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No more 'bowling' for dollars

Steve Young is right.

The NCAA needs to go back to school, study up and find a better way to run a national championship for college football teams. In every major sport, except football, teams start out on a level playing field, with losers dropping from the national tournament and winners moving ahead until a champ is crowned.

In every sport, except football, Podunk University has the same shot at becoming that champion as Notre Dame.

The roadblock for such a change, of course, is revenue. With the current bowl system, corporate sponsors buy into the game for astronomical amounts, the Bowl Championship Series people get to play "kingmaker" and the elite teams are given a leg up to glory.

Those who favor the status quo pitch "tradition" as a watchword. The only tradition they're really interested in is the annual blossoming of the "money tree."

Besides, in college football the rules have been altered time and again to make the game more compelling and attractive to fans and their funds. Remember the "great tradition" of kicking off from the 40 yard line? Gone. When kicks began bouncing into the end zone, the dearth of exciting kick returns got that one off the books.

Offensive rules for blocking, defensive tactics, placement of the ball on the 20 yard line after a missed field goal and dozens of other aspects of the game have been changed because they drained the interest of fans.

The irony, of course, is that a national playoff for college football would likely do more to kindle interest in the game than anything since the forward pass. But those with their hands in the till aren't interested.

Of the $109 million awarded to colleges for bowl game appearances, $104 million went to BCS teams. And those who own a portion of that cash cow are determined not to share the cream.

It's time Congress and the schools left out of the loop took a hard-nosed approach. An anti-trust suit against the BCS is being considered. Given the good-old-boy connections, the suit may fly. Legislators, such as Utah's Chris Cannon, have also begun to weigh in with opinions. We urge them to turn up the heat.

The old system is broken; a new one is needed.

It's time to spark a "January Madness" for football to go along with the popular "March Madness" ignited by college basketball.