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COLLEGE PLAN IS CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN

Fast food for thought . . .

The NCAA board of directors is scheduled to vote today on whether to permit football teams to add a 12th game to their schedules. Meanwhile, the governing body for college sports remains opposed to a football playoff system because it puts undue strain on student-athletes. Are they kidding? Let's say there's an eight-team playoff for the national title. The bowl game these teams already play reduces the field to four. The 12th game the NCAA is proposing reduces the field to two. That means 150 players at two schools would play an extra week. And for this we're leaving the crowning of a national champion to voters and computers?

By the way, it's really no big deal for the college football coaches to consider releasing their final poll ballot of the season. They can still manipulate the BCS lineup and maintain anonymity, as was the case last year when Texas suddenly vaulted over Cal but no one knew who'd changed their votes.

Nice to see the NFL and its players' union quickly and peacefully agreeing to increase their list of banned performance-enhancing substances and the frequency of testing. It's impressive what a league can accomplish when it has a strong, respected commissioner.

Why is it every time expert physicians tell Joe Mesi to give it up, his response is, in so many words, "Over my dead body"? I mean, that's what he's saying, isn't it?

The Bills draft confirms what I've said all along: Drew Bledsoe was operating without a full array of weapons, especially after Bobby Shaw was banished so Mike Mularkey could make a point.

I've been a Miami Heat follower since it drafted Dwyane Wade, but my pleasure's doubled with Alonzo Mourning back healthy, contributing and donning the best scowl in the game. He could be the reason the Heat wins it all.

Playoff hockey is mesmerizing. So why doesn't the NHL try to duplicate that atmosphere during the regular season? Why not schedule three-game series within the conference and give the winner an extra point or two in the standings? That's what we're after, isn't it, heightened drama? Inject regular-season games with added importance, and the NHL's other faults become less pronounced. Plus, then there's even a chance of getting your money's worth.

Former Crag Burn pro Lonnie Nielsen ranks 66th on golf's Champions Tour with earnings of $42,681 in three events. Not bad for someone with a provisional tour card. Those behind him include Raymond Floyd, Jim Colbert and Hubert Green, all of whom have played in more tournaments.

Here's hoping the American Basketball Association can make a go of it here, but I'm skeptical. The league isn't exactly awash in household names, and Buffalo's always been quick to turn its back on second-tier leagues once the novelty factor vanishes.

Tom Donahoe is right to retain Travis Henry until the asking price is met. Tampa Bay ended up getting third- and sixth-round picks for disgruntled holdout Keenan McCardell late last season, and receivers are in greater supply than proven running backs. Patience has its rewards. Plus, it could be Henry discouraging potential suitors by insisting on an overvalued contract extension.

You have to admire John Daly's preparations before his playoff against Vijay Singh in the Houston Open. I mean, what better than five drags on a cigarette to sharpen your game? That's the thing with Daly. He's beloved in large part for his foibles, and maintaining that folksy image is far more lucrative in the long run than winning a golf tournament. You don't see anyone else making public appearances at the Augusta Hooters during Masters week.
e-mail: bdicesare@buffnews.com