The Washington Times - November 17, 2008, 12:41AM

President-elect Barack Obama on Sunday said the National Collegiate Athletic Association should institute a college football playoff system, and vowed that he will push them to do so.

“This is important,” Mr. Obama said, at the end of a nearly 40-minute interview with CBS News’ “60 Minutes.”

“I’m gonna throw my weight around a little bit. I think it’s the right thing to do,” he said.

“I think any sensible person would say that if you’ve got a bunch of teams who play throughout the season, and many of them have one loss or two losses, there’s no clear decisive winner that we should be creating a playoff system,” Mr. Obama said.

“Eight teams. That would be three rounds, to determine a national champion. It would it would add three extra weeks to the season. You could trim back on the regular season. I don’t know any serious fan of college football who has disagreed with me on this.”

The NCAA has resisted calls over the last several years to make such a change, clinging to its tradition-rich bowl system and the Bowl Championship Series, which relies on polls and computer ratings to pick the two teams that play for the national championship.

BCS results have often been the source of controversy, as schools with perfect records or with as many wins and losses as those who make it to the championship have been left out with no chance to compete for the number one spot.

But the BCS has become a lucrative business for the 10 schools that make it to the four major games and the championship game.

Just as President Bush pushed Major League Baseball to clean up its players’ use of illegal performance-enhancing drugs such as steroids, Mr. Obama appears to have found his pet athletic cause to push for.

He first mentioned his support for the playoff system during an interview with ESPN during the “Monday Night Football” game between the Washington Redskins and Pittsburgh Steelers last week.

His calls for college football reform are not the first from a lawmaker. Rep. Joe Barton, Texas Republican, in 2005 called a BCS official before his subcommittee to review the system.



- Jon Ward, White House reporter, The Washington Times