Tony Barnhart offers the five changes to college football that he’d make if he were granted god-like powers over the sport:
1. Freshmen are ineligible: Many of the ills in college football can be traced back to the decision to make freshmen eligible in 1971. Too many 18-year-olds become stars of the recruiting process (and their own minds) and have press conferences before they have attended a single college class. College coaches have to make promises of playing time that they know they can’t keep. Then they have to “de-recruit” the freshmen once they get on campus. Just end the silliness. You sit out the first year and prove you can handle the academics. Then you get four more years of eligibility.
2. Four team playoff using the bowls: It’s taken me a while to get around to this. I’m a traditionalist and I’m proud of it. But if it’s handled properly, this could be the biggest shot in the arm that college football has ever had. [Emphasis added.] The calendar is in place to play the semifinals on Jan. 1 and the championship on Jan. 8. Rotate the semifinals and finals among four bowls and open up the process and allow other bowls to bid. And if the Big Ten and Pac-10 don’t want to play and stay in their own sandbox in Pasadena (Rose Bowl), that’s fine. As soon as a 12-0 Ohio State gets left out the national championship game, that tune will change.
3. You MUST win your conference championship: No team can play for the national championship or get into the four-team playoff without winning its conference championship. The idea of an Ohio State-Michigan rematch for the BCS title was silly. Michigan had their shot. College football has the healthiest regular season of any sport because conference championships are so important.
4. Polls don’t start until mid-October: This won’t happen because too many people have a financial interest in the current system. But there is a reason the BCS standings are not released until a number of games are played. If you’re going to use the polls to determine who plays in the national championship game, then the only fair thing to do is not to release then until after some games are played.
5. Early signing date: It’s bad for coaches. I’ll admit that. They will have to spend too much of their fall recruiting instead of taking care of the players they have. But it would be good for the high school players, who are committing earlier and earlier. And it would also take some of the pressure and the silliness out of the final weeks of recruiting. Too much money is being spent babysitting players who have already given a verbal commitment and are just waiting to sign. If they want to sign in December, then let them.
If I read his college football playoff proposals accurately, he’s just devised a national championship game that excludes Notre Dame (not in a conference), Ohio State (Big Ten), Michigan (Big Ten) and Southern Cal (Pac-10) to start with.
That’s one helluva “shot in the arm”. And why does college football need a “shot” in the first place?