Now that Miami won't have an opportunity to play for the national championship at the Orange Bowl on Jan. 3 -- since Oklahoma and Florida State finished one-two in the BCS -- expect the debate over a playoff system versus the BCS formula to strengthen considerably.
I've always been a supporter of a playoff format, but as I've explained over the last few weeks in my commentary and analysis here on ESPN.com, coming to an agreement on how many teams would comprise a playoff scenario will be no easy task.
|QB Chris Weinke and Florida State will face Oklahoma for the national championship.|
I am strongly in favor of a 16-team playoff system, allowing unbeatens from previous years such as Tulane and Marshall to have the opportunity to prove their mettle on the field. Often, programs such as these, because of questionable opposition or the perception of a certain conference that year, find themselves out of the equation when it comes to the top 10. So having a playoff system with just four or eight teams would eliminate those teams from the process.
In addition, you have to factor in how difficult it is for programs that begin the year out of the top 25 to change the preseason perception. I study the teams and players in college football every day and can tell you firsthand that graduation losses or returning starters don't always accurately indicate how a team will perform.
Supporters of the BCS formula point out how critical each week of the college football season has become. Starting in early to mid-October, we practically have a playoff scenario taking place every Saturday. While I agree with this argument, it's important to note the special interest that would be attached to bowl games that are worked into a potential 16-team playoff format.
That way, you would have a tremendously exciting regular season capped off by a playoff scenario that would allow the battle for the national championship to be decided on the field.
Heisman race too close to call
During Oklahoma's 27-24 victory over Kansas State in the Big 12 championship game on Saturday night, I went back and forth on whether OU's Josh Heupel or Florida State's Chris Weinke would garner my unofficial vote for the Heisman Trophy.
While Heupel missed a number of open receivers and certainly wasn't performing up to the level of his past games this season, the bottom line is that he led the Sooners to yet another hard-fought victory and was at his best in crucial situations.
Also keep in mind, when comparing Heupel to Weinke, that the Sooners' skill-position talent isn't nearly up to the level of Florida State. Even though Peter Warrick, Ron Dugans and Laveranues Coles moved on to the NFL, FSU's receiving corps proved again to be the deepest in the nation. The running game also improved with the development of huge senior RT Char-ron Dorsey. With all that in mind, I really applaud Weinke on what has been a tremendous season for the 28-year-old signal caller.
|Josh Heupel led Oklahoma to an undefeated regular season and the Big 12 title.|
I remind you of Weinke's age only because it would be a complete injustice for any voter to hold that against Weinke in determining who should win the Heisman Trophy.
The reason he's a 28-year-old senior is because he opted to sign with the Toronto Blue Jays following his high school career in St. Paul, Minn., where he was state Player of the Year as a senior. Following six years with the Blue Jays, he returned to FSU in '97, seeing action in just two games.
The next year he won the starting job, tying an FSU record at the time with nine games where he threw for over 200 yards. His pass-efficiency rating led the ACC that year as well. Unfortunately, Weinke's season came to an end late in the campaign when he suffered a neck injury that required major surgery.
In '99, he returned to action, leading the Seminoles to their first-ever unbeaten season and a victory over Virginia Tech for the national championship. Now this season, he's poised to lead the Seminoles to back-to-back national championships.
When you evaluate the career accomplishments of Weinke, any mention of his age as a negative would be unbelievably ridiculous. Check out what I chronicled above one more time. Realize the struggles Weinke endured. Not only did he return to enjoy an immensely successful college career on the gridiron after six years away from the game, but he also overcame a serious neck injury.
And do you think it's easy for a quarterback his age to have the unquestioned respect of each and every teammate, a number of whom are still just teenagers? I think not. Talk to the Seminole players. They will tell you firsthand how much respect and admiration they have for Weinke. He's been a true leader in every sense of the word.
Folks, all I can tell you is this. I'm glad I don't have a vote, because in my mind, it's too close to call. Haven't we heard that somewhere before?
Seriously though, both Weinke and Heupel did as much for their respective teams as anyone could have asked. It's definitely fitting that Weinke and Heupel will square off against each other when Florida State takes on Oklahoma for the national championship.
In a year where the most critical of decisions has been put on hold, maybe this time around we should delay the vote until the outcome of this game is determined. Whoever leads their team to a victory in the Orange Bowl comes away with the Heisman Trophy as well.