Joe Paterno was happy to see Tom Osborne win his first national title. However, neither is pleased with the system that determines the football champion.
Osborne’s Nebraska Cornhuskers (13-0) were the overwhelming choice as champions Tuesday in The Associated Press and USA Today-CNN polls. Penn State (12-0) was second, the fourth time a Paterno team went undefeated and didn’t win the title.
Both coaches said they wished their teams could have met on the field.
“I’d love to play Nebraska and I think they’d love to play us,” Paterno said. “I’m a competitor and I love to be involved in big football games. It would be great for college football.”
Like Paterno, Osborne favors a playoff.
“I just wish the people in college football would come up with a system where if we do have two undefeated teams, they could put them together,” Osborne said.
Under the current system, that wasn’t possible.
Big Eight champion Nebraska was obligated to play in the Orange Bowl, where it beat Miami 24-17, and Big Ten winner Penn State was committed to the Rose Bowl, where it defeated Oregon 38-20.
So the decision was left to poll voters, who saw no reason to remove Nebraska from the No. 1 spot it held going into the bowls.
“We’re honored to be the No. 1 team,” Osborne said. “It was a privilege to work with a bunch of players committed to one goal.”
Paterno said Penn State and Nebraska both deserved to win the title.
“I feel very happy for Tom Osborne and a great Nebraska team, and I feel just as happy and pleased about my great football team,” he said. “The system is what it is and we can live with it, but nobody’s going to take away the fact that I have a national championship football team.”
His players weren’t so diplomatic.
“I think it’s a crime that it’s decided by a bunch of sports writers and not on the field,” fullback Brian Milne said. “I think in the near future, there should be some way if two undefeated teams end up the way we did, that there is some way to resolve it.
“We accomplished all the goals we had to. The only goal we didn’t accomplish wasn’t in our control.”
Alamo Bowl-winning Washington State was 19th in the USA Today-CNN poll and 21st in the AP poll.
MEMO: A sidebar appeared with this story under the headline ” AP Top 25.”
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