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.

Church Leadership

Economy of Words

Good communicators are aware of an economy of words.

Whether its blogging or public speaking or preaching– you must have a constant awareness of how many words your audience is capable of processing in the amount of space/time you have.

Too many words and people get overloaded and tune you out. (or navigate to another website) Sloppy word usage or a lack of creativity? You’ve lost them. They may be present, but their minds are gone.

Have you ever wondered why people can recount exactly what happened during an episode of their favorite show but can’t remember the three main points of your last sermon?

The secret? Editing.

Television shows, movies, magazine articles and even songs are all edited to maximize your retention of the words.

They go through a process. Someone writes it. It gets edited. It gets rehearsed. It gets edited again. Then it gets performed. (If its recorded then it gets edited one more time.)

Let’s review:

1. Unimportant messages, things flowing from the entertainment industry, are edited to maximize impact with an understanding that the audience can only handle so many words before they stop taking it in. (Entertainment is passive in response, by nature. But looks at it’s impact in moving people!)

2. Important messages, let’s say… things that are taught in youth group or Sunday morning at church… are almost never edited, rehearsed, or vetted in any way. (The Gospel message is active in response, by nature. But look at it’s impact in moving people!)

And we wonder why the message doesn’t get through?

hmm... thoughts

How to Stop Being Boring

Photo by Ryan Heaney via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Most people are boring.

Thirteen years ago, in our first apartment, Kristen and I lived on the 15th floor of a high rise apartment building. If you looked at just the right spot you could see Lake Michigan. And if you hung your head out the window you could look south down LaSalle Boulevard towards the loop or north towards Lincoln Park.

You could also see directly across the street into your neighbors apartment. (And I’m sure they could see directly into our apartment, too.) It’s hard to describe how fascinating it was to know that 50 feet away were people living life– just like you. All you had to do was look outside and you could see into the apartment windows of hundreds of neighbors.

It was like a human safari right outside your window.

Let me say this. We weren’t perverts who spent all night staring out the window. But it was just one of those things, you’d get up to go to the kitchen, walk by the window, and something would catch your eye…. so you’d stop and stare for a minute without even thinking about it. A light would turn on or something would move just enough to catch your attention. So you stopped and looked until you realized how creepy you must look to other people looking out their window at you.

At first we were curious that we’d see ultra-interesting things. Like crazy parties or people having sex on balconies. All our lives we’d been told that people were freaky in their private lives and here were hundreds of people’s private residences completely open for us to look at if we wanted to.

A couple weeks of living there we both came to the same conclusion: People are pretty boring.

There were times each week where something would capture your attention. But pretty quickly you’d realize that it was just a light turning on or something like that and your curiosity would lessen.

In the year that we lived there were only 3 things that were worth looking out the window for:

  1. To show visitors the view. We’d point and say, “Yup, there’s Lake Michigan. Cool, huh?”
  2. Car accidents. I vividly remember the sound of crunching vehicles in the middle of the night.
  3. The Chicago Marathon. It was really cool to look out our window and see people filling the street all the way down LaSalle Blvd.

Other than that– it was people watching television.

On any given night you could look out the window and see the same thing. Half the windows were dark. (Meaning people weren’t home or were sleeping.) 25% of the windows were mostly dark with the flickering glow of a television. 25% of the windows had lights on, but with people watching television on the couch.

Kristen and I concluded– most people’s lives are as boring as our own.

One of my favorite bloggers, Mark Cuban, wrote about this the other day.

TV is the best cure for boredom.  That is what makes TV so popular.

TV is the path of least resistance alternative to doing nothing. When you do nothing. Time passes too slowly. When you are doing something, even something that barely requires consciousness, like watching TV, there is the chance that time will go by more quickly. We look for the path of least resistance to passing time whenever we are bored. All it takes is a click of the tv remote. The boredom ends and there is even the chance that we will be entertained and really like what we are watching. So there is also significant upside to watching TV. So we watch a *&$#load of TV .

I bump into this phenomenon in a few different ways related to my blog. I love meeting blog readers… especially when someone tells me for the first time that they follow. Typically, people want to know when I have the time to write so much. (I don’t watch much TV.) People tell me that I do really interesting things. (Maybe, but maybe I just write about things that are interesting and 90% of my life is pretty boring?) People ask me where I get all of my ideas. (I’ve written about that before. It’s not that I have more ideas than anyone else. It’s that I’m disciplined to write them down for later.)

I don’t think its that my life is especially interesting. But I’ve come to my own simple conclusion: My life is boring by default.

So I make a conscious choice to not be boring.

How to Stop Being Boring

  1. Put down the remote.
  2. Do something. Anything.
  3. Put aside any excuse you can think of. (“But I don’t have money to do something interesting!”)
  4. Understand this axiom: There is nothing more fascinating than doing something interesting with nothing. Isn’t that what reality TV is? Think about the things you find interesting enough to watch on television and at their core they are typically things you could do for free.
  5. BONUS: You can stop being boring by doing nearly anything. But it’d be awesome if you fought boredom by doing good.