6 Things Every College Football Fan Wants for Christmas
While Christmas isn't the winter holiday celebrated by every college football fan, it is the one that's most associated with commercialism thanks to its emphasis on presents.
To that end, we at Bleacher Report are sharing some of our joy during this season of giving by presenting to you our list of the six things every college football fan most wants for Christmas.
Here's hoping at least one of these gifts comes to fruition.
A Competitive BCS Championship Game
It's been three years since a BCS National Championship Game provided an exciting finish, when Auburn kicked a game-winning field goal as time expired to beat Oregon 22-19 for the 2011 title.
Is it too much too ask for something at least moderately competitive in this, the final year of the BCS?
The last two championship games have been far from in doubt in the second half, with Alabama cruising past Notre Dame last year and Alabama utterly dominating LSU the season before.
With the College Football Playoff coming in next year, this is the last chance for the BCS to make a lasting memory. It lucked out by avoiding controversy for the title game, now maybe it can give us a close finish.
Fewer Uniform Combinations
Each of the 126 FBS college football teams list their school colors in the media guide, with that combination usually consisting of two or three colors that make up a uniform combination. Add in white and you've got a home and away set, with maybe the option to add a third (alternate) jersey color.
But when you need advance mathematical metrics to determine how many uni combinations a team has, and what the odds are they'll match this top with that helmet and those pants—and don't forget the socks!—then we've got a problem.
For a few teams, such as Oregon, this has been the status quo for years, and that's probably fine. But does every school need to go all out? Really, do football "powers" like Indiana and Kansas really need five different helmet options?
It's getting to the point where, when you turn on the TV and a football game is on, you've got to watch for a bit before you can tell who's playing whom. The ticker on the bottom of the screen is meant to tell you who's winning, not who's participating.
Bigger Coaching Contract Buyout Clauses
A contract in college football is about as ironclad and binding as the "Do Not Remove Under Penalty of Law" tags on mattresses. Coaches can sign a 10-year extension with their school one day and be standing in front of a podium being introduced as the head of another the next.
This isn't going to change, so to ask for it to do so is akin to asking Santa for a pony.
However, what we can hope for is that schools who hire new coaches become wiser and more business savvy when structuring those contracts. Most notably, in terms of the buyout or escape clause.
Some places are starting to come around, such as Arkansas State, which after Bryan Harsin left for Boise State found itself searching for a fifth football coach in as many years.
New coach Blake Anderson's contract, which pays him $700,000 per year (plus incentives) includes a $3 million buyout clause if he leaves for another job in the first two years of the five-year contract. That would mean a school wanting to pluck him away after one season—as Boise State, Auburn and Ole Miss have done with Arkansas State coaches—would need to pay more than four years' worth of his salary to Arkansas State, thus essentially enabling the school to hire its next coach with that buyout money.
The buyout amount would need to be much higher for higher-profile coaches, though unfortunately many schools (and their boosters) would still be willing to fork over eight figures to pilfer a top-tier coach.
Elimination of the Targeting Rule
Player safety is very important. Preventing intentional blows to the head should continue to be a part of the game.
But the targeting rule, as it stands in college football, needs to go.
For one, it's too vague. The rule itself defines targeting as making contact with a "defenseless" player above the shoulders, usually with one's own helmet. But what, exactly, constitutes targeting a player? If two players collide helmets, does that automatically make it targeting?
Many times it has, though the NCAA did allow for replay to determine if it was intentional or not. If intent didn't appear to have occurred, the ejection that came with the penalty would go away...but not the 15-yard infraction.
If targeting is going to stay in the game (and it should), it needs to be better defined and have a much clearer explanation. Better yet, the ejection portion of the penalty should probably be an after-the-fact infraction, something that's reviewed on tape after the game and assessed toward a future game.
Fewer FBS-FCS Matchups
With the addition of Appalachian State and Georgia Southern to the FBS ranks for the 2014 season, there will now be 128 teams playing at the highest level of college football.
That makes for more than enough possible opponents a school can choose from when filling out the three or four nonconference slots on their schedules each year. That being said, it's time for the number of FCS-FBS matchups to start decreasing rather than continuing the increase we've seen over the last few seasons.
A team from one of the power conferences could, for instance, schedule one game apiece against foes from Conference USA, the Mid-American Conference, the Mountain West Conference and the Sun Belt and still have put together a slate of pushovers without having to bring Tennessee Tech or Southern Illinois in for a beatdown.
Notre Dame got the ball rolling on what will hopefully be a national trend when it released its schedules for 2014 through 2016, one that's heavily geared toward having a strong enough schedule strength to grab one of those coveted spots in the new four-team College Football Playoff.
While lower-end FBS teams don't need to schedule with the CFP in mind, there's no longer a need for, say, the SEC's powers to bring in FCS foes in mid-November.
A Real Playoff System
We got what we wanted. Well, sort of.
Next season there will be a four-team playoff that will determine the national champion. But is that really going to be enough?
What if there are three clear-cut candidates for this "tournament" but two or three strong options for the fourth spot? Isn't that leaving us in the same predicament we had in some seasons when there were more than two viable BCS title game participants?
Hopefully the College Football Playoff won't have that problem, but it probably will. That's why we need a real playoff, like the one used to determine the FCS championship. That tournament features 24 teams right now, with the top eight getting a bye. It allows for upsets, as is the case with seventh-seeded Towson playing in the title game, but it also makes it so that the cream (i.e., top seed and defending champ North Dakota State) can rise to the top through an elimination process, not just through a popularity contest or via computer rankings.
Give us an eight-team playoff, then a 16-teamer. It's why the NCAA basketball tournament is so awesome, and it's how college football can become just as great.