SI Vault
Edited by Gay Flood
October 02, 1978
ANALYZING THE POLLS Sir:Walter Bingham's article Going to the Polls, Weakly (Sept. 18) was excellent. It's about time the flaws in the college football ranking system were pointed out. Now I wonder how long it will be before anything is done to correct the situation.BRIAN REYNOLDSCharleston, W. Va.
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October 02, 1978

19th Hole: The Readers Take Over

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Walter Bingham's article Going to the Polls, Weakly (Sept. 18) was excellent. It's about time the flaws in the college football ranking system were pointed out. Now I wonder how long it will be before anything is done to correct the situation.
Charleston, W. Va.

Now I realize why Penn State has never been ranked No. 1. In reference to your five rules, Penn State fails to observe the last three. Rule 3? Penn State stopped playing the service academies (Army and Navy) and then added Ohio State, among others. Joe Paterno refuses to roll up a score against a patsy, as suggested in Rule 4. Which leaves Rule 5. Because the Nittany Lions play Pitt, in recent years a powerhouse, late in the season, Penn State's bowl bids come in late when the better bowls are usually already booked.
Fort Benjamin Harrison, Ind.

Walter Bingham stopped just short of citing recent football history's best (or worst) example of "ignorance, pride and politics"—the award of the 1975 national championship to Oklahoma (11-1) instead of to Arizona State (12-0), the only one of the contending teams to go unbeaten that year—Ohio State lost to UCLA in the Rose Bowl—and the conqueror of Nebraska in the Fiesta Bowl.

Surely that act of collective stupidity was a factor in the move of Arizona State and Arizona out of an increasingly powerful but unrecognized WAC. Despite fine teams like Brigham Young, the conference is still looked upon as a football backwater with a long way to go.

We have a rating system that seems to have as its principal goal the annual aggrandizement of more or less the same 10 teams, regardless of merit.
Portland, Ore.

Although Walter Bingham never takes a firm stand, he suggests, like many before him, that the title of No. 1 should be decided by a series of playoff games among the top-rated teams rather than by balloting by coaches, newspaper writers, television reporters and radiomen.

Why is everyone so interested in patterning college football after the professional game? To me, the appeal of college football lies in its distinctive traditions. The bowl games are part of these traditions, as is the controversy that is spawned by the poll system. Healthy arguments among undergraduates, alumni and fans would become a thing of the past if a decisive playoff system were instituted. Such a format would further erode the values upon which the college game was founded.
Clifton, N.J.

In regard to the Coach's suggestion of a return to single-platoon football (Half Would Make It Whole, Sept. 11), at least one major college coach has been an advocate of one-platoon football for several years. The University of Iowa's Bob Commings has staunchly maintained—while other coaches snicker at him—that the quickest way to equalize the football haves and have-nots is to return to "real" football. Commings has cited all the reasons listed by the Coach, but he also has another justification, which should be dear to John (Scribe) Underwood's heart: injuries. Commings feels that many injuries are the result of the tremendous force of the collision of two highly trained and well-rested opponents. If players had to play both offense and defense, they would be a lot more tired. If they're tired, they won't be running with such abandon and therefore won't be impacting with such great force. Thus injuries are bound to be reduced.

Commings has done a heckuva job at Iowa, turning a bunch of misfits into a respectable team, but few have called him a prophet in his own time. And yet....
Sigourney, Iowa

I agree that Jimmy Connors played very well in the U.S. Open, but you gave him more credit than he is due (He Mowed Borg Down, Sept. 18). Bjorn Borg was impeded by a blister—a severe blister—on his racket hand. Although you mentioned the blister, and that Borg experienced pain and was administered an anesthetic, you let us readers imagine that Connors was unstoppable. Let us not forget how many times in the past Connors has appeared unstoppable, only to bow down to Bjorn. Borg is still No. 1!
National City, Calif.

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