In the days after Penn State's 24-23 loss to Iowa, I noticed a change over the individuals I encountered.
An elderly man I see every Monday morning around 7 o'clock at the Altoona Hospital seemed jubilant over the last three months with each stride towards the hopes of a possible third national championship for the Nittany Lions.
After Penn State's lone defeat, he was dour, his face reflecting more years than his age. One would think he was stopping by for something more harrowing than a routine blood test.
It's strange how sports can have that effect on people.
The jubilation of victory and the bitterness of defeat is one of the greatest elements of our culture, where people can be truly united by emotion, and a single cause all over a field of adults playing a children's game.
If sports are a reflection of our American culture, with smaller defining moments that echo our larger national issues - from Branch Rickey's signing of Jackie Robinson to the U.S. hockey team's win over the Soviets in 1980, to the adoption of Title IX - a change in how we decide a national champion in college football is long overdue.
We can debate the different methods to improve our electoral college, or how to make our media more ''fair and balanced.'' Yet somehow, we've allowed a major part of the sports landscape to remain unfair.
From politics to media, we clamor for a more honest representation of our lives, so why not our sports teams?
A playoff system already exists for collegiate basketball, baseball and even hockey but not yet football, which clearly is a cash cow for the NCAA.
Bowl committees, sponsors, university administrators and the NCAA continue to stonewall the issue behind discussions over whether it would hurt the importance of the regular season, take time away from students for finals, professionalize the college sport even more and, of course, the financial ties the NCAA has to the bowl games.
Yet these same people who resist change make out like bandits from the whole deal at the expense of both the fans and the student-athletes, who are the backbone of the entire system.
Penn State fans would still be disappointed after their last-second defeat at Iowa, but they know full well the feeling of being cheated out of a championship after a perfect season in 1994.
Now that Texas Tech has lost to Oklahoma, the Red Raiders will surely be out of the running, but I think they are still deserving of a shot at the national title.
The same goes for USC, which except for a horrid game against Oregon State, has been as impressive as anybody in 2008. No one, including Alabama, is the powerhouse that the BCS tends to deem undefeated teams from ''stronger'' conferences. This has been the case the last few seasons, and no matter who wins the BCS title game at the Orange Bowl on Jan. 8, questions will linger, and we'll all feel a bit cheated.
President-elect Barack Obama recently stated during a halftime interview on Monday Night Football, and again on CBS's 60 Minutes, that he supported an eight-team playoff format to decide the national championship.
If his success has taught our country anything, it's that unfair standards of success and years of disappointment can be overcome in an instant.
When the NCAA finally decides to forego the BCS system is anybody's guess, but with the aroma of change still fresh in my nostrils, one can dream of a unanimous, fairly decided champion of college football.
Hunter Karns of Altoona is a senior at Penn State Altoona majoring in both English and Communications. This is his first submission to Voice of the Fan.