For those in college athletics for whom winning is not enough - the poll souls - comes a notion that merits attention. It is a better way to determine No. 1 in semiamateur football, until television demands a national-championship tournament.

As the fellow who devised the system asks: "Because we are dealing with college sports, how about a college-type grading system? So John Taladays idea requires some thought, but is not so complex that fans, players and even the pollsters - coaches and writers - cannot grasp it rather quickly.

It begins with a premise, that who you beat is more important than simply winning.

It begins with a premise, that who you beat is more important that simply winning.

Most seasons end, after the bowls, with four or five teams with the same records. Everyone devoted to each of those teams claims the national championship - which isnt all bad - and insists the others clobbered a collection of Twinkies.

Taladay allows us to separate the Titans from the Twinkies. His system uses the polls each week and rewards winning and penalizes losing. But a team is given more credit for beating a superior team - and also hurt more for losing to an inferior team.

Heres how the idea works: [TABLE OMITTED ]

"Thus if team X defeats team Y and team Y is ranked in the first five of that weeks poll, team X earns four points, "Taladay said." If team X happens to be ranked below the top 20, team Y would be assessed minus four points for losing.

"We thus establish a mathematical basis for judging teams, beginning with the first week of play. Obviously, as the standings change from week to week, so will the number of points assigned change, reflecting the up or down fortunes of the teams.

"The national champion is the team that has accumulated the most points at the end of the year."

This system becomes more valid each year, because college football is not the near-total geographical game of years past, when teams played their neighbors until the bowls. The airplane and television have made intersectional games quite attractive.

Alabama, rated No. 1 in the preseason poll released by the Associated Press Saturday plays Nebraska, Missouri, Southern Cal and Washington in addition to its Southeastern Conference schedule.

In 1982, Penn State plays Texas A & M, Nebraska, Missouri, Alabama and Notre Dame.

A weighted-schedule system would make quality schools play one another more often. It would tend to keep Woody Hayes, for instance, from playing the dregs of the Southwest Conference and Big Ten and then insisting he has the best team in the land if Ohio State beats Michigan and wins the Rose Bowl.

It is possible, in fact likely, that two or more teams still would be tied for No. 1 even after the bowl games. Taladay has the answer, with what he calls quality points. This is the usual points times the point differential of the winning team in each bowl game.

For instance, Notre Dame and Penn State were wo of the five teams that ended the bowl season with 11.1 records. Notre Dame beat a top-five team, Texas, by 28 points in the Cotton Bowl. Penn State beat a fourth-five team, Arizona State, by 12 in the Fiesta Bowl.

Under the Taladay method, Notre Dame would have received 112 points, or its four grade points times the game point differential. State would have gotten 12. Alabama and Arkanas fans can recall their team's fate under the same method.

The quality-point system might well be best for regular-season use, as it would eliminate the constant clutter at the top the first few weeks.

Taladay is a Rockville, Md., group supervisor in data processing - and he showed a slight streak of naivete when he said the quality-point method might not be good during the season because it would encourage teams to run up the score too often.

It would be no more of an incentive than already exists. The teams that need to run up the score to influence the AP and UPI voters run it up. Sorry, they tell the poor opponent: you understand.

The lingering memory of the Cotton Bowl was standing on the Notre Dame sideline after an Irish victory was assured.But Dan Devine had most of his regular defenders still on the field - and as Ross Browner, Willie Fry and a quarter-ton of others crushed the Texas quarterback a nearby priest said: "We . . . buried his . . ."