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Published: Monday, 5/12/2008

BCS officials in denial over broken format

Idle thoughts from an idle mind while wishing theCavaliers would actually set some screens and run someplays for LeBron:

The big brass from the Bowl Championship Series met recently. The Southeastern Conference pushed the popular notion of a plus-one championship format and, amazingly, nobody listened. It turns out that the Big Ten and Pac-10 conferences are apparently not alone in their disdain for anything that might impersonate a playoff system.

The plus-one concept would have the top four teams in the final BCS standings meet (Nos. 1 vs. 4, 2 vs. 3) in two semifinal games with the winners to meet in a title game. It would all be done within the current bowl structure.

But the SEC found few, if any, allies. Notre Dame athletic director Kevin White told media members, If it ain t broke, don t fix it.

If it ain t broke? The last two BCS title games have produced 41-14 and 38-24 scores. (It isn t really important who lost those games, is it?) This ain t-broke format also gave us USC 49, Illinois 17; Georgia 41, Hawaii 10; and West Virginia 48, Oklahoma 28 in three of last season s nontitle games.

Prepare for more of the same, since it ain t broke.

Speaking of college football, the conclusion of spring practices prompted ESPN.com writer Mark Schlabach to produce one of the first Top 25 polls for next season. Ohio State fans might be interested to know that he has the Buckeyes ranked No. 1.

He goes so far as to suggest that OSU could lose at USC on Sept. 13 and still end up in the BCS title game for the third straight year. But the Buckeyes would have to beat four other teams Schlabach has in his top 25 Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Penn State. And OSU would have to beat all of those except Penn State on the road. Sounds like a tall order even for an experienced team.

Georgia, Oklahoma, USC, and Florida round out his top five, with Missouri and former Toledo coach Gary Pinkel at No. 6.

Cliff Lee, with his 6-0 start and microscopic ERA, isn t the only Cleveland pitcher who should be drawing raves. In his last four starts, C.C. Sabathia has struck out 32 batters, walked only six, and has a 1.98 ERA. And Aaron Laffey, despite a 1-2 record, has put together three straight solid outings and has an ERA of 1.83. Now, if only that offensive punch shown during a 12-0 win over Toronto on Saturday proves not to have been an aberration.

Jeffrey Loria has long operated on the cheap as owner of the Montreal Expos and, more recently, the Florida Marlins. In fact, the latter has a 2008 payroll of $22.6 million. Heck, the Yankees have three players making about that much or more.

History says Loria will trade top, franchise-type players (think Miguel Carbrera) for lower-priced prospects rather than open his checkbook to market price. But now comes word that he is giving shortstop Hanley Ramirez, the best young player in baseball you ve probably never seen play, a six-year, $70 million deal.

In the midst of a third straight banner season, Ramirez will be the foundation of a good, young team that will move into a new, mostly taxpayer-funded stadium in 2011. The good-faith, lucrative contract for Ramirez is the least that Loria, who has made a baseball career out of doing less than the least, can do for Marlins fans.



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