Bah, humbug!

A growing number of coaches and fans favor a playoff format for major-college football but at least one member of Tennessee's staff remains a holdout – an adamant holdout, at that.

Vol defensive coordinator John Chavis has prior coaching experience at the NCAA Div. II level, where there is a playoff system in place, yet he believes the bowl system that exists in major-college football is vastly superior. First and foremost, the Big Orange aide is convinced that playoffs do nothing to help identify the country's most worthy team. Secondly, he believes 18-, 19-, 20- and 21-year-old athletes need some down time to heal their hurts and rest their bodies at the conclusion of a 12-game regular season. With a month to prepare for their Jan. 1 Outback Bowl meeting against Wisconsin, the Vols basically went two weeks without practicing after their Dec. 1 loss to LSU in the SEC Championship Game. That sort of layoff would not be possible, of course, if they were involved in a 16-team playoff that began in December.

"There's a lot of people out there crying for a playoff system," Chavis said recently. "Where would you be if we had a playoff system? You look at the 1-AA, and none of the top four seeds are playing in the championship game.

"Everybody says if you had a playoff system the best team would win the championship, and that's the farthest thing from the truth."

Chavis, who is wrapping up his 19th season with the UT coaching staff, believes the upsets that rocked the playoffs in the NCAA's Championship Subdivision (formerly Div. 1-AA) this year suggest that a tournament format in football is not about the survival of the fittest but the survival of the luckiest. He says the same would be the case if the Bowl Championship Subdivision (formerly Div. 1-A) were to adopt a playoff format.

"The team with the fewest injuries and the luckiest draw would win," the long-time Vol aide said. "Why would you want to put college students through that type of situation? I know there's a lot of college coaches out there who are for it but they're playing enough games right now."


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