When the bowl alliance turned into the Bowl Championship Series in 1998, experts thought that a national champion could be easily determined.

For the first two years it held true. Last season, however, much debate was sparked when Miami was denied its chance for the Orange Bowl, despite having a regular-season victory over Florida State, who faced Oklahoma in the National Championship game.

So, instead of overhauling the system, these computer jocks decided to fine-tune the BCS formula and make it fairer.

But no matter how in-depth this computer formula becomes, debates will always arise.

I do, however, applaud the BCS system for creating a national-championship game. That is the first step in fixing the problems to determine college football’s national champion.

But the second step is to create a pseudo-March Madness single-elimination tournament for college football.

Imagine this: an eight-team playoff, with each team having an equal chance to become the national champion. Seldom seen matchups, such as Nebraska vs. Tennessee and Florida vs.Oklahoma, would be commonplace in the college-football tournament.

The top eight teams would be selected via the BCS system. The first round would take place at the end of December, with the teams playing in either the Sugar, Gator, Citrus or Cotton bowls. The winners of the first round will face off in either the Fiesta or Orange Bowl on New Year’s Day. In the following week, the national championship will be determined in the Rose Bowl.

Fine, there might be some debate about who should be in the Top Eight, but at least it would be up to these eight teams to decide for themselves who is the worthy national champion, rather than a computer.

The problem with the BCS lies within judging the caliber of teams. A decent team with an easy schedule can coast its way to the national championship game. A great team, however, with a difficult schedule must have a remarkable season to win the Sears Trophy.

Take this season, for example. I can just see it happening. Miami, for one, has not been tested. I know: They defeated Florida State. But the Seminoles are a very young team, and until three weeks ago they were playing terrible football. They seemed to have matured mid-season after losing to the Hurricanes. If FSU and Miami were to play this week, it would be a truly different game.

Other than that, the ?Canes have played nobody. Virginia Tech remains on their schedule, but the Hokies have been embarrassed in consecutive weeks. Washington will play the Hurricanes on Nov. 24, but the Huskies are not the same Rose Bowl championship team from a year before. They barely came away with wins against teams they should have rolled over. (Beat Cal 31-28, USC 27-24, Arizona 31-28 and Arizona State 33-31.)

Playing Boston College this week would likely be Miami’s biggest test of the season up to this point, but conveniently, BC running back and the nation’s leading rusher (145.5 yards per game) William Green is suspended from the game for breaking team rules.

Really, the biggest test Miami has is the Nov. 17 game against Syracuse. Granted, the Orangemen are having an impressive season, but beating Big East teams is not necessarily a noteworthy accomplishment.

The Hurricanes are likely going to roll their way into the Rose Bowl this season, while teams who are far superior, such as Texas, Florida and Tennessee, will likely not have a chance at the Sears Trophy. This is because of a single blemish on their respective records, since they play in the toughest conferences in the nation ? Big XII and SEC.

Maybe I’m wrong. Perhaps coaches and the Associated Press are right: Miami is the best team in the nation. But a playoff system would eliminate any doubt that a naysayer, such as myself, would have.

And hey, with a tournament, even undefeated BYU would have a chance to show they are not just a team with a joke schedule. Oh wait, they are No. 13 in the BCS standings. I guess that’s another column idea.