Thursday, September 1, 2011

College football is here!

Well, slight snafu with the podcast, but it should be completed tonight and posted sometime tomorrow. Keeping the faith.

Today's posting is an article I wrote recently for website, but didn't get posted due to difference in perception. But I am a large fan of the website and of Stephanie Taylor and wish her nothing but sucess! Enjoy

Sunday Morning Option Quarterback
By Jeff Bowers

As the calendar turns to August (and the mercury reaches triple digits AGAIN!), it’s time to turn our collective sports brains away from the pastoral game of baseball and on to the graceful, brutal, beautiful and traumatic sport of college football. Each Sunday morning, I will join you and your morning coffee with this scatter-shooting, Peter King-esque article with various observations from across the football landscape. But as I am but one man (with 27 TVs), please feel free to send in your own observations that I may have missed to my email address, which I will happily take full credit for having seen myself. (HA!) No, I will probably give you a shout out for the truly masterful bon mot (that’s French for “nugget”). My sincere wish is to entertain, inform and challenge my readers; to expand the perspective of the average college football fan beyond the hue of their teams rooting interests while hopefully making them shoot that morning coffee out of their nose with laughter.

Now as there are no games yet to comment on, (because only you real sickos care about your teams practices) this week’s and next week’s article will take on a slightly different bent. This week’s humble offering will be my manifesto on if I were named “Xtreme Super Czar of NCAA Football.” (Yes, that would be my official title and it would be spelled with the X, despite my spell-check’s best efforts) Next week’s SMOQ article will be an extensive point/counter-point exchange with the help of TheCollegeFootballGirl, as we try to flush out all the things wrong with college football and reach a consensus as to the most logical path forward for the sport. I hope you enjoy and look forward to your feedback.

On Dec 1st, 1971, a great debate was had in print between Bill Miller of my humble school of North Texas State (today UNT) and Bob Woodruff of the University of Tennessee over a college football playoff system in the NCAA news letter. Since that time (and even before) the debate has raged on, with the same issues being brought forth by both sides again and again without ever reaching any kind of resolution. I am extremely sensitive to the arguments both pro and con, but as with all things involved in the NCAA, money is the over-riding factor; and the money lies with a playoff system. My good friend (and NFL draft broadcast partner on KTCK 1310 The Ticket in Dallas, TX) Norm Hitzges was one of the first to publish a definitive college football 16 team playoff system incorporating the bowls in Sport Magazine in the early 80’s. To this day, his plan has served as the blueprint for all the playoff system plans henceforth, with slight tweaks this way or that to make it their own. Against that backdrop, I now present to you my plan as Czar of all college football to reset the system.

Step 1: Realignment
From the office of the Xtreme Super Czar of College Football:
Henceforth all FBS schools(that’s Division I to all you old school folks) must be a part of a 12 to 16 team conference with divisions and a championship game, or be classified as an independent in order to be eligible for the playoffs.
Commentary: With the recent jumping around of teams in conferences, it is time for a uniformity to be laid down in order to facilitate a fair and just playoff system. So the Big 12 (with 10 teams GRR!) needs to suck it up or break up and stop letting Texas bully all the others in their conference. And the Big East needs to subtract some of the 10,000 basketball schools from its conference and add some actual football schools to be legitimate and earn its automatic bid status.

Step 2: Playoff system
From the office of the Xtreme Super Czar of College Football:
The following will be the format of the playoff system:
1.   All regular season games will be concluded by the final weekend of November, and the first weekend of December will be reserved for Championship games.
2.   Each of the 6 major conference champions (assuming there are 6 major conferences) will qualify for a playoff berth, as well as 2 at large teams, and seeding will be determined by the Polls.
3.   The first round of playoffs will begin the third week of December (allowing for travel and finals) and would take place according to the following chart.

Holiday Bowl

San Diego, CA

Fiesta Bowl
Rose Bowl

Glendale, AZ
Pasadena, CA
Championship Game
Cotton Bowl
Sugar Bowl
Tempe, AZ
Arlington, TX
New Orleans, LA

Orange Bowl

Miami, FL

The higher seeds would get their choice of bowl settings of the first four, chosen in order of seeding. The Rose and Sugar Bowls would be played on New Year’s Day, with the Championship game coming on the second Monday of January.
4.   All other bowl games will be considered and encouraged to exist, so long as they do not conflict with any of the playoff bowl games.
5.   If any bowl is deemed unworthy of participation in the playoff, or another bowl wishes to petition to be included, all such inquiries will be considered of a committee of Conference officials and NCAA board members.
Commentary: An elaborate plan, to be sure, but one with merit, I believe, that answers many of the obstacles that have befallen other plans. First, it helps appease the Rose Bowl faction by insuring their status as a “Granddaddy” bowl. Secondly, it helps appease the “it de-emphasizes the regular season” people, because to be in the top 8 is quite a feat, and the higher seeds pick their bowl, so home field advantage plays a role. For example, last season Auburn (automatic bid SEC) would play Virginia Tech (automatic bid ACC) presumably in the Orange Bowl, Oregon (automatic bid Pac-12) would play Oklahoma (automatic Big-12) in the Holiday Bowl,  TCU (automatic bid Big East now) would play Ohio St (at large) in the Cotton Bowl, and Wisconsin (automatic bid Big 10) would play Stanford (at large) in the Fiesta Bowl, with the Orange/Cotton winner in the Sugar Bowl and the Fiesta/Holiday Bowl winner in the Rose Bowl. You can see why realignment is so important to this plan, and why it is step 1 of the plan. Also, the inclusion of the Holiday Bowl is purely for geographic reasons, and other bowls would be considered as substitution, which is why there would be the panel, as well as expansion to 12 or 16 teams as the system warrants.

Step 3: Pay for players
From the office of the Xtreme Super Czar of College Football:
The following system of compensating student athletes shall be available for all schools in participating conferences, as voted on by each conference individually, or to independent schools.
1.   Every scholarship student athlete in your school may be compensated for their time on the field for up to 25 hrs at the rate of the current federally mandated minimum wage.
2.   If a school agrees to participate in this program, all accounts will be monitored and controlled by the school and any “irregularities” must be reported immediately.
3.   Any other compensation provided to the players will be strictly prohibited, including pay for appearances, merchandise, or other exchanges. Violations of over or under paying of athletes will be subject to NCAA sanctions, up to and including expulsion from the compensation program.

Commentary: Ah, the big question that seemingly pops up each off-season in college football of whether or not to pay football players. But in the words of the current mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, never let a crisis go to waste. Here’s my solution: pay them as if they had a part-time job in college, like most undergrads. It is true that these students put in an extraordinary amount of time and effort in their sport, and that this money flows directly to the school, so make them “employees” of the school in addition to their scholarship so that they have the proverbial “spending money” that is always brought up in this argument. But here’s the catch: schools are not just paying their football players, but ALL of their scholarship athletes. So thanks to Title IX, the women’s volleyball team gets compensated at the same rate. Now, you must be thinking “that’s a pretty large expense” and you would be right! That’s how diabolical this plan truly is. Smaller schools simply could not handle the cost of competing at that level, thus thinning the ridiculous amount of FBS schools into “haves” and “have-nots.” And, thanks to realignment (see Step 1) all the schools that can compete at that level will be included into conferences with automatic bids, thus by proxy solving the “Boise State/Utah/TCU” issue as well. The other schools will be allowed to continue to participate in the FBS and even qualify for an at large bid in the playoffs, but the hope is that the compensation rule will be enough of a chip to keep the “big boys” happy and make a smaller school be truly special to qualify for inclusion in the playoffs.

Step 4: Unite the Polls
From the office of the Xtreme Super Czar of College Football:
The Poll system to determine playoff seeding (see Step 2) will be the current BCS computer system with one change. The coaches’ poll will no longer be included in the math, and will be replaced with the AP poll.
Commentary: Details, details. This job is a lot harder than I thought it would be. The big change here just eliminates the discrepancies between the polls, and eliminates the stupid coaches’ poll, which most coaches don’t take seriously anyway and have interns turn in their votes. If you can’t vote responsibly, then you don’t get to vote. That’s why my title is Czar and not President.

Ok, that should get the ball rolling. I’m really looking forward to next week’s point/counterpoint article to really squeeze the juice from this plan and get something we can all ingest happily, as opposed to that blue BCS Kool-Aid they’ve been poisoning us with for far too long. And I’m really looking forward to some actual football games soon! Be good and be well, college football fans.

1 comment:

  1. I agree that the BCS system is flawed. Mark Cuban's idea of having the small non-12 team conference winners play each other in a championship game to determine who gets the AQ bid, sounds intriguing. And I do have to disagree with you on player compensation. With the price of higher education what it is, a full-ride scholarship is substantial player compensation.