VU Chancellor staunchly opposed to grid playoff

SEC champion Auburn finished the season 13-0, but is cut out of the BCS Championship picture. Likewise Utah, which finished 12-0. Despite the outcry for a college football playoff, a majority of college presidents (including <B>Vanderbilt Chancellor Gordon Gee</b>) remain opposed.

The SEC champion Auburn Tigers capped off a perfect season Monday with a 16-13 win over Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl. But despite being a member of one of college football's elite conferences (the SEC), and finishing the season 13-0, Tommy Tuberville's Tigers are cut out of the BCS Championship picture.

Likewise Utah, which looked like a legitimate powerhouse in defeating Pittsburgh in the Fiesta Bowl, will have no chance to play for a national championship despite a 12-0 record.

The BCS Championship will go to the winner of Tuesday's Orange Bowl between USC and Oklahoma. Voters in the Associated Press could make Auburn or (less likely) Utah No. 1 in their post-season poll, but those voters most likely will follow the party line and support the Orange Bowl winner.

For the second year in a row, the BCS is embroiled in controvery, and the system in place will fail to produce a true national champion. All of which should serve to hasten the arrival of a college football playoff... right?

Wrong. The current bowl system remains too entrenched, too lucrative; not to mention the fact that a majority of presidents of colleges and major football-playing universities remain cold to the idea.

In Sunday's edition of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 10 out of 13 college presidents who took time to share their thoughts were opposed to the idea of a playoff. A multiple-team tournament may be just fine for college basketball, they said, but the current bowl system for football works just fine.

Among those prominently quoted on the subject was Vanderbilt Chancellor Gordon Gee, who restructured Vanderbilt's athletics department in 2003 in an effort take a stand against the prevailing "jock culture." Gee turns a deaf ear to sportswriters and fans who criticize the NCAA because it has failed the last two years to produce a true national champion.

"We are drawing a line in the sand [against a playoff]," Gee told the Journal-Constitution. "If you asked me to vote on the NCAA championships in basketball I would vote against them because we have seen the corrosive effect they have had on the academic environment at the university.

"And those who run universities understand that. Those who write newspaper columns in sports sections believe that it's just about winning or losing or having a national champion. I don't care."

Gee, one of the most outspoken critics of a playoff system, readily acknownledges that the BCS-- which attempts to pair the two most highly-ranked teams in a true national championship game-- is fraught with flaws. His solution? Revert to the bowl system of pre-BCS days.

"I would cheerfully do away with the BCS and move back to the old bowl system," said Gee, who formerly served as president at Ohio State and Colorado. "That bowl system at least rewarded our students for doing good work throughout the fall season. We ended up having a wonderful time.

"That system, which is a reward for the students, worked out very well. The minute you move away from it being a reward system to it having to name a national champion, then it diminishes what we are trying to do academically."

Count Ohio State president Karen Holbrook among other college officials who feel moving to a playoff would be a step in the wrong direction.

"The system is working reasonably well," Holbrook told the Journal-Constitution. "It has been very successful. There is a lot of attention on college football, and people are excited about the bowls. It's done something good in that way. As a result, people care about the BCS, and they pay attention to the other bowls, as well.

"We prefer it to a playoff. I would not see any way to support a playoff. It's a long, rough, physical abuse to the [football players]. When it's over, it's over, instead of dragging it out after the end of the year."

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What do you think? Should college football move toward an eight-team or 16-team playoff? Is the current system working just fine? Share your views on our VandyMania football message board.


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