Richard Wiens, The Triplicate

I'll be watching ABC's telecast of the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day with my father and my son, three generations of Duck fans renewing a tradition that began when we all flocked to Pasadena in 1995 for the University of Oregon's last appearance in the "Granddandshy;adandshy;dy of Them All."

We're looking forward to kicking Ohio State's butt, although the Christmas Day disappearance of my lucky Duck football on the rocks of Pebble Beach has me a tad apprehensive.

I'm counting on Oregon's high-powered offense to overcome that setback, but there's one other problem with what would otherwise be a perfect college football afternoon. That's the fact that TV networks and the universities themselves have colluded to cheat both the Ducks and the Buckeyes - and a dozen other good teams around the country - out of the chance to play for a national championship.

Unlike every other college and pro sport, unlike every other level of college football, there is no true championship for the big schools in college football. Sure, ABC will tell you the game between Texas and Alabama on Jan. 7 is for all the marbles.

It isn't. Instead, it's the product of a nightmarish concoction of

political polls and computer rankings designed to create a pretend

championship game.

Why would the networks and colleges devise the monstrosity known as

the Bowl Championship Series instead of holding a 16-team playoff

tournament to crown a true champion? After all, such a tournament would

capture the sporting nation's attention like no other event and

generate more revenue than the current set-up. So it can't be about the

dollars, right?

Wrong. Even though college football playoffs would bring in more

total revenue, a tournament would spread it around rather than keeping

it all in the hands of the current recipients - big universities and

the organizers of the current bowl games (including TV networks). And

they're not willing to part with any of their guaranteed payoffs for

the sake of the sport and the fans.

Even worse, some university presidents engage in the blatant

hypocrisy of claiming additional end-of-season games might be

academically detrimental to their student-athletes. Those extra games

aren't a problem for the small colleges that play in tournaments and

produce actual champions, but hey, the big guys striving for a future

in pro football have gotta study for that English test.

Sheer greed denies us a true champion in arguably America's greatest sport, Division I college football.

This will not prevent the Wiens boys from rooting wildly for the

Ducks come Friday in one of the biggest of the money-grubbing bowl

games. Across the country, fans will loyally support teams that are

being denied a well-deserved chance to play for a championship.

My advice to them is to make the best of a bad situation. If their

team wins its bowl game, they should claim the national title for

themselves. Print up some T-shirts. Stamp the word "champion" on beer

mugs. Throw a parade on campus.

When it comes to big-time college football, no claim will be more legitimate.