Abe Vigoda, the 12 game schedule and the NCAA

Man, I thought I was cynical. Brian at mgoblog starts out with a major jab at Michigan’s use of the 12 game schedule to load up with nobodies at the expense of home ticket buyers, makes a neat turn with this:

And for what? For who? Where are all the skyrocketing television fees complete with extra commercials that used to be, you know, gameplay going? Where are the PSLs going? Where is my ticket to Eastern Michigan going?

This guy. Basically. One might be forgiven for thinking that the NCAA has ceased to be an actual regulatory organization and is instead a highly complex scheme for funneling money into Nick Saban’s Scrooge McDuck vault, where he puts on an old-fashioned unitard bathing suit and gleefully leaps into his piles of gold coins…

and then makes a quick right to take a shot at two of my favorite targets:

… The average player is not 66% better off. He still gets the same deal he did in 1950. The average fan is certainly much worse off, being milked for PSLs and Vandy-At-Best exhibitions. The only people benefiting are already excessively-compensated coaches and ESPN, because ESPN always benefits. [Emphasis added.]

Bravo!

And that’s not even what I wanted to post about here. What I really wanted to comment about is what he raises towards the end of his post.

First, he links to an article that contains Lloyd Carr’s thoughts on what’s wrong with college football. Carr is bitter about several things (some of which I definitely agree with), such as the never-ending focus on revenue, night games, twelve game schedules and the creeping growth of the bowl schedule into January that he feels have impacted college football to its detriment.

So far, so good. But Carr goes astray in a couple of ways. He argues that college football needs a sixteen team playoff to compensate for going to a twelve game schedule. Huh? He’s complaining about how the longer schedule has negatively impacted his players and his solution is to have some of them play as many as four more games? Coach, that does not compute.

The other wrong sounding note in Carr’s screed is his choice in assigning the blame for the above to the NCAA. Now, my lack of admiration for the NCAA is about on Carr’s level, but I don’t see how you can blame the NCAA for the proliferation of bowl games or the influence of ESPN on college football these days. The NCAA isn’t directly involved in either area, much to its chagrin.

That attitude is reflected in this rather huffy piece that Carr evidently inspired at the NCAA’s Double-A Zone blog. (I can almost hear the author’s sniff as he writes, “(i)f Carr truly has a gripe about when Michigan is playing its football games, he should get on the horn with athletics director Bill Martin and Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany. Those are the guys responsible for the school’s contracts and schedule, not the NCAA national office.”)

Once you get past the snideness directed at Carr, there are some valid points. For one:

… The NCAA makes most of its money from its contract with CBS, which pays for the broadcast rights to the Division I men’s basketball tournament, as well as other championship events, such as last weekend’s track and field championship. Conferences and institutions work out the contracts for regular season football games, not the NCAA. Revenue derived from Division I football is quite small for the NCAA.

And that revenue is important for things other than Nick Saban’s salary:

I often defend the NCAA’s need to maximize revenues. With more than 1,000 member institutions with broad-based athletics programs, money is needed to support non-revenue sports…

True. But what’s glossed over by both Carr and Josh Centor is that for many D-1 schools, it’s college football that generates most of the revenue for an athletic department’s budget. And if I’m a somewhat sane AD at a somewhat sane D-1 school (not Mal Moore, in other words), I’m going to have to look closely at what ESPN’s offering in terms of TV coverage for my football team, like it or not.

Of course, my favorite part of Centor’s post is this:

… Carr makes the point that a playoff structure would be more appropriate for Division I-A football. I agree with him. The bottom line is that presidents and chancellors like the bowl structure for a number of reasons – publicity and institutional revenue among the most popular.

Yep. And wouldn’t the NCAA like to get its hands on that? And wouldn’t a playoff be exactly what the doc ordered?  I understand what he means by “appropriate”.

Finally, I must admit that if the NCAA ever did agree to implement Brian’s five four point plan (without being sued by any of its member schools), I’d certainly cheer them on. I’m just not holding my breath.

I’m not sure how this helps college football, but, on the other hand, it can’t hurt. Just sayin’, Ryan.

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