“We need someone we can trust to watch over all of college football.”

I got an email request over the weekend to put up a mention about Bill Connelly’s May post about nine fixes for college football (“Bill Connelly For College Football Commissioner“) to see what kind of discussion it might generate here.

To kick things off, I have to admit I wasn’t that overwhelmed by the package Bill came up with when I first read his piece.  There was nothing wrong with his student-athlete proposals (which is a good thing, because the minute college football names a commissioner, the jobs of every antitrust attorney suing the NCAA get a whole lot easier), and as long as anyone can come up with ways to shorten the games that don’t involve changing the rules, I’ll certainly listen.  The relegation stuff, though, is straight out of the fever dreams of soccer fetishists who think it’ll drop easy and clean into a world where schools field other sports besides football, those football teams don’t play round-robin conference schedules and, well, where there are five power conferences.

As for playoff expansion, I’ll say it again:  college football’s unique power and greatness lies in its regional appeal and its emphasis on a meaningful regular season.  The bigger the postseason, the more both of those factors are undercut.  For me, it’s not an improvement.

College football’s problem isn’t that it’s boring or that we’re sated.  It’s that the people running it are consumed with how much money they can make from it.  The issue with that is the entities writing the checks want things that aren’t necessarily compatible with keeping what’s great about the sport great.  Operating in a short attention span world, ESPN craves novelty and selling a national product.  The Jim Delanys of the college football world think they’re smart enough to balance their product on the knife’s edge between what Mickey wants to pay for and what we longtime fans want to watch.

Trust me, they’re not that smart.  And while Bill’s a damned smart guy, I’m far from certain he’s got all the answers, either.  Ultimately, though, it likely doesn’t matter, because I doubt Jim Delany’s listening to him any more than he is the rest of us.

And with that, I’ll open the floor.  Hit it in the comments.

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25 Comments

Filed under College Football

25 responses to ““We need someone we can trust to watch over all of college football.”

  1. Bright Idea

    Without reviewing the list again my first thought is that ticket prices are now officially insane. It tells me that those running the sport may really not care about having live audiences. They’d rather eat the tickets than lower the price it seems. I’m too ignorant to understand their thinking.

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    • Southernlawyer11

      Frankly, I wonder if many of these schools aren’t artificially tweeking the normal routes of supply and demand. I think that’s what the partnership with stubhub may ultimately come down to. It would not surprise me in the least if the Univeristy has straw man “Hartman fund” donors that are nothing more than stubhub bots.

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  2. Gaskilldawg

    I am intrigued by the 3 permanent SEC rivals idea, although I have not thought it through. I like the idea of players no each SEC team home and away over a 4 year period, but I do not like what it would do to the SEC championship game. Food for thought.
    I agree with his edict about television commercial time.

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  3. EvilRicht'sGoatee

    A few of the proposals mentioned are a little too radical and a few others are just not needed, but some of them are great. College football doesn’t need a commissioner to adopt the Olympic model. Athlete compensation has been discussed at length here at GTP. The installment of pods over conferences is decent way to fix the SEC scheduling issue that has arisen with conference expansion. But also, boooo playoff expansion.

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    • Conference pods are a creative suggestion, but you can fix SEC scheduling issues without reinventing the wheel simply by adding a ninth conference game.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Otto

        I do not see a problem with current scheduling.

        The pods are an interesting idea if conferences expand to 16 and the playoff expands with it.

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      • Otto

        Let me clarify I do not see a problem with 8 game SEC scheduling. I do want to see everyone in the SEC face 2 P5 out of conference games.

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        • Atticus

          Agreed. UGA has a disadvantage though because we lose a home game every other year due to Jax. That is a big deal.

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          • Otto

            It is an advantage as UGA has an atmosphere no other rivalry offers in the SEC and only a few offer nationally.

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            • Mayor

              Otto, how is it an advantage to get drilled on national TV every year by your biggest conference rival? No snark intended–I really want to know your thinking on this.

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      • MGW

        To me, getting back to a point where each team plays everyone in the conference at least once every 4 years is absolutely essential.

        What he refers to as Pods… essentially the concept of each team having a few set teams they play every year, and rotating the rest such that every team plays every other SEC team home and home within each 4 year cycle, with only an 8 team schedule, is an excellent way to do it.

        Going to 9 games would be great for us fans, but I just don’t see coaches springing for it. Plus an 8 team conference schedule makes non-conference P5 games a lot more manageable (and likely). The more of those the better.

        We’re really just about two separate conferences right now and its killed a lot of what made the SEC so great to begin with.

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  4. Atticus

    Its a huge set of issues:

    1-Players need to be compensated more but determining value is impossible. But increasing the stipend and establishing lifetime healthcare would be a good start. Its not a free market like the NFL and their aren’t individual owners (or ownership groups) that take in all the profit, much of the profit goes into better facilities, better staffing, tutors, housing, food (if you don’t think they have 200% better benefits in Athens then they did 20 years ago you have no idea, just go spend the day over there…) etc….

    2-Too many scrub games. Each team should only be able to schedule 2 patsies.

    3-Ticket prices are too high.

    4-Games take too long. They should be in the NFL model. People argue that if something is great who cares how long it is. Agreed. But the game is still 60 minutes, its the commercials and half time that take so long. 4 hour games are too long.

    5-Money is out of control. The SEC would never shorten games and take slightly less on the contract but the product would be better and they could possibly fit in more games. At some point this bubble will burst.

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  5. paul

    I like the idea of Olympic style amateurism. We need to fix scheduling but I think you can do that by making all conferences play a round robin schedule with no divisions and no championship game. Recruiting can be fixed by making all offers binding upon acceptance. Offer them whenever you want but once they’re accepted, which can happen at any time, they’re iron clad and good for four years. I believe an expanded playoff slowly bleeds the golden goose to death. Unfortunately, I think that’s exactly where we’re headed and exactly what’s going to happen.

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  6. ASEF

    Imagine a restaurant down the street had just the best fajitas you ever tasted. The salsa and chips were homemade, and they were free. Margaritas were good, not great, but they did the job at a reasonable price. And you walked out feeling great without killing your wallet.

    Word got around, and the line out the door was 2 hours. Fajita prices went up. Line was still 2 hours. So, the owner started charging for the chips. No change. So then he increased the profit margin by flipping to bagged chips. Line shortened a little but tables were still full. A switch to bottled salsa shortened the line some more but not enough to create empty seats. Raisd the margarita prices, still a line. Added an outdoor patio to seat an additional 50 people, and he found a balance of regular customers.

    These are all smart business moves for a restaurant. He maximized his profit margin relative to the demand he had.

    But if he’s running a legacy business, something he wants to, say hand down to the kids, then some of those moves are short-sighted. Short-term gain, long-term loss. The line was his new clients. He turned a business fueled by a quality experience into one fueled by nostalgia and reputation. And as his original customers died off, his prospective new customers had a hard time understanding what the fuss was about – and found somewhere else to eat.

    Yes, the way CFB treats players is awful. But the way they treat customers and CTE are the largest threats to the game. My family is college sports nuts, both husbands and wives. That mania translated to exactly 2 out 7 of the various kids, one the son of the Bama grad brother who could afford regular trips to games and bowls during the Saban era.

    My kid plays high school football and basketball. He aspires to play college ball, but he doesn’t watch games regularly, and when he does, it’s more an exercise in film study than pure fandom.

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  7. dawgfan

    The Senator hit the nail on the head when he pointed out two of the biggest problems in college football today, the people running it are working overtime trying to squeeze more money out of it and expanding the playoffs will water down the regular season. The mythical national championship decided by the AP and coaches voting with all its warts and controversy was fine with me. I don’t see where it ever hurt UGA except maybe in 07. The number one goal of each UGA team, every year, should be to win the SEC. Number two should be to beat Florida and Auburn. When you consider all factors, the SEC has had the best college football for at least the past thirty years and the people in charge are driven only by dollar signs. No more playoffs and no more conference expansion for me. I drove to Columbia, Missouri last year and it is ridiculous that they are in the same conference as UGA. The Senator was wrong about a nine game SEC schedule though, ten would be better, and get rid of Missouri and Texas A&M. UGA doesn’t play Texas A&M enough to matter anyway. The SEC is all about rivals and geographic proximity is important.

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    • Otto

      The mythical national title and even debate of the BCS was an asset that kept college football a discussion year round.

      What if 2007 was decided with an 8 team playoff, where UGA gets in or clearly defined P5 champs, some special ND clause, non P5 qualifier, and some sort of at large, more clearly defines why UGA doesn’t make it, would it be near the discussion a decade later?

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  8. CB

    One thing I think you’re neglecting to consider in your crusade against playoff expansion is the general lack of interest in bowl games that has crept into the forefront over the past 10 or so years. Fans under age 35 don’t really care too much about them because the market is flooded. Therefore, I would argue that expanding the playoffs to 6 teams allows for more meaningful games at the end of the season to see who gets the last few spots because more teams have a chance to get in. Yes, the top seeds will rarely be in doubt come November, but actually having a playoff more than makes up for that IMO.

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    • Spend a few minutes checking TV ratings for the bowl games and get back to me on that. (Hint: ESPN keeps buying the rights to them because they’re profitable.)

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      • CB

        Is there a short on that market that I can invest in? The bowl game ratings somehow feel like the strippers that were obtaining houses through sub prime mortgages back in the early 2000’s. I’m no Christian Bale, but I have a bad feeling that the Belk and Russell Athletic Bowls aren’t going to be able to prop this thing up forever. That is admittedly a blind guess on my part with zero facts to substantiate. Just going with my gut.

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    • dawgfan

      The NFL can have their playoffs and meaningless regular season where players give less than 100 percent. I’ll take the SEC with Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Florida, LSU, and Tennessee etc and all its passion and tradition. There’s nothing better and it shouldn’t be ruined by TV and money hungry athletic departments and college presidents.

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