Mr. President, we have a problem

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You have a lot of problems to solve, but you promised to address the need for a college football playoff.

By Steve Doyle

Dear President Obama:

If you are serious about being re-elected, the door of opportunity has been kicked as wide open as the Montana sky.

This isn’t about your ideas for handling our continuing economic morass, the ever-threatening swagger of Iran, the everlasting war on terror in Afghanistan and ever however much you think we should spend on the military going forward.

Those are important, impervious issues, to be sure, but they’re not your real opportunity.

No, Mr. President, if you truly want to keep those nice digs in D.C., fly yourself down to New Orleans and straighten out that avaricious A-team that runs the BS…I mean, BCS. (That’s the college football bowl “championship” organizing committee, for those of you among the great unvarnished).

Mr. President, you promised before you were elected in 2008 that you would look into helping college football start a national playoff for the nation’s dominant universities (the little guys already know how to do this).

We applauded that position and encouraged it. After all, the futures of many of our children and billions of dollars would be affected by such a development.

Yes, Mr. President, you had a strong plank in your platform, but you’ve allowed that plank to go kerplunk. Here were are, as the pundits like to point out, four years later, and we’re looking at an absence of leadership.

You probably watched that game Monday night  that those BCS people would like you to call a national championship, and you will probably invite the winners, Alabama, to your house for photos.

But you and I both know that Alabama-LSU really was just another bowl game by another name, no more important than, say, the Alamo Bowl – to  anyone who isn’t affiliated with the schools or ESPN – and it wasn’t half as entertaining.

Dealing with terrorists and national greed are problems that are difficult for any president to solve quickly, but does this really take that much energy?

And it’s not like you have any competition on this.

Those six Republicans who want your job don’t have much of a clue.

Did you see their debate Saturday night? Diane Sawyer asked them if they weren’t running for president that night, what might they be doing.

Newt Gingrich: “I’d be home watching the basketball championship game….I, I mean the football championship game.”

Rick Santorum: “I’d be like Newt, at home with my family gathered around, watching the football championship game.”

Do you think either fired the person who handles his calendar?

At least Rick Perry, who said he would be at a shooting range, and Ron Paul, who professed to prefer reading economic textbooks, gave somewhat accurate answers.

But, really, call it what you will, that game played on Monday – check that, Newt and Rick? – really had nothing to do with deciding the best team in the country.

If it had, Alabama wouldn’t even have been playing.

Don’t you think it’s reasonable to argue that the best team in the country at least has to be the best team its conference, or even a division of its conference? That’s like letting Hillary Clinton go against John McCain because a computer liked her better, don’t you think?

Stanford wouldn’t qualify, and neither would Virginia Tech. Forget Oklahoma, Nebraska, USC and a lot of other traditional powers.

Long before Tim Tebow was born under a star, people have been arguing about this. It even out-hashes Iran – and maybe the Super Bowl.

You hear what they say: A playoff system would diminish the regular season (silly) and that the bowl system needs to be protected – to be honest, hasn’t this BCS stuff really ruined Jan. 1 anyway? –  and that this would intrude on the players’ studies (like the semipros care more about the academics than those playing in the division with, say, Harvard, Yale or Macalester College).

I say, let any critic write a dissertation on the con side of this debate, founded on any principle you want, but that won’t earn a degree in my school.

In fact, Mr. President, you know the solution to this really should be a 100 level college course, requiring only an understanding of bonehead math and middle-school geography.

There are eight conferences in major college football:  SEC (sorry, Sun Belt fans):, Big 12 (11, 10, 9, 8…), Big 10 (ditto) Pacific 10 (ditto), Atlantic Coast, Big Least, er, East, Western Athletic and Mountain West/Conference USA (they’re merging their  championship games).

Each of those leagues determines a winner, and in my view each winner would deserve to be in a playoff. Then, if you want to let also-rans such as Alabama or Georgia or Stanford have a second chance, as the NCAA Basketball Tournament so wonderfully does, then pick the next best 8 teams through your BCS formula and let them be the wild cards in the bracket.

If it works for basketball, it can work for football. I mean, those guys play October to April, about 40 games, and they appear to get through school as well as any other big-time athletes.

Start the football playoff two weeks before Christmas and finish it on New Year’s Day. Use the bowls for each round, if you wish, and then let the other 60 teams that went 6-6 or better play in the other 30 bowl games.

The season would be done by Jan. 1, as it should, and there would be a true No. 1 on 1-1.

Simple, isn’t it? It’s definitely a green initiative, but you’ve had trouble getting people to see the value in those, haven’t you?

But you can do this, Mr. President. You have the power and the clout – and you made a promise.

At least you know which day the game is played.