Change That Even I Can Believe In

John Harwood interviewed President-elect Barack Obama last night and asked him what college football team should be ranked number one right now. Obama reiterated his support for a playoff system in Division 1A college football. That’s change that even I can believe in!

You can watch the video of Obama’s remarks above, or read the transcript below:

HARWOOD: Last question. Florida plays Oklahoma tomorrow in the, what’s widely regarded as the national championship game. You’ve talked about the need for a college football playoff. Do you think Utah, which finished undefeated by defeating Alabama, has a good a claim as either of those schools to be the national champion?

OBAMA: I think Utah has a pretty good claim. They’re undefeated. And Florida and Oklahoma both are well…(unintelligible). I think USC, which had a great Rose Bowl, beat Penn State pretty badly. They’ve got a pretty good claim to being number one. Florida and Oklahoma, I think, both have a claim. Texas, at this point, has got to feel like, `Well, we did OK, too.’ I think–I think a football playoff system makes sense. I’ve spoken about this quite a bit, and I think if you look at knowledgeable sports fans, they agree with me. But, you know, I’ve got to pick and choose my battles. I probably am going to be spending more time focusing on creating three more–three million more jobs.


  • Rick

    Just as long as it does not take away from the week to week excitement of the regular season. College football’s regular season is unique in that “each game matters” so much (as to borrow the slogan).

  • Ted

    Just like a politician, Obama can’t mention his one favorite team, he has to name several.

    At least he isn’t like Hillary, who once claimed she was always a Yankees fan.

  • Nathan

    Obama may be the President-elect, but he is simply wrong on the BCS issue and the need for a playoff. Granted, this year is a difficult year, but to blame the BCS and demand a playoff becaue the BCS is screwed up is ridiculous. For years prior to the BCS the same issues were on the table. The AP and the Coaches Poll, or other polls could have and did pick different National Champions during some years. The title games were set by the regional matchups. Pac 10 vs Big 10 in the Rose Bowl, SEC vs somebody in the Sugar, etc. So, lighten up on the BCS. This is simply a difficult year.

    A playoff would not solve anything. Do all the BCS conference winners get in? What about the BCS conferences that don’t have a season ending Championship? Do they have to start having one? Utah does not even play in a BCS conference, so what about them? Are we to believe that Hawaii last year was a legitimate contender? If the Utes would have been beaten by the Tide this would not be nearly as contentious. The Tide did not have anything to play for after losing to Florida, whereas Utah had everything to play for.

    And don’t even bring up Southern Cal, because they do not deserve anything. You can’t lose to Oregon St. and have a legit claim when Texas, OK, Fla and even Bama prior to the bowl game all had one loss against better competition. Southern Cal plays a home game everytime they go to the Rose Bowl. Talk about unfair to teams traveling multiple time zones to play them. And everybody knows Penn St. was overrated. USC doesn’t deserve any love; at least not this year.

    There is nothing wrong with the college format and nothing wrong with some controversy over the champion. So vote Utah the AP champion. We had a shared National Title a few years. Who cares! Only people in Southern California, Utah, and Austin. And even Texas didn’t seem to care because it took them three quarters to wake up against Ohio St.

    The reason College Football is so great is because every week matters and it especially matters whom you lose to and when. The debate is great and everybody loves to put in their two cents.

    A playoff will change nothing because somebody has to pick the 8 teams in it. What system are you going to use, the BCS rankings? Everybody keeps saying they stink, so whose will you use. The AP? The BCS was created because the AP picking the National Champion was considered flawed.

    Let Utah print up teeshirts that say National Champs. Who Cares!

    Just leave College Football alone, because it is great!

  • Nathan

    So if Harvard went undefeated as well, you think the title game should have been Utah vs. Harvard? Or if there was a playoff that Harvard would get picked? Cmon!

    Somebody is still picking and choosing who gets into a playoff and somebody will always get left out that has an argument. That’s why a playoff won’t work any better.

    Tell Utah to move to a conference where every game matters.

  • Darius T

    Nathan (and all),

    I used to be against a playoff system, but I’ve come around slightly. We do NOT need some huge 16 team (or larger) playoff system, because (as Nathan pointed out) that would significantly hurt the excitement of the regular season. “Oops, we lost this week? So what, we could still lose another and make the playoffs.” What I would propose is an 8 team playoff. Any undefeated teams would get an automatic bid (Harvard doesn’t count since they are D1AA) and whatever spots were remaining would go to the top ranked teams in some BCS-like poll.

    Here’s what the first round would have looked like this year:

    Oklahoma vs Boise State
    Florida vs Texas Tech
    Texas vs Utah
    Alabama vs USC

    Anyone who can’t make it into the top 6 or 8 doesn’t have any room to complain about not having a shot at the national title.

  • Darius T

    The nice thing is that the college schedule has the room for this… get rid of the bye week or start the season one week earlier and play one week later and have the first playoff game in early December and the last two during the first weeks of January.

  • Nathan


    Harvard was a joke, but the point is valid.

    Your eight teams are picked on what criteria, the BCS? If the BCS is so capable of getting the top eight right, then there should not be a problem with Oklahoma vs. Florida.

    So Penn St. gets left out because of Boise State? There is no way, even in a down year, that the WAC is the equivalent of the Big 10 in power, depth, and quality of teams.

    Your picks for the eight team playoff only make my point brother.

    If the Moutain West and the WAC merged, got rid of their chump schools and held a Championship at the end of the year, you might have a better argument, but somebody will get snubbed.

  • Darius T

    Did you see what USC did to that Penn State team? They are significantly overrated.

    A BCS-like poll, using mostly computer rankings and some human polls, is what I would suggest using. The BCS is very capable, but narrowing it down to two is just to subjective to the whims of the human polls. Opening it up to 8 (or 6 with the top two getting byes) would keep the importance of the regular season but also give the Utahs and USCs of the world an opportunity to make up for being in a weaker conference (though notice that the MWC dominated the Pac-10 this year) or not showing up one week. The important thing here is not to give every 2-loss or even 1-loss team a chance, just those who legitimately have an argument for being #1. Penn State doesn’t have an argument as they lost to Iowa (granted, an Iowa team that really came on late in the season) and generally beat up on one of the weakest Big 10 conferences in history. USC, on the other hand, has made almost every opponent look like mince meat except OSU. And any team, even if they are in a “lowly” conference, that goes undefeated should have a shot to prove their mettle. These days, you rarely have a team who only plays cupcakes (this year’s Ball State being one of those rare exceptions). Utah played a good schedule and whooped everyone. Then they utterly destroyed a very solid Bama team. Boise State was a weaker undefeated team, but then again, they would have played the top seed in the playoffs, which would have been a nice reward for that team to not have to play a super difficult game immediately. I would prefer having only 6 teams in the playoffs so the top 2 could get a first round bye, but that would cut out too many teams with good arguments. I can’t see how anyone would have much room to gripe if there were 8 teams taken.

  • Nathan

    USC plays a home game against Penn St. at the Rose Bowl, so don’t get too excited about them.

    Did you see who USC played this year? Nobody… They beat Ohio St early, and as you said the Big 10 was in a down year. They lost to Oregon St., almost lost to Arizona and played in a conference that was dominated by the MWC (your words).

    USC gets all the love because of their history, but they would have been lucky to get through the Big 12 or the SEC with two losses. Use anybody but USC for your example.

    I will continue my point that even in a year like this it is simply fun to argue about who is #1. That makes college football unique and always has. Leave the playoffs to the NFL.

    What we should be talking about is all the hype that Florida and Tebow are receiving. It’s as if Oklahoma shouldn’t even show up.

    Here’s my prediction. Oklahoma by 15

    That ought to get some SEC folks talking.

  • Darius T

    Ha, I’ll go for that.

    Exactly… last time OU visited Miami to play a Florida team, they were huge underdogs and ended up not allowing one offensive point to what was considered the best offense in the nation. Keep underestimating those Sooners, it only helps them.

  • Nathan


    With all due respect to you SEC boys. If Florida is all that you claim and doesn’t win this game (essentially a home game) they should return the SEC Championship trophy.

    Tebow will have no excuse, becaue he wished he could have thrown against the Big 12 all year.

    Bradford doesn’t care who he throws against, because he destroys everybody he faces.


  • Greg Mills

    The Big 12 has a new name…NDC…NO DEFENSE CONFERENCE!! Ole Miss beats Tech? Oregon (down Pac 10 year??) beats Ok State? Tx squeaks, squeaks, squeaks by Ohio St? I think USC would have won the Big 12 hands down. Perhaps one loss in the SEC, just like Florida or Alabama.

    Utah needs some more love here for sure.

  • Daragh Hoey

    Oklahoma will get destroyed tonight for one simple reason….

    The referees won’t allow holding by the OL. Big 12 referees NEVER call holding penalties. It’s infuriating. And Oklahoma do it more than anyone else.

    It’s very easy to pick apart a defense when you have about minutes to throw every time you drop back. Take away the OL’s ability to hold and Bradford will panic. Just like he did in last year’s bowl game. He’s not the QB everyone thinks he is.

  • Darius T

    Daragh, you clearly didn’t watch the Okie State-OU game then. He had numerous chances to panic but always stayed level-headed. That was his Heisman-winning perforance.

  • Daragh Hoey

    I did watch it. I really wasn’t all that impressed by Bradford.

    For a start, it was a Big 12 game with Big 12 referees. There was a ridiculous amount of holding going on by both sides.

    And I also remember Bradford getting a heck of a lot of breaks in that game. Like that pass intended for Johnson getting deflected and landing right in the hands of an uncovered Jermaine Gresham, who trotted downfield for a TD.

    To my mind there is no way Sam Bradford should have won the Heisman, but them’s the breaks sonny.

  • Daragh Hoey

    Good for him.

    There are plenty of football analysts I disagree with.

    This clause stands out from his article: “it has to be noted that he once again received fabulous protection from his offensive front”.

    It’s my assertion that the reason for this “fabulous protection” is the seemingly purposeful decision of Big 12 referees to allow untold amounts of holding to go on.

    The refs in bowl games aren’t so accommodating.

  • Darius T

    I disagree, I saw some flagrant holding by Ohio State that went uncalled in their bowl game. It was atrocious. I think the problem is throughout college football, not just one or two conferences.

  • Darius T

    Well, it appears that Florida paid off those refs handsomely. OU couldn’t get a pass interference call once… pathetic. At least they dominated the game, just left too many points on the field. Guess all those Big 12 haters can be silent now…

  • Darius T

    They didn’t finish drives… they controlled the game but not the red zone. Florida had much less success moving the ball, but much more putting it in the end zone. Definitely not the “shellacking” predicted by Denny and others…

  • Darius T

    OU’s defense showed up, but the offense, like all the great offenses in this year’s bowl games, had too long a rest. A month kills good offenses, and it was most apparent tonight. They weren’t as razor sharp.

  • Kyle Barrett

    Then why blame the refs? Looks like sour grapes man. You can’t blame an inability to score on 1st and goal on a layoff either. No excuses. Florida played great D. And surprisingly, OU handled us very well for 3 quarters. When we figured out how to run it was a different game.

    Go Gators! Go Gator Nation!
    Class of ’00

  • Darius T

    Not surprisingly at all… welcome to Big 12 football…

    The refs blew it on two straight calls on OU’s last drive… the Florida defenders are hanging all over the receivers and nary a flag. The whole game was poorly officiated, which really through the Sooners off of their tempo… whoever that head ref is should go back to anonymity, he was over his head.

  • Kyle Barrett

    Surprisingly was the wrong word. I didn’t intend it as a slight. They played much better than I thought they would but they are a great defensive team.

  • Darius T

    As Pete Fiutak, the premier college football analyst (who also picked Florida to win) said in his “stream-of-consciousness” coverage, OU should have been up 21-7 at half. They completely dominated the first half, yet had almost nothing to show for it. Tebow looked like the 10th best QB in the Big 12 in that first half. He picked it up in the 2nd half.

  • Darius T

    Fiutak rightly pointed out that either Utah or USC could probably have whooped the teams that showed up tonight… pretty average from both sides… I guess that is probably one of the biggest reasons for a playoff, it will cut down on the time off. These really good teams take a month off and look horrendous.

Comment here. Please use FIRST and LAST name.