I learned two things about Berry Tramel this past week.
One of those items didn’t surprise me. The other floored me.
Sportswriter of the year
First, I learned that Berry was named Oklahoma Sportswriter of the Year by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association. That news did not surprise me. It’s the fourth time Berry has won the honor from the group.
There are a lot of really talented reporters and writers covering sports in Oklahoma — all around the state for a variety of news sources — but they’re all playing for second place when it comes to this award. It would be pretty easy for him to be named the winner of this award every year.
A playoff proponent
Second, I learned that Berry supports an 11-team college football playoff system that would only include the conference champions. His point is that making only conferece champions eligible would take all the guesswork out of the system. I was very surprised by this opinion, but pleased nonetheless.
I have vivid memories of working in The Oklahoman sports department in 1999, when Berry served as assistant sports editor, and discussing the college football playoff possibilities. I supported a 16-team playoff, using 11 conference champions and five at-large bids. I remember arguing over a lot of the system with Berry, but my memory was that he believed it was far too bloated. In the end, I worked with Jenni Carlson on a piece she wrote on Dec. 28, 1999 supporting a 16-team playoff. We even designed a full page showcasing the system we came up with.
I confronted Berry about my memory, and he still says 16 is too bloated because it still includes five at large bids. I see his point and will wholly support the 11-team system with the same logic I had in 1999 — the regular season would remain critical and that teams might even schedule better non-conference games, because the conference championship (not an undefeated season) will get them into the playoff.
But my point is this … in 12 years, Berry moved his opinion from a two-team playoff system all the way to an 11-team system (the way I remember it). And I only moved my opinion from a16-team system to an 11-team system.
After 12-plus years, I claim victory.