Thursday, January 10, 2008

College Football: An Irresponsible Business

It may seem a stretch for us to nominate "Every Decision Maker in NCAA Football Bowl Division (Formerly Division 1-A)" (hereafter referred to as "the Powers") for our Hall of Shame.

Can "Perpetuating a complete, absurd clusterf… in the determining of a national champion" really be deemed a socially ill. But- and this isn't just championship week sour grapes from an Ohioan- I hereby do just that.

It is absolutely stunning how the guilty parties- NCAA execs, college presidents, conference leadership, bowl chairs and sponsors, and television network execs- can recite, in public unison, with a straight face, their silly reasons why a tournament (you know, that mechanism for determining a champion in EVERY OTHER SPORT INCLUDING ALL OTHER DIVISIONS OF COLLEGE FOOTBALL) would somehow be unfair for the student athlete. How could it be, when most of the action would take place over the student-athletes' winter break- especially if the Powers would agree to remove the 12th regular season game they added a few years back?

Or, more skeptically put, how could the student-athletes be more exploited than they already are?

I would also argue that a tournament (four or eight teams- much less weighty to decide who should be the 8th seed than the 2nd) would not even be bad for the lucrative interest the Powers are clearing harboring- namely, their coffers under the current, ridiculous system of 30+ bowls and the suddenly mythical BCS Championship Game. I would think they could simply incorporate all the current bowls into the tournament, or, if truly bent on maintaining the ceremonial-ness of the bowls, playing them as the 12th game, pre-tournament.

(For those who have tuned out the now-silly annual debate, here's this year's refresher, a glowing scoop about the commissioners of the best conferences' willingness to consider a "plus one," or adding a game after the current BCS Championship to really determine the champion.)

We won't see a tournament for a few years, if ever, because of course the massive TV deal is already in place. Sadly, as with all Sports Travesties, we the fans really hold the power to demand change, and we'll never stay away (nor should we). So we're resigned to waiting for the Powers to come to their senses- or perhaps for their current contracts to run out, and for them to realize that a tournament could be even more lucrative.

Powers, in case you're reading, here's the complicated process toward righting this silliness:

1) Scale back the regular season to 1o or 11 games
2) Continue your conference championships
3) Play the bowls, as they were traditionally conference-aligned; then take the top 4 teams (using a BCS-type rating) after the bowls into a seeded tournament
4) Elevate three more bowls to Tournament status, and use seven bowls as the fields for an eight team playoff, with the championship game rotating among the granddaddies of them all (Rose, Orange, Sugar...oh, fine, Fiesta).

You have until 2011 to figure this out before I cancel my basic cable in protest.

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