OK. First let me state that college football is not broken. It's the best sport in the world. There is nothing better than Saturdays in the fall. This is especially true if, like me, you live in SEC country. But it is not perfect. We all know that. Just ask TCU.
But one of the unique things about college football is there is no tournament to decide its champion. This is blasphemy to some. But let me give you some numbers:
Bowl games: 28 communities
35 bowl champions
7,000 student athletes
1.8 million fans
145 million TV households
$260 million to universities
$1 billion in economic impact
This is straight out of the program issued at the Gator Bowl game, which I covered for Bleacher Report last Saturday.
The numbers that stick out to me are these: 35 bowl champions, 28 communities, $1 billion in economic impact.
In my home state, there are six of these games. Take the Great Depression II where you live, and multiply it by 10. That's what it is like here. Twelve percent unemployment and that's because the other 88 gave up. Take those six bowl games away or render them useless, and it would really hurt.
But there needs to be a way to do this without having to argue who the No. 1 team is at the end. This year is a done deal already. TCU fans, and rightfully so, believe they are the best. Nobody can prove otherwise. By the way, AP, do the right thing and vote them National Champs. They deserve it. If for no other reason, because they didn't cheat!
So here is how to fix this without totally blowing up the entire system. It's so easy, I can't believe nobody has thought of this already.
Now that we are realigning conferences, old rivalries be damned, let's just do this thing right.
Step One: Have eight 12-team conferences with two divisions consisting of six teams. That gives us 96 teams in Division 1-A football. That is plenty. There are maybe 40 teams who have a legitimate shot at EVER winning a National Championship. Not next year. EVER! So 96 is more than plenty. Everyone else joins Division 1-AA.
Step Two: Scheduling. Twelve regular season games. Each team must play all five teams within its division. Each team must play three teams in the other division of its own conference. Four of these games will be at home and four on the road. If this means the OU-Texas game and the UF-UGA game have to be moved on campus, then those are the the breaks. Then non-conference games will be scheduled within the other seven conferences. Each team will play two home and two away games.
So each school will play six home games and six away games. And they will also play all 12 games within the 96 Division 1-A schools. This will eliminate the moaning about how Boise State and TCU don't play anybody while Alabama, Oklahoma, Florida and USC play Murderer's Row.
All regular season games must be played by Thanksgiving weekend. This will lead us to...
Step Three: The weekend after Thanksgiving will be for conference championship games. The division winners will square off with one game on primetime on Friday Night, and the other three on Saturday in a triple-header.
The winners of those four games will move automatically to one of the BCS Bowls. They will be seeded 1-8 with 1 vs. 8, 2 vs. 7, 3 vs. 6 and 4 vs. 5. The Orange Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Rose Bowl and Fiesta Bowl will host these games. ALL OTHER BOWLS must be completed before kickoff of the first of these games. These games will be played the Friday and Saturday following New Year's Day.
Step Four: The winners of the four BCS Games will meet the following weekend at two of the BCS Bowl sites, which will rotate annually. Odd years can be Pasadena and Glendale hosting, and even years can be Miami and New Orleans.
Step Five: The BCS National Championship Game will be played the following week between the two winners.
Step Six: And this is my favorite one. Since Division 1-AA schools depend on playing the "Big Boys" of college football to help bring money into their athletic programs, and since the "Big Boys" will undoubtedly scream bloody murder at having only six home games, there is a solution. Spring football. Make spring football actually mean something. Allow two annual spring football games between Division 1-A and Division 1-AA opponents.
SEC fans will pack stadiums for this. So will the Big Ten, Big 12 and others. The games will be lopsided, so everyone will get to play. AND it will be a REAL game. Not some glorified practice like we have now, where you can't tackle the quarterbacks. The small schools get their big checks and the big schools get their eight home games. Everybody wins.
Step Seven: All bowl teams must win at least six games. If there are 48 teams with six wins, then there can only be 24 bowl games. Some bowls will get eliminated. Oh well. Do we REALLY need 35? There are three bowl games in Dallas, Texas alone! Why? Why are there two in San Diego? And two in Orlando? And two in New Orleans? And two in the Phoenix area? Is that necessary?
This way we will not destroy the bowl system. Teams who have winning seasons will still get a reward for it. The cities who host these games will still get their economic boost. But most of all, regular season schedules will get even better and more balanced. AND we will KNOW, without a doubt, which team is No. 1 at the end.
And here is the kicker. No more will there be a reason for Alabama not to schedule Texas in the regular season. No more reason for Florida not to play Ohio State either. Because as long as you win your division, you will make the "playoffs."
Simple really. I can't believe we haven't done this already.