First of all, this is a column about college football. College football is supposed to be fun, at least for us spectators. This column (and most subsequent) will attempt to follow that blueprint. You can get actual recaps, investigative journalism and written outrage (both real and feigned) elsewhere in greater quality and frequency. This is just my opinion on a topic that I love, that I think is a lot of fun.
That said, I’d be remiss to write a column today about college football without at least acknowledging the happenings in Waco, TX.
But I’m not going to write about them.
Not because I don’t have an opinion, but just because the story is where it is today already because of damn good reporting on the situation. A situation where said reporting is precisely why a school chancellor, athletic director and winningest football coach in school history are now unemployed. A situation that most followers of the sport look at and say “not at my school, not in my town”. Just like Penn State. Just like SMU. Just like West Point (old school — look it up).
But unlike Army (or *cough* NORTH CAROLINA *cough*), this isn’t about some cheating on a test or taking made up classes, which to be fair, happens at every institution of higher learning in this country, to athletes are regular kids alike.
No, this is just like Penn State, an incomprehensible, repeating abuse of power and crimes against fellow human beings that was covered up time and time again for the good of a sports team. And just like SMU, this deserves the death penalty.
The NCAA says that the death penalty (when a sport ceases to exist at a particular school for a set amount of time) is reserved for special cases, where the school is a habitual offender. I would argue that you can put the Baylor logo next to this definition now, and that this is exactly a situation that the death penalty was created for. Sure, a lot of guys on the team might be good decent young men, and didn’t know a thing about this. Let them either transfer to any school/team that will have them, with no loss eligibility. Or let them stay at Baylor with their friends to complete their degrees, with the school supporting them with their scholarship until the day they graduate.
But to those who knew? Coaches, administrators, etc.? I hope they, standing tall like the once mighty and plentiful american chestnut are wiped clear off the face of the map by a blight. This time, not an accidental asian fungus introduction, but a clear and decisive action by we the followers of this great sport.
That this is reprehensible.
That this is unacceptable.
That the lives ruined, tainted and displaced are more valuable to us as a populace than soon to be shitty again football at a school in the Big XII.
Folks lauded the hiring of Jim Grobe as the interim head coach at Baylor. That he’s a good and decent man. Cool story. But the good and decent thing would have been to step back, try to make your own assaulted students and former students made whole, and don’t worry about the pigskin this fall.
So much for not talking about that.
We’re #blessed here at Maintain 55 and Nerd and Long that we don’t have to put out as much content as most blogs/podcasts do. We cover a pretty wide variety of topics, and as such we can pick and choose what we want to talk about and still have a ton to cover each week.
Poor college football writers.
Because between the last game and the first game, there ain’t shit going on.
Sure, signing day, spring meetings, Jim Harbaugh said this, Nick Saban said this, blah blah blah.
I’ll be playing NCAA 14 on my PS3 until September — good luck to the rest of you.
But the last couple of years, the prospect of potential unrelenting, unyielding realignment has given us all a lot to write and talk about. What’s best for my school, your school, all our schools, etc. Is it about money? Eyes on TV sets? Furthering a conferences reach with a now outdated cable network model? Or heaven forbid, is it about (gasp) geography and historical rivalries that mean something to folks on both sides?
Two great articles by two routinely enjoyable writers are required reading beyond this point- Stewart Mandel suggests a relegation/demotion type format for college football, consolidating the power among the few. Whereas Andy Staples proposes a bigger format, trying to restore some traditional rivalries we’ve lost in years past.
I’m more partial to Andy’s idea with a twist. Instead of 4, 16 team super conferences, lets tweak ever so slightly to 8, 8 team conferences. Same number of teams, but different post-season format. Oh, and with RELEGATION.
We’d have three layers of Division I football — The Top of the Top, whatever you want to call it. I’d suggest a rotating corporate sponsorship, such as the BUD LIGHT (responsible drinking is only for those over 21, so not half the college kids that are in this stadium so why should an alcohol company be advertising at a college event?) League Of Teams That Matter This Year.
And Everybody Else.
Everybody Else governs themselves just like FCS does now — geographically sensible conferences and affiliations, with a post-season set up in a playoff format. TV deals are free to be negotiated by individual schools or conferences, however the consenting parties see fit. However, since a lot of the schools in this grouping use public money (either collected via taxes OR fees charged to undergraduate to prop up the athletics department) any and all contests involving said teams that use said public monies must be made available for public viewing within their state of residence, either on free broadcast television, and or internet viewing. Sure, you can sell ads and pocket that revenue, even in your free broadcasts. But until your athletics department is made whole entirely of privately raised or donated money, we get to watch for free. Cause we’re paying for it anyway.
The Gauntlet — basically a throwing of your hate into the ring. You’re not in the top 64, but you aspire to be. Good for you! Only schools that toss their names into/for The Gauntlet are eligible for promotion. Promotion is determined by points — you get one point for beating an Everybody Else, but only if they finish with a WINNING (like BETTER than 6–6) record. You get two points for beating other Gauntlet teams, three points if that team finishes with a winning record. Five points if that team finishes in The Gauntlet Top 7. And because App. State over Michigan and JMU over Virginia Tech are just sooo much fun, if a Gauntlet team beats a Top Tier team… The Gauntlet team gets 8 points. Media rights for The Gauntlet will be handled just like Everyone Else. Gauntlet teams can choose to be alligned with a conference of Everybody Else’s, but they won’t get a lot of points doing so… So I’d theorize that we’d see a lot of Gauntlet on Gauntlet action.
At the end of the 11 game regular season, the top 3 teams based on points will be in the clear for promotion to the Top Tier. Teams 4–7 will compete in a seeded tournament (4 v 7, 5 v 6, etc.) for the final promotion spot that will be reseeded after the first game, and each game played at the lowest seeds home stadium. Media rights for this tournament will be controlled by the Top Tier, but the home team will keep all gate, concession and parking revenue. All four teams participating in this tournament will have their expenses covered by the Top Tier (including travel for team, band cheerleaders, etc., special tournament jerseys that are the players to keep) and their players will get awesome swag bags like FBS teams do at bowl games at the present. If there exists a situation where any number of the Top 3 are tied with lower scoring teams, the tournament will be reformatted on a pre-determined model, with head-head victories counting as tie breakers, and no team playing more than 14 games total.
(So if 1 and 2 are tops, and 3 is tied with 4, etc., than a 6 team tournament will be mandated (in which team finishing 8 is added), with 3 and 4 getting a first round bye. If the two spot is a tie, an eight team tournament with no byes, including the 9th overall team. If the one spot is tied, eight team tournament, no byes, 1–8 teams involved. In years where more than one spot for promotion is at stake, the winner of the tournament will be promoted, along with the other subsequent highest Gauntlet Point scoring teams. So years that two teams are coming out of the tourney (say 1–2 are clearly promoted, 3–8 tourney) the champion and next highest total season (including tournament Gantlet points) are promoted.)
Oh yeah, and for any seniors that are on Gauntlet teams that are promoted? Extra year of eligibility if they want it. Because thats just awesome.
The Top Tier — 11 regular season games, 7 against your conference members, 4 of your choosing. But choose carefully! Each conference winner is determined by conference record. In cases of ties, head-to-heads are the trump card. In case of three or more way ties (multiple teams are 7–1, with losses being to each other, etc.) it comes down to Top Tier Points. One point for each Top Tier win, two points if that team has a winning record. NO POINTS for wins against the lower divisions. So play them if you think you need a tune-up, but it could cost you.
Scheduling can only be done two years out and when scheduling a fellow Top Tier member, must be a home-home affair. Top Tier teams are allowed neutral site games against other Top Tier opponents, but only once every three years (sorry Coach Saban!). If you schedule a home-home with a team that gets relegated…sucks. Still on the books. If you’re at risk of being relegated and as a result no one wants to play you… Sucks. I’m sure lots of Gauntlet teams would love to line up and try to kick your nuts in! Top Tier teams are only allowed to schedule down to Gauntlet teams, no Everybody Else’s. Each Top Tier team must play at least one true road Top Tier non-conference game each year. Conference schedules will be four at home, four away. You’ll alternate with the teams in your conference, and if one is relegated, the new team will take their place.
Each team (at all levels) are allowed three historical rivalries. These rivalries must be agreed to by both schools and approved by a governing politburo. You can only petition the politburo to change your rivalries once every six years. Only when a team is your historic rival can you play them if you’re separated by tiers. So Alabama could play Auburn, even if Auburn was a Everybody Else. No points, but c’mon, you gotta have that game.
A Top Tier team is allowed to pay a Gauntlet teams expenses in return for a non-renewing one year game contract, but no other monetary payment is allowed. I realize that a lot of schools float their athletics budget on football, and their football budget is dependent on getting these big check to go get slaughtered in Tuscaloosa or Ann Arbor or Austin, etc. No more. Find your own damn funding. Big football is going to keep what big football kills, dollars wise, and reinvest that revenue in player safety and compensation.
Player compensation?!? You’re god damn right! More on that in a second.
Schools will keep their own gate, parking and concessions. But the media rights for all Top Tier games are negotiated COLLECTIVELY. Yep, no more squabbling over whether the Big 10/11/14 or SEC makes more money, we all make the same! Huzzah Uncle Bernie! Top Tier games must be shown on broadcast TV or on the internet for free in states that they are broadcast from, and or in which have teams participating or are conference affiliates. Due to this requirement, a one or two media partner bidding situation is not feasible. There will be lot of partners, but all revenue goes to a central place is a divided equally among member teams. Despite being forced into this free to watch for most model, all advertising revenue is part of the collectively bargained price with media partners, on all platforms.
Whatever money you get out of that, here’s how you break it down:
No more million dollar conference commissioners — each schools will have a tenured member of their faculty on the aforementioned politburo. That politburo will negotiate the media deals each season, decide on issues of student athlete well being, hand out discipline for academic and legal infractions (yep, no more bullshit in-house violation of team rules) and be compensated $50K annually (on top of what they’re already making) for their time. Which is $ 3.2 million, less than what Pac 12 Commissioner Larry Scott makes by himself. Politburo members whose schools remain in the Top Tier will serve a three year term and then be re-chosen by their fellow faculty, with no input via the schools athletics administration. A faculty member may serve a 2nd three year term after their successor(s) has completed a term, or if their team is relegated and promoted, etc.
15% of total revenue is divided evenly among the Top Tier teams, and then divided evenly among that team based on roster spots. It is a teams decision whether to divide those dollar just to their 105 (or less depending on roster size/year) scholarship players or to include walk-ons and practice team players as well. Teams must disclose that intention to those players in the spring prior to the Top Tier season.
The politburo will negotiate broad likeness compensation for players to be split evenly for things such as video games, but issues like a team being able to sell a players jersey is between the player, the team/school and the apparel company that would stand to profit. Not all players will have the same compensation, or even compensation potential in this area.
The rest of the revenue is divided equally among the 64 teams that participated in the season. The politburo will annually determine a % not to exceed 25% that all teams and athletic departments must turn over to the general university fund. The rest of the money is to used, saved and invested at the athletic departments discretion.
Post-season — After the 11 game regular season has concluded, the 8 team playoff will commence. Scheduling and a potential bye week before or even during the playoff will be decided by the politburo in the spring prior to the season, with the most consideration placed on the well being of the players in relation to off time for exams and holidays. All teams in the playoff will have identical hours available for practice.
Like the Gauntlet, the playoff will be re-seeded after each round. The first round will take place at the lower seeds home stadium, the 2nd round will be rotated among bidding traditional bowl sites, and the national championship game will be hosted by whatever stadium is selected with the winning bid. The politburo will make every attempt to stage the final four on or around a date near Jan. 1st but only on a weekend day or holiday Friday/Monday where most of the working public would not be reporting for duty. All attempts to avoid Dec. 31st will be made, but if it is the most logical day, games should be played in the early afternoon and late afternoon. Media partners and bidders will be aware of this well in advance, and this may devalue certain years in relation to others. With the exception of the New Years/final four games, all playoff games must be played on Saturdays, and all playoff games can not kick off at a time later than 7 PM EST.
The remaining teams outside the top 8 that both finish in the top 32 of the 64 (24 possible) based on Top Tier points, and have a record of 7–4 or better will be eligible for a bowl game. If 24 teams that do not meet this criteria are available, all 7–4 or better teams will be made available. If the 24 bowl spots can still not be filled, there will be less than 12 bowl games. Bowl games are free to choose whatever consenting teams they’d like in whatever matchup. Bowl games can be played anytime after the final week of the season, prior to the final four games. Bowl game can not take place during the same time as any playoff game or Gauntlet tournament game, but may take place on any day of the week, and any time the bowl organizers see fit. Based on the uncertainty of available teams from year-year, bowls will exist outside the collectively bargained media rights for the Top Tier regular season and playoff, and no restrictions shall be placed on their broadcasting and distribution. All bowl revenue (after participating teams expenses are paid) will go to the Top Tier to be divided among all 64 teams.
The four teams with the worst records are relegated. In cases of ties for record, head-head records, then Top Tier points will count. If still tied, we’ll have a game between the teams tied to see who gets to stay up. Coin flip to determine who hosts, ticket sales must be split 50/50.
Get it! Good! Simple, right?
So here’s my breakdown if we started this for the 2016 season. Remember, the Power 5 Conferences (plus Notre Dame) equal 65 teams, so at least one of those 65 is getting relegated right now. Fuck it, lets relegate a few more. Again, this is all based on geography, historical rivalries, and trying to keep teams in the same state together.
North Dakota State
Sure, North Dakota State didn’t even play FBS last year. But do you honestly think they’re doing less than 4–4 against this group? Wait, where’s Kansas? THEY DON’T DESERVE TO BE HERE.
Just like the Pac 12 was pre Arizona schools, minus Berkley because they’ve sucked for a while, and plus Boise State.
There used to be a Southwest Conference, that was essentially partially disbanded because everyone kept cheating. I’m sure it’ll go much better this time! I had Baylor in here previously, but fuck them. They’re at the kitty tables in my pretend realignment scenario. And as long as Tom Herman’s at Houston, they’re probably winning this at least for the next year or two.
Big 10 minus the really shitty teams
Bored with this one? Yeah, me too. Lets move on to one even worse.
Not wanting to be in the Big 10 FINALLY catches up to Notre Dame! Enjoy Morgantown guys! If we wanted to get Top Tier down to 50, I think a lot of teams in this group are porked… Syracuse/Rutgers/BC are all sort of interchangeably horrible at the moment. I just went with my guy and left New Jersey out of the equation.
Sure you could argue Virginia Tech isn’t a historical ACC team. But geography. And we’ve won it more times then most teams that have been in its inception in the 50's, and its my list damn it!
SEC, or Diet Racism
I know I said I wanted to keep schools in the same state together, but I feel like all parties in GA and SC are happier being on different sides of the fence. Putting the big 3 Florida schools together makes this one a potential annual grinder. But hey, Mark Richt playing UGA every year :)
Bible Belt, or Racism Classic
Originally had A&M here and Vandy out. But Baylor happened, A&M really belong with the other Texas teams, and Vandy shouldn’t bitch about where they are — should just be happy they’re here — for now…
Who’s out among the current Power 5?
Who’s up from the Other 5?
So there you go, college football fixed. Except for Baylor.