I must admit, college football is a beautiful thing. I love watching the game for its imperfections, variety, and emotion. On 12 Saturdays every fall, teams from across the country line up to play for little more than school pride, honor, and victory (oh yeah, and a shot at making millions in the NFL).
Simply put, these guys have everything to prove—not only to themselves, but to their fellow students, fans, and alums.
In my opinion, the greatest thing about college football is that every game counts. In college, a 60 percent winning rate gets coaches fired. In the NFL, it gives you a shot at the playoffs.
In college, you play your biggest rivals once a year. In the pros, you play your divisional opponents twice. Something about that never made sense to me.
The bottom line is that any changes made to the game have to be for the better and without tarnishing or diluting the game. Here are the five things I would change:
1. Institute a Playoff System
I must admit that I miss the chaos of the pre-BCS/Bowl Coalition New Year’s Day bowl scene. A full day of football followed by a smoke-filled room decision on who became the national champion wasn’t a bad thing in hindsight.
Simply put—the BCS system is a mess.
Before everyone gets carried away with the anti-BCS maelstrom, we should all remember that the system was put in place to have the No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup to decide the champion on the field. To date, the system has done a fairly good job.
What I dislike most about the current system is the politicking and jockeying for position that goes on throughout the season to gain a spot in one of the five games. A simple solution to this would be to install a six- or eight-team playoff system that incorporates the current BCS bowl alliances.
Here is how I think it would work:
A) Reduce the number of games played by each team from 12 to 11. You will see why in just a minute.
B) With an eight-team playoff (which I would prefer), you need seven games to decide a champion. Take the current bowl alliance (Rose, Fiesta, Sugar, Orange), each hosting the championship game once every four years, and add the Cotton and Citrus Bowls as the other two sites hosting games.
Round one utilizes the Cotton, Citrus, championship host site, and one of the other three (perhaps the host of the previous year’s championship game?) and round two uses the other two—three crazy weeks intermingled with the holidays. Can anything be better?
C) On timing: The first round would take place during the week of Christmas, the second around New Year’s Day (preferably on, but I’ll take what I can get), and the championship a week later.
D) On qualifiers: To be honest, I think automatic qualifiers should be thrown out the window. Once the “regular” season is over, most rational people could agree on what eight teams were the best throughout the season and deserve a ticket to the big dance. If three teams come from the same conference, who cares? If a particular conference isn’t represented, better luck next year.
E) Three additional games for the two teams playing in the championship game (plus one in a conference championship game), results in just 15 games in a season. There is no sound argument by college presidents to say that players are playing in too many games.
Of course, a playoff system will only get implemented once university presidents and the NCAA figure out how to make more money utilizing one than they do in the current system.
Perhaps it will take a few split national champions (after all, the AP is not obligated to vote the BCS champion as its champion) or maybe just a lightning bolt of common sense to hit those in control.
2. Disallow D-IA (or FBS) Teams from Playing D-IAA (or FCS) Teams
Does anyone really want to watch Big State U vs. Tiny School from where? Not me.
In order to increase the level of competition and have watchable games on a weekly basis, I would disallow this practice. At bare minimum, wins in these games shouldn’t count.
3. Eliminate Conference Affiliations for Officials
How would I describe the officiating across the board this year? "Atrocious," "abysmal," "appalling," and "awful" come to mind. And that is just the A’s.
Combine the adjectives with the fact that I am convinced that replay officials don’t understand the meaning of indisputable video evidence, and you have a recipe for games to be in the hands of the men in stripes—which is exactly where it doesn’t belong.
4. Eliminate Preseason Polls
Basing a team’s potential on its previous season can only go so far. Let’s get rid of the preseason rankings and start the polling process the first week in October. By that time, teams have played a minimum of four games and the “experts” can make informed decisions about who belongs in the Top 25.
Also, let’s completely ban the practice of head coaches making a public case for where they feel their team should be ranked. Can’t we just let the on-field product speak for itself?
5. Completely Overhaul the Overtime Rules
Who thought it was a good idea to start teams in field goal range? It absolutely does not make sense—never did, never will. I do like that both teams get the opportunity to score, so that will remain in my new system, as follows:
A) Each team starts with the ball at the 50-yard line. That way, you actually have to make a few first downs in order to score. If you think that is too far away, then I would settle for the 40, but no closer.
B) Each team gets one timeout per overtime session and each coach gets one challenge for the entire overtime.
C) Teams are required to go for two points starting in the second overtime. Most OT games don’t get to this point anyway, so what does it really matter?
D) If the game is still tied after three OTs, it ends in a tie. What is so bad about a tie anyway? If after 60 minutes and three OT sessions the score is even, then I call the game even. The world didn’t end before OT when plenty of games ended in a tie, nor will it if the rules get changed.
E) The last team to score in regulation is required to take the ball first in overtime. You may not feel this is fair, but I think it makes sense and eliminates another coin flip.
Well, there you have it. My ways to make what is already a great thing just a little bit better. By no means do I think what I have proposed is perfect, but it couldn’t hurt anything. Or could it?