Harbaugh Suggests College Playoff

In light of the Fiesta Bowl scandal, John Harbaugh is an advocate for change to the NCAA postseason.

Posted by Mike Duffy on Thursday, March 31st, 2011 at 7:03 pm | Categories: Mike Duffy

College football runs deep in Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh’s blood.
From 1984-97, he cut his coaching teeth in the collegiate ranks at places like the University of Cincinnati and Indiana University.
His brother, Jim, resurrected the University of San Diego program before moving on to lead a once-floundering Stanford team to an Orange Bowl victory last year.
And, Jack, his father, spent 41 years coaching college ball, evening winning the 2002 Division I-AA championship as head coach at Western Kentucky.
Needless to say, John is passionate about the sanctity of the game, and in light of the Fiesta Bowl scandal that rocked the sport this week, he is staunchly in favor of a playoff system.
“College athletics are one of the greatest things in the world,” Harbaugh told BaltimoreRavens.com Wednesday.  “It’s great for students, great for student athletes, great for education.
“All of this money that college athletics generates, it’s going in the hands of a basically corrupt bowl system. It’s all about supporting this bowl system. 
“I’m an advocate of the playoff system.”
The Fiesta Bowl’s status in the BCS is now under question after President and CEO John Junker was fired for excessive spending on Fiesta Bowl employees, politicians and business associates.
Junker’s ouster comes on the heels of a 276-page report from Fiesta Bowl investigators and a former Arizona State Supreme Court justice that was posted on the bowl’s official website, fiestabowl.org. 
Now, BCS leaders said they will appoint a task force to review the report and decide whether/how to punish the bowl moving forward.
“If this isn’t evidence that it’s time to change the system, then I don’t know what is,” Harbaugh said.  “I’m a big believer in college athletics, but this is an example of what’s wrong in college athletics.  We don’t have a playoff system because of this.  That money should be going to the schools.  One hundred percent of that money should be going to support the programs. 
“It shouldn’t be going into the hands of a bowl system that, as we’ve seen, has issues and flaws.”
College football has weighed heavy on Harbaugh’s mind recently, considering the Ravens’ leader is waist-deep in hundreds of hours of collegiate game tape to prepare for the NFL Draft.
While watching the film, Harbaugh noted that in college football games, players participate in more plays per game because the clock stops so often.  At the professional level, teams typically take about 70 snaps each per game, compared to at least 90 in college.
Adjusting the timing could cut down on the potential for injury and could allow for extra games to be added to the 13- or 14-game schedule for bowl teams.
“One of the criticisms of [the playoff system] is that people say there are too many plays in the game, which leaves more of a risk for injury,” said Harbaugh.   “The timing system in college football is different than the pros.  They play 90-plus plays a side.  That’s well over 200 plays in the college game. 
“If they ran the pro system of timing, it would come down to around 140 to 170.  They’re already basically playing a 16-game season in college football [in terms of number of plays].  That’s a bogus argument.”
In addition, schools often have to pay to participate in bowl games and can lose money as a result, which Harbaugh believes “is just not right.”
At the end of the day, Harbaugh is simply confident a playoff can work for colleges. 
After all, Jack Harbaugh needed to win playoff games to finish 12-3 and first in Division I-AA.
“I know the playoffs were one of the greatest experiences those players, coaches and fans at Western Kentucky ever had when my Dad was there,” said Harbaugh.  “Why shouldn’t the major college players, coaches, and fans have the same opportunity?”

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