Spencer Hall reiterates something I’ve written more than once here (minus the mountain dwarves, of course):
NFL and NBA can work its singular magic because the owners are in charge via the Commissioner. The central control model also applies to college basketball. The individual conferences succumbed to the NCAA’s charms long ago, ceding control of the national scale product and leaving conferences with generous checks and the sideshows of conference championships. The committee running college basketball, like many important committees, are a shadowy cabal of mountain dwarves who never do interviews. They declined interviews for this piece by claiming not to exist.
The people in charge of college football are not actually secret mountain dwarves. Correction: Mike Slive may be one. He’s tiny, mysterious, friendly, and more often than not prefers to do his interviews in subterranean offices well past the reach of the sun’s rays. He is a really, really nice mountain dwarf.
The rest of them, though, are easy enough to find. They are the Presidents of BCS Universities, and the conference commissioners who work with television networks to construct something of value. Those television networks, by virtue of having large amounts of cash, matter in this power structure, especially when they can deal with conferences and those commissioners both in the aggregate — at the BCS level, or whatever it will be come 2016 — and at the particulate level. Conferences can cash checks twice, and sometimes three or four times over in this system. They would certainly prefer to keep doing just that.
The issue of an ending is particularly problematic for college football, and here’s where the great fork between college basketball and college football arrives with serious speed. The revenue for football exceeds that of basketball, save for a few huge programs who are outliers in the pattern. It would be football writer-stupid to savage college basketball for “needing” the tournament, but the sport is so diffuse it would be pointless to argue its importance to college basketball, either…
This is why the “they have playoffs in every other sport, so why can’t college football” argument is… well, if not dumb, certainly irrelevant. Revenue generating sports don’t have postseasons to settle things on the field. They have them – they’ve always had them – to make money. So when you have one such sport which is structurally different in how it’s organized from every other, it really doesn’t matter what everyone else does.
Just keep in mind that when it comes to a D-1 football playoff, the ends most definitely don’t justify the means for people like Slive and Delany. Unless by “the ends” you mean maximizing their revenue streams.