2020 is THE prime example of why College Football needs a president/singular leader
Yeah, we're at that point where we need to look back at the 3,792 days that comprised the year of 2020. Sure, technically, a year is 365 days, but can anyone really say it didn't seem at least five to ten times as long?
College Football, like almost every other aspect of everyday life in the U.S. had to overcome some incredible challenges and worked around some really strange circumstances in a season where at several points, nobody was really sure if the season would happen.
No spring practice, no offseason training, limited access to facilities and coaches were just some of the hurdles to overcome. Due to COVID-19, we didn't know if we could even field teams.
Division II, Division III, FCS Football, NAIA Football, all decided to not play, the challenge and expense of trying to constantly test athletes, coaches and staffers far too daunting for them.
FBS programs were all over the board. Some smaller conferences like the MAC at first were not willing to schedule games. The Big 10 and Pac 12 said they weren't either--at least until they were. By the time they decided it was safe and moved forward, the two "Power Five" conferences were not going to be able to finish a full season.
The Big 10 started in mid-October with a conference schedule but only an eight game schedule. Not everyone got to play those games due to the super stringent rules and quarantine times imposed by the conference. Those rules would go on to create a huge debate at the end of the season and force the Big 10 to change their own rules late in the game to insure the conferences best team, Ohio State, would be eligible to play for the conference title and in turn the College Football Playoff.
The Pac 12, well, they had an even more limited schedule, yeah, they aimed for eight games, most teams got five or six in due to outbreaks all through the west coast. No team really stood out or had the chance to and Oregon would go on to win the conference championship game despite not holding the best record in their division.
I could go on forever about the adjustments made throughout the season and really, the schools, conferences and players did a fantastic job pushing through and getting most of a season complete with limited interruptions.
But the point here is more on the warts 2020 brought out and the glaring holes the game has which are going to need to be addressed at some point in time.
College Football as a whole needs a singular voice and leadership. It needs a commissioner/president/grand poobah, whatever you want the title to be. The game desperately needs someone looking out for the interest of ALL teams, not just the Alabama/Clemson's/Ohio States of the world.
Yeah, sure, those are your big names, those are the ones ESPN loves and the casual fans recognize. I get it.
But we also live in a world where the four team "playoff" is only a realistic goal for at best a dozen teams and for the other 120 or so programs in College Football's largest division, there is ZERO chances of getting to participate.
I get it, you can argue its because those 12 or so teams have the most money and biggest budgets. No question.
But I'd argue if other programs who say run the table like Cincinnati, are ever going to make the leap to that group of 10-12 teams, they have to get the chance to play at their level.
It's the exposure that draws the attention of recruits, the TV time and promotional time on SportCenter and Fox Sports that make recruits say "Maybe, I can be on or play for a championship team". Having 15 "five-star" RB recruits at Alabama means most of them will never play, but they'll get a ring. Why can't 10 of those recruits get a chance to compete for a job or play at a smaller school to get said ring?
The only way to balance the have nots with the haves is to let the have nots at least try competing with them, which College Football is clearly NOT set up to do right now.
One problem with that--the Power Five aren't going to willingly give up the opportunity to have as many of their teams in the playoff or New Years Six as possible. If the SEC can have three teams in the "big payout" games, they aren't going to willingly pass up one of those so a smaller program can jump in.
Which is where we need a singular leader, an oversight/overseeing type person to make that decision. Someone not beholden to the SEC or ACC or Big 10 or anyone else. The decisions need to be made for the betterment of the game. Period.
The other big warts are all connected to this....
"Bowl Season" needs to go away. Get rid of bowl games and expand the playoffs--means more opportunity for more teams to get attention. If those teams get attention, they get more money which means better facilities and better players. Do that for a couple seasons and we'll get at least a little parity in the game.
There are no virtues in bowl games. None. They were an early development to reward teams for a moderately successful season in an era where we weren't obsessed with who was the national champion.
They now exist primarily to line the pockets of ESPN and the local bowl committee. The schools get some money and the players get gift bags (oh boyeee!) and really that's about it. Do any of you REALLY think a top high school recruit is going to say "OMG, I have to go to Georgia State because they played in bowl game in Mobile, Alabama?" Uh, no.
The adherence to the bowl system severely restricts the opportunity to come up with a way to settle titles on the field. Moving to an expanded playoff may or may not be the best solution, but it can't hurt.
When the next TV deal comes up in 2026, why can't we have an 8-game playoff with the Power Five getting their title winners, plus three wild-card teams in the mix? Those wild-cards could be anyone. Group of Five schools, conference runner ups, whatever.
The argument has been made it adds games, an eight game playoff adds one or two games at most to it. The playoff teams have to play two post season games already, what's the difference?
Even a 16-game playoff would work. It adds three games to the regular season. It also would mean ending conference championship games--which is something no conference is willingly going to do because #MONEY
Again, that's the roadblock for almost everything here. There's so much money involved here that those in charge would be giving some up in order to make everyone happy. And we all know here in the U.S of A, we don't like to share. With anyone.
There are so many things the game needs to address, it would take a small book to list them here...
Name, Image and Likeness
Those are just a few issues a "President" type would in theory be able to address. Until there's someone who can force all the players to come to the same table and take action to make the game fair and open to everyone, none of this is going to change.
Don't get me wrong, I love the game. I love the tradition, the spectacle and the excitement and energy surrounding a big game in late October or November. There's nothing like it.
But until we get to a world where clearly biased rankings go away and subjective polling is eliminated or taken out of the equation, the game will remain flawed. Until we get to point where we aren't seeing Alabama vs. Clemson playing for the title every single year, a certain percentage of fans, players and teams are going to be left behind.
And if we want to save the game and make it better, that has to change. Beginning in 2021.