20 questions: Management & Direction in College Football

In my last post I reflected on the vantage point from the upper decks and seeing things for what they really are.  A good friend of mine took advantage of the view from this seat and texted his frustration to me with the current state of college football.  Our “water cooler” discussion overflowed with his final message;

December 4, 4:44 pm

One more point: They say TV made the NFL.  It also may be killing college football. 

This morning he went on to finalize part of his initial argument with a few updated details;

December 6, 6:04 am

Strong staying in Louisville.  Barry Alvarez to coach Wisconsin in Rose Bowl.

So the question as to whether there’d be two or three BCS teams with their coaches packing up to leave for “greener pastures” was answered with Charlie Strong staying in Louisville (not bolting for Tennessee) and legendary Badger coach Barry Alvarez making a cameo comeback in the Rose Bowl for Wisconsin.

I’m going to attempt to provide answers to some of my friend’s points from the first post by offering my own thought provoking questions in hopes of getting readers to do the same.

Here goes with 20 questions;

  1. What is the age that a high school athlete should begin contemplating college selection?
  2. Does an underclass high school athlete have enough educational experience to select a college/course of study?
  3. At what age should high school athletes be allowed to discuss scholarship opportunities with college recruiters?
  4. Should scholarship commitments be made between high school athletes and college recruiters prior to exhausting high school eligibility?
  5. If so, should there be some binding agreement on both sides to prevent decommitments?
  6. What is the primary influence on high school athletes in selecting a college or university?
  7. What is the role of football in a college education?
  8. Are there any parallels between underclass high school & underclass college prospects?
  9. How many draft eligible players come out of all levels of college football each year (FBS, FCS, etc…?)
  10. How many players are invited to the annual NFL Combine? Drafted? Make a club?
  11. Does conference affiliation affect national exposure and coverage via the media?
  12. Should there be national oversight of scheduling and conference alignment of FBS universities?
  13. Why does the NCAA exercise control of the national championships of ALL other sanctioned sports and not FBS football?
  14. Should individual schools, conferences, or the NCAA have oversight of major media coverage & contracts?
  15. Do you feel football is the primary source of revenue for the athletic departments of FBS universities?
  16. Why is there a transfer rule for athletes but none for coaches that choose to leave while still under contract with a college or university?
  17. Can recruiting deadlines be effectively shifted to accommodate completion of postseason competition and the start of any offseason training?
  18. If the sanctity of the college bowl system has prevented a playoff scenario, why have some college coaches chosen to leave for new jobs prior to their school’s participation?
  19. What message is sent to college athletes in the above scenario?
  20. Do you agree with the validity of this stated NCAA mission?  “Our mission is to be an integral part of higher education and to focus on the development of our student-athletes”.

My interpretation is the following – The rich continue to get richer.  College football is an abosolute mess with the influence of “big money” television deals and seemingly no management oversight by the NCAA.  Scholarship numbers and limits on practices in the spring are a feeble attempt to provide equal opportunity.  The deck has never been stacked as high as it is right now.

Conference jumping (or realignment) is oft-driven by market exposure and expanded opportunity.  Markets attract television.  Television provides revenue and expanded exposure.  Both leading to the better opportunities.

Revenue buys facilities, coaching, and twenty different combinations of uniforms.  Trinkets and bobbles catch the eye of 15 year olds still yet to read Moby Dick or to decipher the Periodic Table.  They can’t drink, drive, or vote, but can commit to a fully financed advanced education.  Watch grown men run around the country and herd them like cats.

Even the noblest of institutions set out to find the best “molders of men” in an attempt to achieve the NCAA’s above stated mission.  Then along comes a perceived better opportunity or the next rung on the ladder (adult trinkets and bobbles) and off goes your main man to mold others (usually for higher price).

Look, I get it.  I’m not naïve to the business, not at all.  But to pontificate one thing while practicing another is plain hypocritical and does nothing for the “development and education of young men and women”.

You want to be like the Pros (big money & stability) then start acting like professionals.  Put some measures into place that take the game back from those that stole it in the first place.  Manage and direct college football like the BIG BUSINESS it really is and quit pretending to be something you’re not.

Oh yeah, and don’t forget the student-athletes along the way.

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