Views on Broncos, BCS, CSU 

End Zone

Since we only have one chance a week to discuss sports in this forum, and the plate is overflowing with so many football-related topics and issues worth addressing, let's break this one into three pieces and make the most of it.

Denver Broncos. When they were 1-4, nobody envisioned the Broncos being 7-5 today, atop the AFC West standings. Yet here they are, with five road victories and a very realistic path to the playoffs, quarterback Tim Tebow being mentioned as an MVP candidate (sorry, but my vote still would go to Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers), and head coach John Fox possibly the league's Coach of the Year.

We have to be realistic here: Denver has been lucky. Week after week, opponents have had injuries to key players (such as Minnesota's Adrian Peterson) and/or have made game-turning mistakes, enough that the Broncos now have to feel they're destined for more. Sure, Tebow has come along admirably, and he has avoided throwing interceptions (just one this season). But veteran runner Willis McGahee has been more valuable, delivering six 100-yard games.

Certainly, Denver could capture the AFC West, with three winnable games in the last four (Chicago and New England at home, at Buffalo, then home against Kansas City). Since Oakland goes to Green Bay this weekend, Denver could beat Chicago and have a one-game-plus-tiebreaker lead.

So if you're a Broncos fan, enjoy the ride while it lasts.

Bowl Championship Series. Once again, we have computer programs and minuscule decimals deciding the matchup for the national championship, giving us yet another strong argument for a playoff system in major-college football.

You can argue all day, convincingly, that Alabama deserves to face Louisiana State. At the same time, others can argue just as persuasively that Oklahoma State should play LSU. It's wrong not to decide that question on the field.

Already, the BCS godfathers have tinkered with their format, adding an extra game and allowing some non-BCS teams to enjoy the big-money bonanza. So why not take the next step and create two semifinals and a grand finale along with the other BCS bowls?

Sure, all of us playoff supporters would prefer to see a tournament with eight or 16 teams. But what would be wrong with, let's say, LSU vs. Oregon in one semifinal (the Ducks did win at Stanford), and Oklahoma State vs. Alabama in the other, with those winners advancing to the championship?

That would be a palatable interim solution to playoffs, also forcing the best teams to prove themselves twice more. And then, if it turned out to be LSU vs. Alabama, nobody would be able to say a word.

Colorado State. As soon as CSU fired athletic director Paul Kowalczyk last week and replaced him with businessman Jack Graham, it was evident that head coach Steve Fairchild was on his way out. Kowalczyk had hired Fairchild, like Graham an ex-Rams quarterback, and might have wanted to wait another year.

But three consecutive 3-9 seasons will bring down almost any coach, especially when expectations are reasonable. Nobody was demanding that CSU win the Mountain West Conference; regular bowl games would have been sufficient. Yet CSU has developed several alarming annual traits: falling apart in the second half of games, and sliding downhill every October and November. In those two months, over the past three seasons, Fairchild's record was an incredibly abysmal 2-22 — including 0-8 this year.

So the new head coach will inherit a team with lots of experience and a chance to make a quick leap. But who will that coach be? Probably not former Colorado head coach Gary Barnett, who has said he's interested but probably couldn't unite the fans. More likely, CSU might look down the road at CSU-Pueblo head coach John Wristen, who's done a terrific job reviving that dormant program. Then there's Tony Alford, a former CSU running back (1987-90) from Doherty High School in Colorado Springs and now receivers coach at Notre Dame.

Either of those two would be a refreshing hire. And the sooner the better.



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