More Games for College Football Teams Should Not Be an Option

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More Games for College Football Teams Should Not Be an Option

Yesterday, my colleague Adam Jacobi over at the Big Ten Blog discussed the nine-game Big Ten schedule and how that could start to lead us down the road to an expanded regular season schedule.

The mere idea of putting more games into the schedule made me shudder. Change seems to have become the lone constant on the college landscape. Change in conferences. Change in postseason. Change in coaches.

However, one thing that certainly should not change is the length of the college football regular season. Especially if that change is to increase the amount of games played by these athletes. Decreasing games? That's worth a discussion, but the idea of putting more on their already-crowded plate should not even be an option for the future of the season.

As Jacobi lays it out, a dilemma exists between teams needing at least seven home games and conferences looking to put an extra game on the schedule. They have to make that money somehow, as he explains it:

Back to the point at hand. There are only two ways to get around declining numbers of guaranteed home games. That's for either every single school to raise ticket prices and other fees by a substantial margin—one large enough to cover a ~15 percent decline in home games—or to make more home games happen.

In other words, if the schools are going to get what they want, it'll come from hitting your wallet harder or hitting its athletes harder.

Attendance is already down across the board in college football. Raising prices would only serve to give folks more reason to stay at home with their satellite, cable and HD televisions. So, raising prices on an already-strained facet of the system certainly doesn't look to be the answer—which brings us back to increasing the amount of games.

College football, courtesy of conference expansion and the push to grab more television money, has already seen the schedule grow in recent decades. Eleven games became 12, that 12 grew into 13 with the addition of conference championship games. Throw in the bowl games, and that becomes 14 brutal battles for teams.

Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Wisconsin and Stanford met in the Rose Bowl, the 14th game of the season for both teams
Now we are moving to a four-team playoff, which stands to add another game to some teams' schedules. The champion will likely end up 15-0 or 14-1. Or, in other words, one game shy of the NFL's regular season.

College football's not a hobby. It's a time-consuming, physical, toll-exacting grinder that sucks every bit of marrow out of these kids that it can in its current scheduling form. Putting more on their plate would merely be the power brokers squeezing more out of their prize cash cows in an effort to grow their own bank accounts.

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Squeezing more out of the players is a time-honored tradition in college football. What used to be a fall sport has turned in a year-round game. Voluntary conditioning sessions are anything but the players' choice. These 17-23-year-old kids are giving the system every ounce of what they have to give. At this point, adding games to their regular season in an obvious profit play is where the line ought to be drawn.

This move would not be a game played by four teams in the postseason. It wouldn't be a conference title move to put the best couple teams on a national stage the first week of December. Rather, the move to a 13-game regular season would be a pure cash grab in an effort to ensure a body-bag opponent for a home game. A move so that teams could grow the money they are going to be pulling in.

Don't fall into the fray, here. Don't gobble up the "we need an extra game to make our nut," rhetoric. We are a season away from the start of the four-team playoff event and the huge payouts that have been negotiated with its existence. Cash for the contract bowls. Cash for the host bowls. Cash for semifinal participants. Cash for the final game.

Teams will find a way to make it work in the odd years where they have just six home games. The cash from the playoff will certainly help to make that a palatable experience.

The sport, and these players, don't need an extra game on the front end—especially not an extra game that's sole purpose is to help athletic departments stuff a little extra cash in their pockets.

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