A New Deal Struck in Washington: College Football's Ultimate New Payoff

Michael Ielpi@ielpiCorrespondent IJune 27, 2012

UNITED STATES - MARCH 11:  Billy Mayfair shared the AstraZeneca Charity Challenge check with Luke Donald(not photographed) after the third round of The Honda Classic held on the Sunshine Course at Country Club at Mirasol in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, on March 11, 2006.  (Photo by S. Badz/Getty Images)
S. Badz/Getty Images

Those fat cats in Washington just got a massive pay raise. For once, I am not talking about our elected officials. The commissioners of the BCS (Bowl Championship Series) came together and found a solution to split up the billions that go along with major college football.

Go and get even more money.

These commissioners make significantly more money than most college presidents. Imagine how many more people could go to college if these men just reduced their salaries to a cool million. Instead, they probably doubled or tripled their incomes thanks to this deal.

This is not a new playoff, it is a new payoff.

Some people are even celebrating. ESPN may be having the biggest bash—they may have had the biggest seat in the boardroom and, almost certainly, the largest wallet of cash.

Please give these men credit; they did their job as good as it can be done. The cash will now require two wheelbarrows to bring in as opposed to one.

These men may not know so much about the strategy used on the green gridiron, but they sure know a lot about the color green. More importantly, they know the old saying "the better the greenery, the better the scenery."

It is one more game and billions upon billions of reasons to celebrate for these guys.

Figures are saying that by adding just one more game, the take could be more than doubled from the BCS’ $155 million windfall to up to $400 million for the new championship game.

Instead, what we received from the powers that be is a system that benefits the uber-wealthy schools even more.

We were told that the college football regular season means so much and the regular season is the best in sports.

Yes, but have you looked at some of the big schools' important schedules?

The defending national champion University of Alabama has three extremely important home games in 2012 versus powerhouse football academies, starting with the mighty Hilltoppers of Western Kentucky, the dastardly Owls of Florida Atlantic and, finally, the powerhouse Catamounts of Western Carolina.

You cannot cheapen a regular season any more than what college football does with its 12-game schedule.

Sure, Alabama is playing Michigan, Missouri and the SEC, but one-quarter of the Crimson Tide’s schedule is a money-grabbing joke. (Let it be known, I am not a Tide hater. Just about every big school does this; I just started at the top.)

Those games are only important in the 300,000 or so tickets sold for those cupcake home contests. These schools would play your flag football team if it were legal.

You cannot tell me that the Alabama-Auburn game would mean less at any time.

That game could be played in early April with both Alabama and Auburn playing the same night in the men’s basketball national championship, and it would still be the most talked about game in the Heart of Dixie.

Do not be fooled, this really is not a playoff.

A playoff is what happens in every other football league in America, whether it is the NFL playoffs, your high school state championship tournament or in every other level of college football.

FCS (Football Championship Subdivision, formerly Division I-AA), Division II and Division III schools have more than just a playoff system in common.

At these institutions, you will have an actual major, you will go to classes that will put you on a career path besides being a professional athlete, and you will practice just as hard as any student-athlete at an FBS school. Oh, and you probably will not be attending these schools on a full scholarship—or any scholarship—especially at the Division III level. You play because you love the game.

We complain about the team not selected to make the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, and that team was 69th and lost at least ten games. There are 345 Division I college basketball schools. There are 68 teams selected for play in the NCAA Tournament. That is a percentage of just around 20 percent of the teams that play college basketball having a chance to win the national championship.

Now with this new “playoff” that is coming to college football, four teams will be chosen to participate in the NCAA Football National Championship.

That brings us to a percentage of just over three percent of the teams that play college football having a chance to win the national championship. You know who those teams will be. I will tell you who those teams will not be. The big conference commissioners made sure there will not be any slobs joining their exclusive Bushwood Country Club.

There are 122 schools that represent the current FBS.

Please do not mind if we just wipe away the dreams of the thirteen schools in the Mid-America Conference, the dozen schools in Conference USA, the ten in the Mountain West, the ten in the Sun Belt, the seven teams in the WAC and pretty much the eight in the Big East. (I say the Big East because whom do you think will get selected for a four-team playoff: an unbeaten Temple team that draws less than 20,000 per home game or a Florida team with two losses?) Enjoy the ground patty of them all: The Beef O’Brady’s Bowl, gentlemen.

The number is about half of the schools that represent all of FBS football. You would have to be a fool to think that just four teams are sufficient.

Here is the percentage breakdown of the number teams who have a chance to play for their division’s national championship:

Football Championship Subdivision Tournament, 20 teams qualifying, 17.2 percent of all schools

Division II Tournament, 24 teams qualifying, 15.4 percent of all schools

Division III Tournament, 32 teams qualifying, 13.7 percent of all schools


The Current BCS, two teams qualifying, 1.6 percent of all schools

The New “Playoff” System, four teams qualifying, 3.2 percent of all schools

It would take at least 16 teams (13.1 percent) to get to a playoff system equivalent to what has been in place for decades in every other level of college football.

There are currently 11 conferences in FBS College Football. If you take the 11 conference champions and add five wild-card schools, you have yourself a real playoff. Few, if any, would complain and EVERY school playing FBS football has a shot at the national championship—just like any other level of football.

Those tournaments above are what are usually referred to as playoffs.

Granted, just like some other tournaments, year after year you will find teams that will make the championship game. For example, the last seven Stagg Bowls (The Division III National Championship Game) have featured the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater against the Mount Union College.

Those two schools are the best, but they do not get to the game because they just get selected based on their reputation.

They have to win five games to be the national champion.

After a ten-game regular season, the five playoff games add up to a total of 15 games for the season. These playoff games begin on the second-to-last weekend in November, with the Stagg Bowl occurring four weekends later. That is more games than what any FBS school will play, and yet no one seems to say anything about the state of academics in Division III.

What you are about to see are some serious stadium overhauls to get in on the bidding for these games. In Orlando, this has already begun, as the Citrus Bowl is going to add 8,000 more club seats and put $175 million into renovations. This is certain to happen in other cities that do not have venues that meet the standards that the new system wants so it can bid millions to get in on this.

These facilities will be empty throughout the year and provide little to no value to their respective areas.

Sadly, they may never even get the game, unless they can grease enough palms at the NCAA to do this. The folks at the NCAA should pair up with FIFA to see if they could get the national championship in Qatar.

What you saw yesterday at the conference in Washington were not smiles for making college football a fairer place. Underneath those smiles, these men had which yacht they were going to buy or where their next summer home will be thanks to revenue that this new system just bought for them.

In a few years, it will not be them who will be removing the banners of their respective schools that will get caught for breaking rules and for the young men who will be expelled for taking a free lunch, while the men representing them just got a free retirement package on the effort of these amateur athletes.

The better the greenery, the better the scenery—at least for those who get to make their own pay increases.


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