Coach Joe Paterno of top-ranked, undefeated Penn State thinks the best way to settle college football's annual national championship debate is with a post-bowl playoff involving four teams.

Paterno, whose team is playing No. 4 Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 1, said: "Absolutely, we ought to be doing in our sport what we do in every other sport under NCAA auspices. 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."

Three times before, in 1969, 1970 and 1974, Penn State has taken perfect a record into the Orange Bowl. Each time, the Nittany Lions won the game and then saw other teams crowned national champions.

"I hate to see anybody voted out of a national championship," Paterno said. "It's happened to me three times. I felt if we had played (the teams that finished No. 1) on the field, we'd have won."

Paterno's plan would not eliminate the bowls. "They must be included. They've been too good to college football," he said. "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." . . .

John Organ, head football coach at Bowie State College for the last 10 years, has resigned from that position, college President James Lyons announced.

Organ, 49, says he also plans to step down from his position as athletic director at the conclusion of the spring sports seasons. As football coach, he compiled a record of 21-76-1, but went 0-20 over the last two years and 1-29 over the last three.

Organ cited lack of support from the administration as the reason for his decision. Lyons, however, said that a new commitment to athletics, and football in particular, would be made by the college. Lyons said he would recommend dropping the football program if it failed to achieve a .500 record within three years. . . .

Rice football Coach Watson Brown, a Tennessee native, said he would meet with Vanderbilt officials about the prospects of returning to his alma mater as coach to replace George MacIntyre, who resigned. Rice President George E. Rupp gave Vanderbilt officials permission to talk to Brown about the coaching vacancy at the Southeastern Conference school . . .

Being chosen as a coach for the U.S. Olympic team is "a goal I've always had," says University of Texas track coach Stan Huntsman, one of three Texas coaches who will be part of the 1988 team. Huntsman and women's track coach Terry Crawford were selected to coach the U.S. track teams for the games in Seoul, South Korea. They join women's swimming coach Richard Quick, who will head the U.S. men and women swimmers.