All the pols have chosen Notre Dame as the best college football team in the country.

A demented Duke University alumnus takes exception.

"Coach Mike McGee of Duke graciously accepts the national championship trophy," the Duke man said yesterday.

Any fool, even one from Chapel Hill, ought to be able to see the sense of this, the Duke man said.

"Duke beat Georgia Tech, and Georgia Tech beat Mississippi, and Mississippi beat Notre Dame," the man said.

Well, that takes care of Notre Dame.

"And Notre Dame beat Texas, and Texas beat Arkansas and Oklahoma, and Oklahoma beat Nebraska, and Nebraska beat Alabama."

Obviously, those teams couldn't carry Duke's shoes.

"Coach McGee deserves a five-year contract for this accomplishment," the Duker said.

This has been a long and hard football season. Woody Hayes threw more punches than Muhammad Ali. When Mississippi beat Notre Dame, people wanted to throw Dan Devine off the Golden Dome. Now they want to melt it down and make it into a car for him. This was the year the Heisman Trophy quit being a hunk of metal and became Connie Stevens. If the Duker is bonkers, he's not alone.

For instance, a lot of people still like the college bowl games. They think the games are meaningful, so meaningful, in fact, that a national championship can be determined in one afternoon of festival gaiety. Quite the contrary.All the bowl games do is leave us wondering.

We wonder if Notre Dame is that good or if Texas simply forgot what game it was playing and tried to dribble the cursed ball. Is Alabama the next thing to perfection? If Arkansas left three players at home, did Oklahoma leave 30?

What we need is a national championship playoff system. The National Collegiate Athletic Association's member universities compete in 18 sanctioned sports; 17 of them determine a national championship with a tournament at season's end. Only Division I football is left to the eccentricities of polls of sportswriters and coaches.

There are a lot of reasons for that.

All of them are preceeded by $$$$$.

The universities say they cannot put in a playoff system because it would be unfair to the existing bowl-game structure. For decades, the schools say, the bowls have been loyal to the schools. A playoff system would destroy the bowls. So the universities consistently have turned down any attempts to create a national tournament.

They're given a lot of reasons. They owe it to the bowls, they say. The players' classwork would suffer with any extension of an already too-long season, they say.

What they mean is that they're making so much money from the bowl games that its a foolish gambel to tamper with the system.

Yet the system is heavy with frustration. Who is the champ? The real champ, not a paper lion. if Marquette University, didn't have the best college basketball team in the land last March it did have the distinction of winning the NCAA Tournament. And no one from, say Kentucky, went around moaning about he way things are.

Here's what Fred Akers, the Texas football coach said yesterday: "I don't think they're better than we are." He spoke of Notre Dame, a 38-10 winner over Texas in the Cotton Bowl. The victory moved Notre Dame from No. 5 to No. 1 and dropped Texas from the top to fourth place, thouhgh both teams had 11-1 won-lost records.

"It's very indicative in that people (the pollsters, presumably) only remember the last game you played," Asker said. "I've heard it said many times that if you're going to lose, lose early.People have short memories."

If the colleges acknowledge the importance of a national champion - and they do in 17 of 18 sports - and will lust always for the big bucks of the bowl games, they clearly need a playoff system that preserves the integrity of the traditional bowls. As luck would have it, the broad outline of such a system will be explained in the next few paragraphs. No charge.

It would be an eight-team tournament. Sixteen teams would be stretching the quality of the field. The eight would play first-round games in the major bowls as they now exist, retaining today's contractual ties.

That means the Big 10 champion would meet the Pacific-8 winner in the Rose Bowl, the Southeastern Conference would go to the Sugar Bowl against an at-large team, and at-large teams would facing the Big Eight in the Orange Bowl and the Southwest in the Cotton Bowl.

Winners would advance to semifinals games the next week. They would play a doubleheader in the Astrodome, with the winners meeting in the Louisiana Superdrome the week before pro football's Super Bowl.

Walter Byers, the executive director of the NCAA, while careful to say such a decision is up to a vote by the member schools, is on record in favor of a football tournament. But he also says it won't happen in his lifetime, so strong are the bowl-game ties.

Well, one of these days a television executive is going to notice that the weekend before the Super Bowl has no football other than a couple of raggedy all-star games. He's going to pile money real high in front of the NCAA members and say let's have a tournament. They say, when do you want to start?