Back in the saddle again

Tony Barnhart has taken his act from the AJ-C to and starts his posting there with a series of modest proposals to fix what’s ailing college football.

1. Find a way for the top 60 to 70 schools that play major college football to work independently from the NCAA. The sport has become too big to be managed within in the limitations of the NCAA framework. If a way cannot be found to accommodate these schools then they should leave the NCAA and form their own organization and make their own rules.

2. Create a commissioner of college football. My CBS colleague Tim Brando has been saying this for years, and he’s right. Somebody needs to be in charge for the good of the entire sport. On cases like Cam Newton and the Ohio State Five, the commissioner has the last word. He or she will have zero tolerance for cheating (and there is a difference between cheating and breaking the rules). Only a strong commissioner, backed up by the presidents, can bring the risk-reward for cheating back into balance.

3. Freshmen will be declared ineligible. There is a whole host of pathologies that are created by a recruiting process that tells 18-year-old children they are stars and should be treated (and paid) like one. Until 1972, freshmen were not eligible to play. There was a reason for that. Most are not mature enough, emotionally or academically, to commit to big-time college football. It’s simple. If you make your grades as a freshman and prove that you can handle college life, then you get to play as a sophomore. Would this be tough to do with only 85 scholarships? Yep. But it’s for the greater good. This will never happen, but it would address a lot of ills.

4. Football scholarships become five-year commitments by the school. In exchange for giving up freshman eligibility, the student athlete will get a five-year guaranteed scholarship if he stays in good academic standing and doesn’t get in trouble with the law. The one-year scholarship is a bad deal for the students. Red-shirting is eliminated. And one other thing: No oversigning. No gray-shirting. You sign a kid and he gets a scholarship. Period.

5. Change the scholarship to include the full cost of attendance. The top academic scholarships include a stipend for incidental living expenses based on the location of the campus. Athletic scholarships should do the same. This stipend of several thousand dollars (plus a Pell Grant that can be as much as $5,500) takes the argument off the table that athletes from poor backgrounds do not have spending money. The NCAA has a Student Opportunity fund of more than $50 million available to help students in need (clothes, trips home in an emergency, etc.).

That’s a pretty mixed bag there.  I love #1, although I’d set the number at either 64 or 80, so that you could construct a playoff format composed of conference champs only (schwinggg!).  #2 doesn’t make much sense, given that the conferences act independently from each other.  (Besides, I thought that’s what Mark Emmert was for, sort of.)  Adoption of #3 would mean that coaches would only have the services of the best players in the game for two seasons.  You can call that puppy DOA.  I like #4 and #5, because they’re both oriented towards the student athletes – which means they stand little chance of happening.


Filed under College Football, Media Punditry/Foibles

8 responses to “Back in the saddle again

  1. Macallanlover

    Agree with you, Senator. #1 can, and should, be done. It would get us to where most everyone wants to be. Time to recognize that the top group of football schools have different needs than the mid-majors, also rans. As to #2 is just a matter of Emmert being the new poster child of the Peter Principle. If a Commish were appointed for the new group of top CFB teams as suggested in #1, that could solve the problem since this group accounts for 90%+ of the cheating cases anyway.


  2. NM

    #1 sort of explains why Emmert isn’t that. He’s in charge of the NCAA bureaucracy, which delegates important decisions to various committees and commissions. He is as much responsible for Division III softball as he is for BCS-level football, and that leads to all kinds of problems.


  3. Dog in Fla

    Tony has much tougher duty at CBS than he had at the AJC where all he had to do was be better than Shultz and Bark Madly. This is Tony’s strength and conditioning for the research mission on his series of modest proposals in, “Action Needed with College Football’s Integrity On the Line”:


  4. 69Dawg

    If #3 happens then College footballs elite would be just like basketball except it would be 2 and done. Number one just creates a BCS football league and the lower programs and conferences would scream bloody murder and sue. A head Commissioner ala NFL would be one powerful SOB especially if he had the final say.


    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      #3 is doable if the NCAA and the NFL went back to the old rule that a player was not eligible for the draft until his graduating class was eligible to graduate. That gets you at least 3 seasons from a player for sure. #4 is the trade-off for that. Those 2 together seem fair for the school and the kids.


      • ConnGator

        I agree, keep the kids in school an extra year is the answer. The only downside to this is season-ending injuries, but that can be addressed by a sixth year.


    • JasonC

      #1 is interesting though. Let’s say you did 80 teams like the Senator suggested which would give you 8 conferences of 10 teams and leave 38(?) schools out in the cold to join FCS or whatever.
      Then, if you forced those 80 teams to only play amongst themselves- no more Charleston Southern or crappy Directional Michigan/Louisiana games, some of the schools would have some tough decisions to make. I mean, Boise St would probably take a shot at it, but Miami (OH) probably doesn’t, right? Big risk for big rewards.


  5. shane#1

    It seems that old Tone is suggesting that CFB be run like a major money making sports league. With protection for the players and owners. That sounds like the NFL, except the owners are busting the players union. That is why these suggestions will never fly. Teams need that hot shot draft choice, er, freshman, to put butts in seats. Besides, the teams want to keep all the money. It would take an act of congress to straighten out this mess. Ooops, did I say that? Speaking of Auburn, who are they looking at in the free agent market to replace all those seniors and gangsters?