BUILDING UP THE BOWLS
The nearest thing to a national championship playoff in college football is one of the postseason bowl games—when it matches the right teams. This seldom happens, because the competition among the bowls to get outstanding teams had led the sponsors into the trap of inviting schools when their seasons are little more than half completed. In other words, bowls without conference commitments—the Sugar, Orange and Gator, for example—will gleefully make a firm deal any year a name team like Alabama has a 5-0 record, gambling that the Crimson Tide will win most of its remaining games. These gambles can backfire.
Happily for those of us who would like to seen national show down in the bowls every year, the NCAA has taken a step in that direction. Starting this year no bowl may issue an invitation—officially or privately—before the third Monday in November or on the Monday before a team's final regular game, whichever comes later.
The rule should work, because the NCAA is dealing from strength. Each year all bowl games must come up for certification, and if the NCAA finds proof that a sponsor has quietly issued illegal imitations, that bowl runs the risk of being outlawed.
"This rule has a chance because the bowls themselves want it, "says Arkansas Coach Frank Broyles, a frequent bowl visitor. "This is a good rule."
We quite agree. We look forward to more meetings between 9-1 and 10-0 teams and fewer involving a couple of 7-3s that were selected in mid-October and then began to tail off.
ENTER AL DAVIS
In his first statements after moving into Joe Foss's old office as commissioner of the American Football League, 36-year-old Al Davis predictably called for warfare all along the line. Sounding somewhat like a spurned lover crying, "Who needs you?" Davis announced that he is opposed to a merger with the NFL. "I really don't care much about the other league," Davis said. "As a coach [and general manager at Oakland] I felt a merger would hurt us."
Considering NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle's constant refusal even to discuss the issues with the AFL, the attitude of Davis is understandable. But there is a possibility that the new AFL posture is merely a matter of tactics, an attempt to accomplish with a tough policy what was not accomplished with an amiable one.
The AFL, fighting to build up its TV rating as well as its ticket sales, will attack the NFL with all the tricks the ingenious Davis can think of. Included are expansion to at least three more cities (among them, the NFL bastion, Chicago), more effective scouting systems, more money to be spent on signings and a baby-sitting system such as the one the NFL uses for hiding players during drafting time. The result is likely to cost owners in both leagues millions of dollars and provoke increasing unrest among veterans.