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Playoffs? Arguing is more fun

John Steigerwald
| Sunday, Nov. 9, 2008, 12:00 p.m.

Think of all the fun that Penn State football fans will be missing.

Forget missing out on the fun that goes with playing for a national "championship" because of the loss to Iowa Saturday. That's nothing.

Imagine how much fun it would have been if the Nits had finished 12-0 and ranked no better than third in the BCS poll behind two undefeated teams. I've had lots of smart people tell me that we don't need a playoff to determine the Division I college football championship because it's a lot more fun to argue about who should be ranked where at the end of the season based on computers, voters and calculations of real live rocket scientists.

The crazy people who think that watching teams actually playing football is more fun than arguing about whom should be playing whom are just party poopers. I like the arguing so much that I root every year for at least three teams to go undefeated. I'd have even more fun if four or five teams did it. Oh, well, there's always next year.

* If you're one of those people who hasn't gotten on board with the NCAA's system of overtime to decide football games, would you have preferred a tie between Pitt and Notre Dame last week in South Bend?

* Apparently, our president-elect is a party pooper. When asked by ESPN's Chris Berman at halftime of Monday night's Steelers-Redskins game, what one thing in sports he would like to change, Barack Obama said he would like to see a playoff to determine the college football championship. Now that he's about to be president, maybe Mr. Obama can bring his "spread the wealth around" theory to sports. Is it really fair that the Penguins get to have both Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin• In the NHL and Major League Baseball there is revenue sharing but wealth is measured in how many great players you have. Shouldn't the teams in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Boston have their real wealth spread around to places like Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Kansas City. Come on. Let's be neighborly.

* Barack Obama may already be having an effect on major professional sports. In Miami, Dolphin owner Wayne Huizenga says he'll probably sell the team before capital gains taxes are raised and baseball super agent Scott Boras says he may insist on much bigger signing bonuses for free agents this year because he wants them to have their money stashed away before taxes go up.

* Is Ben Roethlisberger holding on to the ball too long• His head coach seems to think so.

Uh, oh.

Quarterbacks who thrive on their ability to improvise are in trouble when their coaches start trying to rein them in. Ask Kordell Stewart. He was the best running quarterback in NFL history before Mike Vick came along and his career was ruined by his head coach and offensive coordinators. One of those coordinators, Kevin Gilbride, was known to scold him after long runs for not throwing to the open receiver. Lots of Roethlisberger's sacks are the result of him moving around in the pocket in hopes of making a big play. If the coaches get into his head and discourage him from doing that, there will be fewer sacks and even fewer big plays. They'll turn Big Ben into Kerry Collins. In his last full game, he threw four interceptions. That was also the game that he played without his deep threat receiver, Santonio Holmes. When you have a quarterback who likes to improvise and he's forced to play behind an average offensive line with a depleted receiving corps, chances are he's going to improvise himself into trouble.

Again, ask Kordell Stewart.

The Steelers coaching staff is going to have to be careful. The first five games of the season Roethlisberger was the best quarterback in the NFL. He got there by leaving the pocket and taking chances. The Steelers win total will be directly affected by how much Ben's coaches are willing to leave him alone.

* Are the Detroit Lions the worst major professional sports franchise in American history• The Pirates may be able to lay claim to being the worst since 1992, but the Lions, who are 0-8, have won one playoff game in the last 50 years.Think about that for a minute. That's one playoff win since Sputnik. If you don't know what Sputnik was, then you proved my point. Look it up.

* Back in August, I had planned to predict that, in Week 9 of the NFL season, the Cincinnati Bengals would be 1-8 and the Tennessee Titans would be 8-0, but I forgot.

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