Fixing College Football

Mark Cuban is admirable for trying to fix college football.

Let’s start with this: It’s broken.

2010 is case in point. In mid-January Oregon will play Auburn in a game labeled “the BCS championship game.” But, if TCU wins the Rose Bowl they deserve to be co-national champions, too. We’ll simply never know who is the best team in the college football in 2010.

This isn’t the first time this has happened. It’s happened a lot in college football. And it’s always the big money conferences shutting out the Little Sisters of the Poor. (As Ohio State president & chairman of the board of the foot-in-mouth council calls them.)

It’s about the money

We all know it. No one believes that it is about the athletes academic calendar… as the NCAA so stupidly claims. They certainly allow a playoff in every other sport, regardless of academic issues.

It’s about TV rights, protecting lesser bowls, visitor bureau’s, guaranteed payouts, conference affiliations, and a whole litany of people who are getting paid on the side.

It’s not about championships

We will never know who the football national champion is until we have a playoff. Why? We are leaving it up to computers and polls and fluke plays to determine who the champion is. Are Auburn and Oregon the best teams right now? Ask Ohio State, Michigan State, and Stanford that question.

Imagine just putting Duke vs. Kansas every year in the finals and calling that a basketball championship? What makes March Madness so fun for the whole country is that we take the best teams and let them decide who the champion is by playing the game.

The solution– Keep all of the bowls; have a 16 team playoff

First, shorten the regular season to 10 games. Then have a conference championship game determine who gets the automatic bid. Allow 5 at-large bids, top 11 conferences get an automatic bid.

That would be: ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big 10, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West, Pac 10, SEC, Sun Belt, and WAC.

Second, identify the top 8 bowls the week of Christmas. Play in a 2 day rotation of 4 games each day.

That would be: Independence Bowl, Little Caesar Bowl, (formerly Motor City Bowl) Las Vegas Bowl, Gator Bowl, Champs Sports Bowl, New Orleans Bowl, New Mexico Bowl, and Holiday Bowl.

Third, the round of 8 would be played on January 1st. The Final 4 would be played the second Saturday of January. These would be the six big games we all love. They’d be competitive and they would mean something. This would make January 1st an incredible day of college football. A rotation of the top 6 bowls would cover these.

That would be: Sugar Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Orange Bowl, Cotton Bowl, Rose Bowl, and Gator Bowl.

Fourth, the championship game would be played the 3rd Saturday of January. (Or, maybe more ideally, the Saturday between the AFC/NFC Championship & Super Bowl game.) I would argue that the game should be played annually in Pasadena at the Rose Bowl. Let’s face it, the Rose Bowl is the most amazing place in college football to play a big game. It’s perfect in every way.

Two ideas for fixing the money problem

  1. Each participating school would earn an equal share of tickets, television, and all other monies paid to the NCAA for the coverage of this, just like in basketball.
  2. The rest of the remaining teams & bowls would be invited to play in the exact same system we already have. That’s 20 bowls left untouched! A 16 team playoff only effects and enhances 15 bowl games. We all know everyone would make more money.

This shows this isn’t just about money. It’s about pride. The SEC, Big 10, Pac 10, Big East, and Big 12 are just plain scared to play teams from other conferences. I don’t know how fans of those conferences can be proud of teams who are afraid to play anyone on any day.


Open Letter to the NCAA

Dear NCAA,

Congratulations on another year of controversy! Congrats to Tim Tebow and the Florida Gators. They are the BCS Champions but not the National Champions. This year we clearly don’t have a National Champion because your system is broken.

Congrats to USC. Congrats to Texas. Congrats to Utah. Congrats to Florida.

Each legitimately claim they are National Champions this year! That’s right, with 5 BCS games, 4 of them ended with a team legitimately and openly claiming they should be the National Champion. (The fifth game played by Cincinnati and Virginia Tech didn’t deserve to be a BCS game. The Holiday Bowl was really the fifth BCS game. Did you watch it? It was a great game! How did the Orange Bowl go? I didn’t hear anything about it. Was it on TV?)

And yet the BCS claims this is somehow fair? Just because the bowls make bucketloads of money doesn’t make them right! It’s time you, the NCAA, kicked the BCS to the curb.

We all know that in every other NCAA Division IA sport there is a playoff. And we also know that in every other division in college football there is a playoff which ends with a national champion. It’s time the players of Division IA determined who the champion will be on the field instead of in a vote.

Here’s are two simple solutions:

Option A: After Thanksgiving weekend take the top 16 teams based on the AP/Coaches polls and put them in a simple bracket based purely on their rankings. #1 plays #16 and so on. With 4 rounds the best team may not win, but the hottest team will. Since win did the #1 team in the AP/Coaches poll win the Division IA basketball championship?

Option B: Set up a system where each of the top 11 conference champions get an automatic bid to the playoff. Then have a committee chose 5 at-large teams and place them in a 16 team bracket. Just to clarify, that’s the Big 10, Big East, Big 12, ACC, Conference USA, Mountain West, MAC, Pac 10, SEC, Sun Belt, and WAC. Yes, that means that teams like Notre Dame don’t get an automatic bid. Tell the Irish to get over the 1960s slight and join the Big 10. How will those conferences determine who is their champion? It seems like most of them are smart enough to figure that out. Playoff. Conference Champion. Rock, paper, scissors, who cares? They pick their best team and you take that.

What about the money? In case you didn’t know… March Madness makes a bucketload of money for everyone involved. Just share it. Champion gets 4 shares. 2nd place 3 shares. Final 4 teams get 2. Everyone else gets 1 share. How is that not fair?

For the bowl games not included in the playoff allow them to pick teams like they do now and have exhibitions. Their fans will still come. They will still be on TV.You know that line of arguement is

What about the big bowls? Do what you do now! Pick 8 bowls to be the Saturday of Christmas. In case you haven’t noticed all of the non-football fans will go to the mall and all of the football fans will stay home and watch TV. You’ve got 4 BCS games on New Years so that’s covered. Then the Championship game could be the weekend between the NFC/AFC Championship and the Super Bowl. I don’t know about a lot of other football fans, but I’m willing to move New Year’s day to line those final 4 games up with the NFL’s schedule. Do we have to talk to Congress about that? Let me know… I know some people over there. President Obama emails me all the time.

It’s about the money! Fair enough… trust me… give us a playoff and it’ll be just as big as March Madness. Rabid fans really will go to 3 bowl games! Ask the guys in Vegas to kick in a few bucks.

Who gets the championship? This is where the fairness ends. Make the championship game the Rose Bowl every year. It really is the grand daddy of them all. The Rose Bowl is beautiful… make it there every year. Tell the Big 10 and Pac 10 to earn their way in and get over it.

Thanks for your consideration. Get to work on that and let me know.

God Bless America and God Bless the NCAA,

Adam McLane