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updated: 1/10/2011 11:36 AM

The solution to college bowl apathy

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Remember when New Year's Day used to mean something in the world of college football?

Remember when you cared about how a title contender fared in the Sugar Bowl because it directly affected the other contender in the Orange Bowl? Or the Rose Bowl? Or the Cotton Bowl?

Yes, Jan. 1 used to be the ultimate day for college athletics.

But after years and years of fans and pundits bemoaning the fact that we so rarely got to see the best two teams play each other, the powers that be created the Boring Championship Series.

Now, we yawn our way through the bowl season, barely caring what happens in any game because none of them truly matter until the BCS title game. How many of you are truly geeked about tonight's Auburn-Oregon matchup ... NINE DAYS after New Year's Day?

While spreading the big games out for a week seemed like a good idea initially -- great teams all week! -- those contests are just getting lost in the white noise of the never-ending bowl season.

Ratings are down. Ticket sales are down. Interest is down.

We need a revolution.

And I have the solution.

First of all, we don't need a playoff system. To me, that ruins how exciting some of the biggest regular-season games are like Ohio State-Michigan, Ohio State-Wisconsin, Auburn-Alabama or Florida-LSU.

Those games need to matter ... a lot. Lose and your title hopes are almost shot.

What the NCAA needs to do is to play the bowls the way they were played in the '70s and '80s. This year, they would have looked something like this (records before the bowl games):

Rose: Wisconsin (11-1) vs. Oregon (12-0)

Sugar: Auburn (13-0) vs. Stanford (11-1)

Orange: TCU (12-0) vs. Oklahoma (11-2)

Fiesta: Ohio State (11-1) vs. Arkansas (10-2)

Now imagine that New Year's Day slate. What a day of football!

So, how do we crown a champ? Simple: After the games are over, take the top two teams in the AP poll (or the USA Today/ESPN poll) and play 1 vs. 2 the next week.

Problems solved.

Now all the games matter. And the more impressive your team's victory on Jan. 1, the better chance you have to play in the title game.

Is this system perfect? No, but neither is the one devised now.

What is does, though, is it gets the casual fan interested again and returns New Year's Day to what it should be -- a smorgasbord of all the elite college football teams playing on the same day.

Also, please take the ESPN monopoly away and spread the TV rights around again so you can have two or three TVs tuned in to two or three bowl games at a time.

Yes, my friends, we can have our cake and eat it too. We just need the NCAA to use a few shreds of common sense and implement this simple plan.

The excitement will return. The fans will return.

And college football's greatest day will once again return to being everything it can -- and should -- be.