RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
The big day for college football's regular season is tomorrow with games that will decide who will play for the national championship in January, which teams get bids to lucrative bowl game, and most importantly, to commentator John Feinstein, the day brings a winner of the 108th Army/Navy game.
Good morning, John.
JOHN FEINSTEIN: Good morning, Renee.
MONTAGNE: We'll get to that Army/Navy game in a moment. But is it possible for you to explain the national championship game scenarios to us and say, like, a minute. Sorry that's all we've got.
(Soundbite of laughter)
MONTAGNE: Go for it.
FEINSTEIN: I'll try. It can be very simple. If Missouri beats Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship game and West Virginia beats its archrival Pittsburgh, Missouri and West Virginia will play for the national championship. But based on the way this season has gone, someone's going to lose. And that's when the flood gates come open. Ohio State will move up to the championship game, if one of the schools loses. But if both West Virginia and Missouri lose, then there are four or five schools that can lay claim to that second spot in the national title game. So if we have Missouri and West Virginia winning, it's simple. If they lose, then who knows who's going to play in the championship game.
MONTAGNE: And does, who knows, translate to complete chaos?
FEINSTEIN: Complete chaos, which is part of the problem with this system. Because who played in championship game should, of course, be determined strictly on the field. But in this system, if there are a bunch of teams that have one loss, or in this case, even two losses, then it's computers who decide, it's sportswriters who decide - God forbid. It's even people who aren't involved in sports who vote in one of the polls who help decide. And that's why, as I said, I don't know, 10 million times, college football needs a playoff system
MONTAGNE: And what about a way does Hawaii, which is the only undefeated team among the 119 teams in Division 1A. Where does Hawaii stand in all this?
FEINSTEIN: That's very good question. They play Washington tomorrow night, and if they finish undefeated, they will get into one of the prestigious BCS bowls with the big money payout that you mention. But they had no chance to play in the national championship game even though they're undefeated because, according to those who run college football, they don't play in a powerful-enough conference to merit that opportunity, even if they're undefeated. Think about this, Renee, there's no sport in the world including tiddlywinks where you can go undefeated in something and not have the opportunity to play for a championship.
MONTAGNE: So its tomorrow, all the games are over. We still have to wait until Sunday afternoon to find out who plays whom in all the various bowls.
FEINSTEIN: Exactly, and all of that will come out late Sunday afternoon. The bowl championship series will announce their five bowl game starting with the national championship game, and then everything will eventually fall into place fairly or unfairly after that.
MONTAGNE: Okay, for you now, John, Army/Navy. It won't decide the national championship in any way, but it's your favorite football game.
FEINSTEIN: It is because of who plays in the game, and it doesn't decide national championships anymore. It hasn't since the early 1960s. But it is the hardest played rivalry in all of college sports, I believe. And when you think about the times we're living in right now, with most of the seniors facing the possibility of being at war within six months; when you think about how much the game means to the players who play in it, the fact that they will not be professional football players in 999 out of 1,000 cases, it's very - it's a very special game every year regardless of the records. Navy's had a good year. You know, they beat Notre Dame, but the Army Seniors had never beaten Navy. So it will be a remarkable scene, as it always is, in Baltimore tomorrow, not Philadelphia this year.
MONTAGNE: Okay, so tomorrow big day in a lot of ways actually. John, thanks much.
FEINSTEIN: Thank you, Renee.
MONTAGNE: The comments of John Feinstein. He's author of "A Civil War: A Year Inside Army Vs. Navy College Football's Purest Rivalry."
This is NPR News.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.