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December 10, 2008

Stoops has change of heart about playoff

Eyebrows raised in early November when a surprising advocate spoke out in favor of an FBS (Division I-A) playoff.

It also was a big deal when President-elect Barack Obama called for a playoff, too. No doubt it makes a powerful statement when the future leader of the free world, whose campaign message was a need for change, speaks out against the status quo.

Yet, an even greater voice against the ludicrous BCS system for crowning college football's national champion was that of Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, who also called for a playoff early last month.

"I've come full circle," Stoops said. "Anymore, I can see [the argument]. Just with the differences in non-conference scheduling, whether you have some difficult games or some people don't. And then the strengths of different conferences some conferences don't have a championship game, others do.

"I'm with you guys [some in the media]. I'm for a [playoff]."

You know it's a bad system when the coach who historically might have benefited the most from the BCS formula is against it.

There has been some debate this season that Texas deserved to be ranked higher than Oklahoma in the BCS standings because the Longhorns defeated the Sooners. But Stoops has pointed out that OU beat five teams that finished the regular season ranked among the top 25. Texas beat three.

Still, it was an intense argument. So when Oklahoma - which will face Florida for the national championship - jumped over Texas into second place in the BCS rankings two weeks ago, it was just the latest incident when the system smiled on OU.

In 2003, Stoops' Sooners were blown out by Kansas State 35-7 in the Big 12 Championship Game. Yet, the system still sent Oklahoma to the national championship game to play LSU though USC was ranked No. 1 in both human polls.

Oklahoma lost 21-14 to LSU.

The following season, the question was whether Auburn or Oklahoma deserved to be ranked second in the BCS standings and get a shot at No. 1 USC in the championship game.

Both were undefeated, and then-Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville could have made the same argument that Stoops made this season. Auburn had posted four wins over three teams ranked in the top 15 (over No. 5 LSU, No. 8 Georgia, No. 11 Tennessee and No. 15 Tennessee in a rematch in the SEC title game). Oklahoma's only victory over a top-15 team was against No. 5 Texas. The system favored Oklahoma.

The Sooners lost 55-19 to USC.

Of course, the Sooners haven't benefited all the time. Last season, OU was among several two-loss teams in contention to play Ohio State in the BCS title game, and the Sooners had just beaten top-ranked Missouri for the Big 12 championship.

Afterward, Stoops wondered how OU could be overlooked after beating the No. 1 team in the country. Yet LSU, which also had two losses, was ranked ahead of OU.

LSU went on to win the national championship.

Random thoughts and observations

Some supporters of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow for the Heisman are claiming Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford's impressive statistics are skewed because he's played against poor defensive teams. Indeed, eight teams on OU's schedule rank 72nd or worse in the nation in total defense. But seven of those teams rank 49th or better in total offense, including four of the top 10. Could it be the defensive numbers are skewed because the offenses are so good? In addition, why not consider the possibility that stats of SEC defenses could be skewed because league offenses are so stagnant? While five SEC teams rank among the nation's top 25 in total defense, six are among the bottom 25 in total offense.

Speaking of good defense, Navy's 34-0 win over Army was the Midshipmen's second consecutive shutout. They had blanked Northern Illinois in the previous game. That made Navy one of just three teams to post back-to-back shutouts this season. The other two? USC, which blanked Arizona State and Washington State, and BYU, which shut out UCLA and Wyoming.

By the way, the camouflage uniforms Army unveiled against Navy were outstanding.

Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer might have done the best coaching job of his distinguished career this season. The Hokies were obviously down this season, yet still won the ACC championship.

What happened to BYU's defense? In the first six games of the season, only one opponent exceeded 20 points against the Cougars. In the second half, BYU allowed at least 24 points in five games and more than 32 in four.

Olin Buchanan is a Heisman voter and a senior college football writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at olin@rivals.com.



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