Monday was baseball. Today, I invite all my fellow BlogPollers (and everyone else) to discuss college football.
(HT: Stewart Mandel)
I know that everyone wants to fix the BCS. Well, everyone with any amount of common sense wants to fix the BCS. We can debate playoff/"plus-one"/current bowl system until we're blue in the face. But it's not changing. Probably ever. So I'm not going to propose a playoff system here. I would venture to guess that anyone who's ever read my work before or listened to me on the radio before knows how I feel on the issue.
I would recommend that any BlogPoller who wants to take part in this (call it an "informal roundtable", if you will) also avoid the issue. There are so many other issues in college football that we can probably have a meaningful discussion without ever bringing it up.
1. Find a way to make the games shorter.
I don't care if they have to change how the play clock is run. I don't care if they have to run the game clock after first downs or out-of-bounds plays. College football is in dire need of flow. And unless the wishbone is coming back into style at some point, we're not going to get that flow. The spread offense leads to a ton of clock stoppages.
Games that last close to four hours (without overtime - and more on overtime in a bit) are games that last too long. Even an enthusiastic college football fan is probably going to come to this conclusion.
2. Get rid of this stupid overtime system.
I see a few alternatives:
--> No overtime. Voters hate ties, and so, presumably, do the power ratings. Not only that, but fans allegedly hate ties, so we can't have them.
--> NFL-style overtime. It isn't perfect, either, as you'll find out when I take my turn as NFL Commissioner for a Day later this week. But it's better than this contrived drivel.
--> NFL-style overtime with a twist...each team has to have the ball at least once, and the game doesn't end until one team has the lead after each team has taken a turn. In other words, if you take the ball to start overtime and score a touchdown, you kick the extra point and kick off to your opponent as if it was regulation time. Your opponent must then score a touchdown and kick the extra point to keep the game going. It's a morph of the college and pro systems, and I think it's the best solution.
--> Another idea I kind of like, one that is similar to the preceding idea, is what I think the old WLAF used. There, you had to get to six points first, so taking the opening drive of overtime and settling for a field goal wasn't necessarily the best move.
--> The World League used an even more unique system in 1974. Borrowing from international soccer, they divided the fifteen-minute overtime into two halves of 7:30 each. The full overtime was played, with one team kicking off to the other at the start of each "half". (HT: Wikipedia)
--> Change the current system to start possessions at midfield instead of the 25. That way, teams actually have to gain a few yard to have a realistic chance to score points.
Pick any of these ideas, and you'll have a better system than the "take the ball at the opponents' 25-yard-line, so you're already in field goal range without gaining a yard" concept currently being used.
3. Ban colleges from hiring coaches away from teams who are still playing.
Stewart Mandel presented this idea in his Commissioner for a Day piece linked above, saying that college football needs a system similar to that in the NFL, where coaches cannot be hired until after their team's season is over.
(Mandel actually errs in his piece, saying NFL rules prohibit coaches on teams still playing from being interviewed. This is no longer the case, but any team that wants to interview a coach on a team that is still playing must get permission and conduct the interview at an approved time.)
It seems like common sense to me. Don't cause any distractions to teams who are still preparing for postseason games. They might only be bowl games, but they're important to the young men involved.
4. Allow games on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, but limit teams to 250 miles of travel for games on those nights.
Personally, I like the idea of being able to flip on a college football game on a night when the only other programming on television is aimed directly at my wife.
But I don't like the idea of teams taking three days off of school to travel to those games. 250 miles of travel is a reasonable four-hour ride (assuming decent highways and light traffic), so players can be in school at least one of those three days they'd normally be gone.
(Toledo went to Fresno for a Tuesday game last year. That's just too much travel on a weeknight.)
Furthermore, teams that are traveling longer distances for a Thursday night game cannot leave until after all players have completed their class obligations on Wednesday, and teams traveling for a Friday game can't leave until at least Thursday afternoon.
To me, the schools need to at least fake the idea that college coursework is important for their athletes.
But at the same time, I don't want to take away chances for conferences like the MAC, Sun Belt, and Conference USA to get extra national exposure for their teams. Even with the advent of satellite packages and cable sports networks, the exposure is still lacking for these leagues.
5. Either tell the major polls that they can't conduct a survey until after everyone has played five games, or remove their influence from the BCS.
Too much of the BCS is determined in August, when the preseason polls come out.
At least part of that can be linked to the fact that the polls have wayyyyyy too much influence over the BCS rankings.
There are two solutions to this problem. You either tell the major polls that they are not to release a survey until after every team in Division I-A has played at least five games (so everyone has a good idea which teams are the best and which were overhyped in the preseason), or you remove their influence from the BCS completely. Doing that would mean that only computer rankings, which lack bias and are not prone to giving in to preconceived notions about teams, determine the BCS rankings.
6. Come up with a single uniform body to handle officiating.
I don't think that the individual conferences do a really bad job handling their officials. But they don't do a really good job, either.
If there were an independent firm that covered all college football officials, then we'd have similar standards for Sun Belt and Big Ten referees, which would hopefully remove the embarrassments we saw last year when mid-major conference officials tried to call bowl games involving major conference teams.
Granted, I'm not expecting to see Sun Belt officials working the National Championship Game anytime soon, but I still believe that the standard needs to be higher, and having one body overseeing all officials in all conferences would help do that.