College Football: 170 Million Reasons Why a Playoff System Is a Long Way Off
When the college football season ended with two undefeated teams this year, it seemed as though there would at least be discussions about creating a Division I (FBS) playoff system.
Defenders of the BCS will claim that Auburn deserved to win the national title because they played a more difficult schedule than TCU.
Under the current system, Auburn absolutely earned their championship, but that doesn’t mean that they would have necessarily won if a playoff system existed.
It was reported this week that college football conferences will rake in $170 million from this year’s bowl games. Even the non-automatic qualifying conferences made out well (earning $24.7 million) due in large part to TCU’s participation in the Rose Bowl.
BCS officials pointed to the new television contract with ESPN as the main reason that the revenues were so high. This should come as no surprise since almost every bowl game was shown on ESPN. The only games that appeared on other networks were the AT&T Cotton Bowl, Ticketcity Bowl, Hyundai Sun Bowl and the Outback Bowl.
Even though the Outback Bowl was shown on ABC, they and ESPN are both owned by The Walt Disney Company, so in actuality there were only three bowl games that didn’t fall under the ESPN umbrella.
How long before there is a college football playoff system in place?
Many ESPN sportscasters and college football experts expressed on-air that they are in favor of some kind of playoff system. It seems a bit ironic that the money being paid out by their employer is actually making it easy for college athletic directors to stick with the status quo.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is in the exploratory stages of putting together a 12-16 team playoff system.
Under Cuban’s plan the bowl games would be able to run concurrently with the proposed playoffs. Cuban has said that college athletic directors have shown interest in his proposal and that his next move is to approach school presidents.
Cuban is proposing to pay these schools an unspecified amount of money every five years in exchange for their promise to play in the newly-created playoffs if their school is selected. It sounds good in theory, but it might be difficult to turn into a reality.
Whether a playoff system happens or not will all come down to money. Based on the amount of money paid out for this year’s bowl games, it is going to take a lot of cash to inspire college athletic directors and presidents to agree to any changes.
Contrary to what BCS supporters may say, this is not a matter of what is best for the student athletes. Simply put, playing in bowl games is the most lucrative option that is currently available to schools.
Anyone who believes otherwise should take note of the fact that college athletic directors and school presidents are in charge of both the football and basketball programs.
March Madness, by far the most exciting part of the college basketball season, takes place from March 15 – April 4, 2011. College football could easily complete an eight-team playoff in the same exact time span.
Unfortunately, the powers that be now have 170 million reasons to continue under the current system, so it is doubtful that a college football playoff is going to happen any time in the near future.
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