June 14, 2007

If the SEC's top prez can't do it, no one can

He sure talked a big game, God bless him. A new direction, a defining philosophy, a revitalized road map for the 21st century.

Unfortunately, this is what it looked like last week when Bernie Machen, Florida's big-talkin', sky-walkin' president, eventually skulked out of the principal's office:

"I am now persuaded," Machen said postmortem, "that the best way to work is to try to proceed within the BCS structure."

See Bernie pound his chest about a national playoff. See Bernie hold his hat in his hands.


We had Sporting News spies in the conference room at the SEC meetings (read: principal's office), and this is how the momentous occasion played out.

Machen: "Gentlemen, college football is in dire need of a playoff."

Eleven other SEC presidents: "No."

And there you have it, everyone. Your national playoff is dead. Forever.

If the most powerful president in the most powerful conference in college sports can't spark change, who can? I actually felt sorry for the poor guy. In a matter of hours, his grand plan to right the wrongs of the world turned to complete, utter capitulation in the face of reality.

Media: "Uh, Bernie, didn't you describe this as your mission?"

Machen: "I actually voted for the national playoff before I voted against it."

This, however, is what I can't get my mind around: The very public results of this closed-door brouhaha had all the impact of North Texas and Southeastern Louisiana agreeing to play a home-and-home.

No one cared.

No expose from the Worldwide Leader. No calls from blowhard activists insinuating that university presidents refuse to agree to a playoff because a playoff would generate more revenue and more revenue would mean players better get paid. If there's a playoff, there must be a payoff.

For all the yapping and yammering about the broken system, we've heard barely a peep from the silent majority (coaches and athletic directors) about the most significant -- and failed -- pitch made by someone with clout.

On the other side of the spectrum, NCAA president Myles Brand was at the Women's College World Series, where he addressed, of all things, a football playoff.

"The NCAA's role in it," Brand said, "is to be supportive of the schools and the conferences for whatever it is they decide to do."

Let me translate: My bosses are the university presidents; whatever they say, I do.

Look, this thing is bigger than all of us. Bigger than the most powerful president in the most powerful conference in college sports. Bigger than my faithful pen pal BigTex, who can't seem to understand why something so simple as an eight- or 16-team national playoff can't be whipped up and spread out.

Hey Girlyman:

If you media boys would stop making excuses for those money-hungry fools that run college football, maybe we'd have ourselves a playoff. Maybe one day, you'll sack up.

Or get kicked there like Bernie did.


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