' at the results of the polls and wondered, `Man, if they just had a two- or three-game playoff.''

Munoz, like many of us, is preaching to deaf ears. The decision makers are content with bowl games, with voting on who plays for the national championship, with tweaking the BCS system almost every year, with split titles, with raging debate.

So, in effort to keep status quo, they've made a smart move. They've solicited a knowledgeable man to be part of their poll.

Munoz knows football and he's well versed. He played in the Pac-10, lives in Big Ten country (Cincinnati, Ohio) and has watched the SEC for the past five years.

``A lot of times when I'm asked to do something, I don't feel like I'm qualified,'' Munoz said. ``I feel comfortable and confident I'll be able to uphold my end of the deal.''

Munoz said he anticipates doing quite a bit of homework to have a credible vote.

``Hopefully, I won't be planting myself in front of the TV all weekend, but I'm sure I will be doing a lot more homework and a lot more reading,'' Munoz said. ``I'm looking forward to it. It's a game I still love watching and talking about.''

And what if it came down to picking USC or Tennessee No. 1?

``That's a good question,'' Munoz said, laughing. ``What's the next question?''

* Michael Munoz, an All-SEC lineman at Tennessee who shocked many when he quit football after not being selected in the NFL draft, has been working two jobs and plans to pursue a Masters' degree.

Anthony anticipates his son having withdrawals at times, just as Anthony did when he retired after a 13-year NFL career and 20 years of playing each fall.

``You do something for so long, it becomes a lifestyle,'' Anthony said. ``As much as I did not like moving away from my family (for NFL training camp), I missed it. I missed being around the guys. I missed the competition.

``I've talked to Michael and there's no question he'll miss it.''

* Former Tennessee lineman Trey Teague, who played several years in Denver before becoming the starting center in Buffalo, has enjoyed a prosperous pro career.

Teague was recently labeled Buffalo's most underrated player by an NFL analyst.

Former Vol Jabari Greer agrees.

``Trey is a great lineman,'' said Greer, who made the Bills' roster as a free agent.

``He's the captain of our offensive line. He makes the calls. They respect his calls. When Trey gets down, everybody knows it's business. He's a solid force to be reckoned with. He's a team leader. I have nothing but respect for him.

``He's pretty small for a center but he has the tenacity of a lion. I wouldn't want to run behind anybody else.''

* Greer said playing in the talent-laden SEC helped prepare him for the NFL.

Still, it was an eye-opening experience.

``With my talent level, I had a long way to go,'' said Greer. ``I was 5-11, 170 pounds and I could run. But when some of those bigger guys stood in front of me and said, `I want you to stop me,' I was a bit intimidated.

``I was a free agent, a guy who wasn't supposed to make the team. But once I got in a groove, I said, `Hey, I know I can do it.''


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