If college football is going to break from its whimsical tradition, make a clean break. Ignore the polls.
Let a duly-sworn committee name the four most-deserving conference champions and let's get going.
Conference champions carry weight. There's no subjecture. No debate. In the backwater leagues (like the Big 12) which stage no championship game, in the case of a tie, let the conference submit a team for consideration.
The big dogs would mostly rule. But not always. A Boise State could sneak in from the Mountain West. A Houston from Conference USA.
Best of all, it would do more than protect the regular season. It would enhance the regular season.
Every Game Counts, traditionalists like to say, even though it's not true. But more games would count if only conference champions could qualify.
If such a plan had been in place this season, consider the status going into Thanksgiving weekend.
Four teams in the running for the SEC title. Two teams in the running for the Big 12 title. Five teams in the running for the Pac-12 title. Three teams in the running for the Big Ten. Three alive in the ACC. Six alive in the Big East, not that the Big East had a sniff of producing a top-four team.
But while we're at it, take the 11-team model. Add in four alive in Conference USA and three in the Mid-American Conference. Plus already-clinched TCU (Mountain West), Arkansas State (Sun Belt) and Louisiana Tech (WAC). That's 33 teams still alive for Gridiron Madness and/or the national championship when the Thanksgiving turkey is carved.
Making conference supremacy mandatory eliminates October coronations. Alabama 2011, Oklahoma 2003, Nebraska 2001. All made the national title game without winning their conference.
All were great teams. No one debates otherwise. But they were anointed in early season and had to play their way out, not play their way in.
It also eliminates scheduling your way to the tournament. The dolts don't care that on the day Oregon played LSU, Stanford played San Jose State. They only care that Oregon lost and Stanford won. Details don't matter to simple minds.
So instead of scrapping the details, let's scrap the simple minds. Let's make every game truly count. Let's make my old pals happy. Protect the regular season, which could be the best in American sport.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at email@example.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.