What some people won't do to avoid speaking the dreaded P-word.

The folks who run the Bowl Championship Series don't want a playoff. And just to make sure nobody gets one, they worked on math problems until their heads hurt, kept their fingers crossed so long they suffered cramps, and then, on Sunday, did more crowing over their handiwork than they had a right to.It would take a year's supply of wrinkle cream, in fact, to wipe the grin off BCS chairman Roy Kramer's face now that Tennessee and Florida State are set to play for the national title Jan. 4 in the Fiesta Bowl.

"I feel we arrived at two tremendously qualified teams to be ranked 1-2," Kramer said every time somebody pointed a television camera in his direction.

Exactly what Roy is so smug about is anyone's guess. The sports writers who vote in The Associated Press poll had it the same way. Ditto for the coaches in the USA Today/ESPN poll. So far as we know, none of them actually did the calculations called for in the BCS' complicated formula. And most of them still think quartiles are those big bottles of liquor people give out as gifts during the holidays.

Even so, everyone knew who the biggest beneficiary was when the craziest Saturday in a while wound down. It was FSU coach Bobby Bowden, who a day later still seemed stunned by his good fortune.

"I have never accomplished so much doing nothing yesterday, just sitting on the couch," he admitted.

Florida State absorbed its only loss at North Carolina State on Sept. 12, slipped as low as No. 11 in both polls, and played its last game three weeks ago.

"Things worked out for us," Bowden added, "we were lucky. And yet there are several other teams that ought to be in there and probably deserve to be in there maybe as much as we do."

Therein lies the problem.

This was a regular season when No. 1 was not in doubt, and No. 2 was close to a consensus choice. But Nos. 3-5, and possibly even No. 6, were anything but. In the final BCS standings, Nos. 3-6 were Kansas State, Ohio State, UCLA and Texas A&M. Those rankings didn't turn out to be worth anything more than the paper they were printed on.

"How can we go from being one point away, one play away from playing Tennessee for the national championship to playing Purdue in the Alamo Bowl?" Kansas State president Jon Wefald said when he found out where the 11-1 Wildcats, losers to Texas A&M in double-overtime Saturday, were headed.

"They could have figured out a way to get us into a major bowl," he added. "We could have played Syracuse in the Orange Bowl. Or we could have been in the Rose Bowl. I guess the BCS rankings only mean something for the top two teams. That's not right. That's another thing they have to change."

Not as far as Kramer is concerned.

"We want to create 1 vs. 2," he said. "The others are up to the individual bowls."

The BCS is an improvement on its predecessors, which for the record were the original "Bowl Coalition," then the "Bowl Alliance," and most recently the "Super Alliance."