No one was more skeptical of Brigham Young’s claim to the national championship last year than Oklahoma Coach Barry Switzer.
“I’ve suffered greatly for that,” he said. “BYU named a new facility in Midland, Utah, after me. Now when my grandchildren travel out west they can see the Barry Switzer Sewage Treatment Plant.”
Penn State Coach Joe Paterno would like to settle the national championship with a postseason playoff.
“We ought to be doing in our sport what we do in every other sport under NCAA auspices,” Paterno said. “The 1,500-meter swimming championship is decided head-to-head. Wrestling, lacrosse, soccer, volleyball, gymnastics. You wouldn’t have people looking at gymnasts in different parts of the country and then voting on who’s the best.
“What I would do is take four teams after the bowls, based on computer ratings, power indexes or maybe selected by a media panel, and on the first Saturday after New Year’s, have them play semifinals and a week later the finals.
“That would give two teams 14 games and two teams 13 games. They’re doing it in Division I-AA, Division II and Division III, playing 14 games. We could do the same.”
Paterno said players wouldn’t miss class time because most schools are still on winter break at that time of the year.
“I’d like to see somebody do a survey of all sports to see which ones lose the least amount of class time,” he said. “Basketball teams in the middle of school go to Utah and stay for two weeks. During the season, we miss maybe one class on Friday. Some kids don’t miss any.”
Paterno said he would not be in favor of any playoff plan that would eliminate the bowls.
“They must be included,” he said. “They’ve been too good to college football.”
Before they met, Switzer had little regard for one another.
Paterno said six years ago that he wouldn’t retire because that would leave college coaching to the Barry Switzers and Jackie Sherrills.
But since they’ve gotten to know each other, Paterno and Switzer have become friends.
Now they laugh about Paterno’s remark.
At the Orange Bowl Coaches and Hall of Honor luncheon last week in Miami, the emcee, Roy Firestone of Los Angeles, introduced them.
“There were some reports a couple of weeks ago that said Joe and Barry didn’t get along,” Firestone said. “That’s a total misnomer. They are the best of friends. I have a telegram sent to them that proves this. It reads: ‘Glad to see you’re taking our lead and getting along. Signed, Al Davis, Pete Rozelle.’ ”
Later, Paterno said: “I really like Barry.”
Replied Switzer: “I appreciate that. But what do you think of Jackie Sherrill?”
Paterno didn’t answer. He has made it clear in interviews that he still has no use for Sherrill, the coach at Texas A&M.; Paterno won’t elaborate except to say that it’s a personal matter.
At the end of the luncheon, Firestone brought Paterno and Switzer together and said: “I know Phyllis George got in trouble for asking two people to hug on national TV. But I’ll give this a shot. Will you guys shake hands?”