Remember the Golden Rule: He who has the gold makes the rules. Nothing is truer describing the state of college football leadership. Sure, each NFL franchise is worth about a billion and TV contracts are astronomical, but the owners have put together a system that limits the power of money and its influence (at least on the field). The NFL Commissioner and the League Office hold real control over the good of the game and are not afraid to use it. College football lacks that controlling oversight. The NCAA likes to flex its muscles every now and then by cutting scholarships and instituting bowl bans, but nobody is looking out for the good of the game…the college game.
When the NFL season started a month ago, every team had equal opportunity to win this season’s Super Bowl. Strength of schedule isn’t taken into account when crowning their champion, and a 9-7 record doesn’t really matter once you make the playoffs. The New York Giants didn’t play a team from the AFC North that put in Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and Cincinnati. For that matter they came from the weakest division in the NFC. Those controlling college football leadership would ask, “Why were they even allowed in?”
Setting it up
Imagine if an NFL General Manager could schedule the first month of his season; open up with the Virginia Destroyers of the UFL, roll into a warm up game with the San Antonio Talons of Arena Football, and finish up with a team to be determined from the “new” USFL. And why not put the teams with the best records at the TOP of the draft? They deserve the best players for how they performed the year before, and the year before that, and the year before that. If you were Jerry Reese and Tom Coughlin, shouldn’t your team start the year ranked #1? Forget divisional play and winning your conference, the road to the Super Bowl should be paved from where you finished last season.
So the best teams would get the first crack at the best players. Then they’d have to work their way “down” the standings having already been placed on top to start the season. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Miami Dolphins, Jacksonville Jaguars, New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons, Tennessee Titans would dominate the nationally televised games. The Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, Green Bay Packers, Cleveland Browns don’t really deserve that type of national exposure.
You following me?
The hope would be a Super Bowl of something like the Carolina Panthers versus the New York Jets; a team from the south against a “big market” club. But of course they’d let the power rankings, polls and some mathematically generated playoff equation truly determine who deserved a Super Bowl invitation. The NFL as a governing body would just be around to make sure the players weren’t taking HGH and coaches weren’t offering bounties on opposing QB heads.
The NCAA oversees the national championships of all affiliated sports except one, major college football (Div IA, FBS, BCS or whatever it’s called now). For the most part, their focus is on stuff just like HGH and “Bountygates”. They serve little purpose in looking out for the good of the game; traditional rivalries dissolving, conferences constantly realigning, individual TV deals being negotiated, and bowl games losing any significant relevance.
It just doesn’t matter
Important as it is to win a conference championship, focus in college football is on finishing #1. It starts in the preseason polls before a game is even played. It’s measured throughout the year, with the well favored dropping only a couple places with a loss (so they might later return to the top), and those not in that group dropping into oblivion and never to return. It’s the rich conferences getting richer, building bigger complexes & stadiums, hiring the best coaches. A school like South Florida, storied in its 13 year history of major college football, has the legitimate right and a cleared path to a National Championship. Teams with over 100 years of football history from the WAC, the MWC, and the MAC don’t deserve that same opportunity, or so they say.
The best high school players and their families want to go to the programs that have a shot at all the spoils that college football can give them. And so the rich really do get richer. Want to know the difference between the NFL and the FBS? The Cleveland Browns still have a chance to be this season’s Super Bowl Champions, while the University of New Mexico was out of the running for a National Championship in 2012 immediately after the end of their 2011 season.
College football leadership needs an overhaul….for the good of the game.