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A College Playoff Plan That Makes Sense

Imagine a national semifinal game being played at Jordan-Hare Stadium in late December. Not a bad thought.
Imagine a national semifinal game being played at Jordan-Hare Stadium in late December. Not a bad thought.

The sky must be falling. The end must be near. Count me among those who like Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany's proposal for a playoff. The plan he floated a few weeks back is gaining traction among NCAA presidents. It's not perfect and not without controversy, but it makes the most sense.

Here's how it works: The top four teams in the final BCS poll would be pulled away from the bowl games. They would face each other in 1 vs. 4 and 2 vs. 3 semifinal games on the campuses of the higher ranked teams.

The winners would advance to play in a championship game that would rotate around to various big-city venues, not just cities that have BCS bowl games. The bowl system would be preserved and continue to play out concurrently with the new playoff format.

What I like best is having the semifinals played on college campuses. Imagine a semifinal game at the Big House in late December with snow on the ground or a seasonally warm December day at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

The championship game should then be moved to Saturday night and given the coverage it deserves. During this year's Super Bowl, more than 111 million viewers tuned in to the game. The BCS Championship drew only 24 million viewers on a Monday night. The Final Four Championship Game drew 20 million viewers - also on a Monday night.

College football can do better. We may be getting closer.

The talk and speculation leading up to the hiring of new Auburn assistant coach Willie Martinez had the feel of a defensive coordinator search. Never have so many stories been written about the hiring of a position coach. Then again, after last season you can understand the heightened interest by Auburn fans.

What do we know about Martinez? If you talk to our Georgia friends, they'll tell you he played a major role in the decline of the Bulldog program beginning in 2005 when he took over as defensive coordinator. If you look at his numbers, they tell you something completely different.

In his first season as coordinator in 2005, Georgia ranked eighth nationally in scoring defense. The next season, Martinez's unit ranked eighth nationally in total defense. In 2007, his defense ranked 14th nationally.

It's safe to say he's qualified to coach the Auburn defensive backs.

One thing is apparent: He and Auburn defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder are attached at the hip. They will be working together for the fifth time dating back to their high school coaching days in Boca Raton, Florida.

Tony Barbee got his biggest win since coming to Auburn when his Tigers beat No. 23 Miss State 65-55 on Saturday night. It snapped a three-game losing streak and was Auburn's first win over a ranked opponent in three years. The win moves the men to 14-12 overall, 4-8 in the SEC.

Imagine the pressure Gene Chizik would have been under had his second team endured similar results. While there's guarded optimism that Barbee is beginning to turn things around, if the sport was football, there would be panic in the streets.

While Barbee will never have close to the support the football team enjoys, he can also sleep easy knowing Auburn will give him time to right the ship. Football coaches in the SEC have no such luxury.