We’re talking about a commissioner for major college football: the Power 5 or the entire FBS.
The commissioner concept has traction among some prominent coaches, frustrated with a factionalized process. Others argue that college football isn’t set up for a commissioner and urge greater coach engagement and faith in a still-evolving legislative structure.
But after the satellite camp silliness, it’s foolish to discount an alternative.
“There’s a great need,” Tennessee coach Butch Jones said, “for leadership.”
Coming from the man who used to (past tense, supposedly) get serial heads-up from the Knoxville police department when his charges wound up on the wrong side of the law, that’s a bit rich. Leader, lead thyself.
Not that he’s alone in that sentiment, or in putting forth dumb support for it.
Stanford coach David Shaw prefaces his remarks by restating he’s not going to the NFL — since everyone asks — but he is a product of the league, having worked for three NFL teams from 1997 to 2005. The NFL’s administrative structure shapes his perception.
Shaw thinks the launch of the College Football Playoff marked the “end of the old ways,” and mandates greater standardization in areas like scheduling, recruiting rules and staff sizes.
“When we get to a point where we can normalize our lives as Power 5 college football,” Shaw said, “then you’d love to have a committee and then on top of that, a commissioner, someone who doesn’t work for anybody other than college football. It would make the absolute most sense.
“We’re no longer complete and separate entities. We’re all feeding into one system.”
Tell that to ESPN when it comes time for the Pac-12 to negotiate its next broadcast deal, man. I’m sure it’ll go over well.
And then there’s the question of who gets to run the asylum. Hey, let’s ask Nick Saban for a suggestion!
Like Shaw, Saban coached in the NFL and appreciates how the NFL’s model — led by a commissioner but also committees with team representation, like the competition committee — shapes policy for all 32 organizations rather than 2-3 divisions.
“It would be good if there was somebody, and I don’t know who, but somebody that looked at the game from 1,000 feet,” Saban said. “Not as an AD. Not as a conference commissioner. Not as an offensive guy or a defensive guy, but somebody who’s looking at it from the entire scope.
“It’s not what’s best for the SEC or the Big Ten or the Pac-12, but what’s best for the game. That way, there’s no self-interest.”
Blutarsky’s Rule: Any time someone suggests having a background in the NFL is a plus for making suggestions to improve college football, walk away.
I’d go on a rant here about how college football’s one saving grace right now in antitrust court is that there is some real competition between the conferences and that doing what these coaches suggest would immediately trash that, but I think I’ll simply state that if even Bob Bowlsby – Bob Bowlsby, for Gawd’s sake – knows this won’t work…
Added Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby: “The idea of having a commissioner over football is probably imposing a structure over college sports that is better in place for professional sports.”
… it really is a brain-dead suggestion.
As for who would make a good CFB commissioner, I have a better candidate than anyone on Rittenberg’s list: Donald Trump. After all, he’s got professional football league management experience. Who better to make College Football Great Again?