Don't Count On Tressel To Favor Dumping Bowls To Institute Playoffs

Tressel is as anti-playoffs as one can get.

Jan. 1, 2008

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -Jim Tressel padded his resume thanks to college playoffs. Once a fervent supporter of the postseason format, now he's changed camps.

As for his boss, Ohio State President Gordon Gee, don't even mention revising the current system to him. You do, and the guy in the bow tie gets downright graphic.

"As far as a playoff system, there will not be one," Gee said. "They'll have to wrench a playoff system out of my cold, dead hands."

With Ohio State poised to meet LSU in the Bowl Championship Series title game on Jan. 7, Tressel is as anti-playoffs as one can get. He doesn't foresee anyone tearing down the bowl system to give many fans what they want - a true playoff format similar to what takes place in the other three divisions of college football.

"A playoff system is proposed a lot. It's been talked about a million times. What I would say about it is you've got a lot of hurdles," said Tressel, who won four Division I-AA playoff titles while at Youngstown State. "What are you going to do with the dates because people like the bowls around the holidays? I think most importantly you have student-athlete issues."

Six times in his 15 years at Youngstown State, Tressel's teams played 15 games in a season. He had no problem with the way the postseason was laid out then. But now that he's spent seven years in Division I-A, or the Football Bowl Subdivision as it is now known, he believes that too much is asked of football players in most playoff formulas.

The lengthy postseason cuts into academics and increases the possibility of injuries, he said. It also affects preparations for all-star games and combines for juniors and seniors looking ahead to the NFL draft.

Not surprisingly, some of his current players agree with him.

"You can't tell me it isn't taxing on a D-3 or I-AA player," linebacker James Laurinaitis said.

Every year there are cries for playoffs. But there is no consensus on how many teams would be invited. Another hurdle that Tressel points to is no matter how many teams go into the playoffs, some teams will make the case that they were left out.



In this wacky season in which a team with two losses (LSU at 11-2) is playing for the BCS title for the first time, some wonder what Hawaii did that was so wrong. The Warriors won all 12 of their games - the only FBS team to do so - yet were shut out of the title game.

"Maybe it's a flawed system," wide receiver Brian Hartline said. "Maybe we should have a tournament or playoff at the end of the year, because as far as I'm concerned you're right - Hawaii beat everyone they played, so why shouldn't they get a shot?"

But that's not happening this year, and the Hawaiis of the world likely will never get that chance because of the weight applied to being a perennial contender from a "power" conference.

It is university presidents who are seemingly at the controls of college athletics. Gee said there is no way that the current system will be tossed away for playoffs, and he thinks most other presidents would agree with him.

"The reasons are that the bowl system works and the BCS with all of its flaws has actually created a lot of excitement," he said. "The reason we're all here is it's been a crazy, topsy-turvy year. It's much more fun than if there was just kind of this slugging forward like professional programs.

"And the third thing is that it's a slippery slope. I listen to the media. The problem is when we entered into the BCS system, we said this is it, this is as far as we're going to go. We planted our flag in the ground. Then all of a sudden people said you have to go the next step."

And that is not going to happen, he said.

Tressel admits that the BCS is not perfect. He thinks there will be modifications to the current postseason structure. But, for the most part, what you see is what you're going to get.

"I don't think anything's good enough. Just like Edison used to always say, 'There's a better way to do this: let's find it.' We've been doing that over history. We've changed things methodically," Tressel said. "I'm sure 10 years from now it's not going to look exactly the way it does. I can't tell you exactly how it's going to change. But there have been some things that limit how we can change it."