As Congress tries in vain to break the college athletic oligarchs' hold over Division I FBS football, it appears that the elite are concocting and new way to solidify their hold over the lucrative business of "amateur" football.
According to a column in last Sunday's Boulder Daily Camera, the idea of a college super league has been bandied about by university presidents and athletic directors for some time.
The claimed plan is to create a 64-team league, divided evenly into eight regional divisions, thus ensuring wonderful competition each week and guaranteeing the included universities a lucrative source of revenue.
The NCAA would obviously be incensed by such a move, but they would have little room for recourse due to the money generated by the NCAA men's basketball tournament and the accompanying TV contract.
If the NCAA booted its best schools for their football transgression, CBS would be able to opt out of the basketball contract due to the lack of quality teams eligible to participate in March Madness.
This is an intriguing and, for many, offensive idea. Though it would eliminate the dreary Akron-Ohio State September games by dictating that Super League teams would play only other Super League teams, it would also strip college football of two of its enduring appeals: The tradition of annual rivalry games and the (weak) premise of amateurism that is hocked by officials who are stuffing their pockets with the obscene profits of the current set-up.
The new league would emerge to resemble a European soccer league.
But if this was to happen, why leave that as the only similarity?
The new league would leave roughly 60 teams without a spot in the top flight. The NCAA could consolidate them into a second league that would also feature eight divisions. Each year, the bottom two teams of each division the super league would be relegated to the second division, while the top two teams in each second division would be promoted to play in the crisp air of the Super league.
The drama of the final weekend of the Fall would be magnified. Imagine a scenario where, on Thanksgiving Day, a Texas A&M squad floundering in the bottom of the Super League Southwest Division travels to Austin to battle division-leading Texas.
If the Aggies lose, their spot in the Super League and the attached monetary benefits would be claimed by Baylor, who have won the Southwest Division in the 'B' league.
If the Aggies were to pull off the upset, however, it would be Arkansas that would suffer the drop, as the announcers would no doubt repeat breathlessly every five minutes. But I'd much rather hear that than Brent Musburger laconically reminding the TV audience that A&M needs the win to "go bowling!"
This scenario would also be the end of the BCS and non-BCS conference partition, instead creating a total football meritocracy. It would be prudent to include all FBS conference winners in the Super League's first year, with the hope that some could endure into the second. It is likely that Boise State, Utah, TCU, Colorado State and Fresno State could settle at the top indefinitely.
The penalty for recruiting violations, academic tampering, slush funds, and fake jobs would be relegation. If three teams tie for the bottom two spots, the tie-breaker would be point differential.
This would not solve the playoff dilemma, and the existence of two leagues would encourage the creation of a playoff featuring the eight division winners to determine the national champion. However, it would alleviate the tiresome farce that fans are forced to experience each January with the bickering over who deserves to be in what bowl.
It would also purge the laughable claim of universities about how their actions are defined by the intention to preserve the "unique" tradition and integrity of the game. If college football is meant to be a lucrative business, that motivation should be exploited to create a product that would be unmatched by other American sports; infused with added drama and tension about staying in the top flight.
Of course, the sanctimonious attitude that prevails in college football would reject such a drastic evolution. But the greed impulse might be too powerful to resist.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!