THE ANNUAL (and annually growing) glut of bowl games left college football fans feeling more than usually dyspeptic this year. After all that time, effort and cheddar popcorn, the burning question of New Year's Day was left unanswered: Who is in fact the No. 1 team in the country?
Is it Colorado, the choice of the Associated Press poll of sportswriters? Or Georgia Tech, named No. 1 in the United Press International poll of college head coaches? Or might it be Miami, the pick of The New York Times' computer, into which all sorts of data are fed, except, apparently, that having to do with insufferable behavior? In the absence of anyone with an undefeated, untied record, the answer might as well be left up to a national poll of metaphysicians.
Colorado's Buffaloes, having never won a national championship in anything other than skiing, could have been the sentimental favorites. But they won one key game this year because officials mistakenly gave them a fifth down, and their climactic victory in the Orange Bowl Tuesday night was clouded by a disputed referee's call that deprived Notre Dame of the winning touchdown in the final seconds. Georgia Tech didn't lose all year, but it was tied once, and some said it didn't play enough tough teams. Miami was an impressive winner over Texas in the Cotton Bowl, but the Hurricanes lost twice during the regular season, and their behavior on the field Tuesday was so awful (for starters, they had 202 yards in penalties, mostly for unsportsmanlike conduct and personal fouls) that it was denounced by their home-town press and university president.
As usually happens when the No. 1 question is left unanswered, there were calls this week for a system of playoffs to decide the question of college football supremacy. It's possible that could be accomplished without extending the season halfway into the second semester and playing even more havoc with academic schedules, but don't bet on it. College and university presidents are feeling pressure to deal with a lot of important issues in college football these days, but, thank heavens, who's No. 1 isn't one of them.