Two national champs equals one messed-up system

Michigan has a good defense. Nebraska has a good offense. Michigan played a tough schedule.
Nebraska beat the No. 3 team in the country by 25 points in the Orange Bowl.
Summary: All of those words sound like “blah, blah, blah.” That’s how they sounded one second after a split poll produced co-national champions for the third time this decade. That’s how they sound now, exactly 86,000 sports talk radio discussions later.
College football has one too many national champions. And it’s not because the almighty Bowl Alliance didn’t get to work its magic.
It’s not because Nebraska coach Tom Osborne is retiring.
It’s not because Michigan has a good defense.
It’s not because Nebraska has a good offense.
It’s because money is shooting up from the roots of the sport — and a Poulan weed eater certainly isn’t going to stop it.
This is, of course, not a revelation. But the co-national championship — and even the Bowl Alliance — have brought this ugly fact to the forefront.
Bowl games bring important revenue to schools and they generate fan interest. What they cannot do, the way they are currently organized, is ensure a national championship game.
The Bowl Alliance was supposed to ensure a matchup of No. 1 and No. 2. Granted, if the Big Ten would have been in the Alliance this year, there would have been a game between Michigan and Nebraska. But even when the Big Ten joins, the system has several flaws.
ù What happens when there is only one undefeated team going into the bowl season, and then that team loses in the so-called “national championship game?”
ù What happens when there are three or more undefeated teams going into the bowl season, and therefore a likelihood of two or more undefeated teams at the end of the season?
ù What happens when there are no undefeated teams?
The problem with the Alliance is that it still leaves pollsters to decide on a national champion.
The members of the media who voted Michigan as the champ and the coaches who voted Nebraska as champ did all they could in the system in which they work.
Both teams were legitimate No. 1s — again, taken in the context of the current system.
A system that is simply ludicrous.
What other sport determines a champion like this? If college basketball determined its national champion by releasing a poll at the conclusion of conference tournaments, Kansas would have been No. 1 last year.
What Division I college football needs — what it practically begged for this year, in particular — is a playoff system.
The powers that be need to finally wake up and realize that the media and coaches shouldn’t pick a national champ. The only people capable of determining a champion are the players, in this case from Michigan and Nebraska.
Here’s how it should work:
Take the top eight teams in the country based on a formula — much like the Ratings Percentage Index used in basketball — and put them in the playoffs.
Let the other bowl-eligible teams play in the lesser bowls, thus allowing them to keep their revenues. These teams wouldn’t have a chance at a national title under the current system, so they wouldn’t be affected.
Have the top eight teams play according to seeding in a quarterfinal round, semifinal round and championship game, and re-seed after each round.
Play the playoff games as bowl games — the four quarterfinal games would be in mid-to-large size bowls like the Citrus Bowl. The semifinals and title game would rotate between the Orange, Rose, Sugar and Fiesta bowls, with one of those bowls getting a quarterfinal game each.
Maybe Michigan and Nebraska wouldn’t have faced each other in the title game under that scenario, but if they’re as good as everyone says they are, they would have.
And at least everyone could stop talking about who’s the best and actually find out.
— Michael Rand is the sports editor at the Daily. He welcomes comments at [email protected]