Monday, November 9, 2015

College Football: The Joke that is the College Football Playoff Committee rankings and other thoughts.

You can call it "shakeout" Saturday or any other moniker that ESPN decides sounds right and you still have a college football weekend that provided some clarity and, in the mind of ESPN and CBS anyway, justified the CFP Selection Committee's sham ranking system.

Oh, and Missouri.

Some quick thoughts:

1. This Missouri thing is a tempest in a teapot. What we're falling onto the fainting couch about, is an internal issue for the University of Missouri to work out.  No, Virginia, it doesn't mean that college football needs to go away (but it is concerning, to me, that so-called "conservative voices" only got convinced it did after a team made a civil rights statement) as I think the future of big-time collegiate athletics takes place outside the "amateur" auspices of the NCAA regardless.

2. No, Virginia, the Alabama Crimson Tide destruction of the LSU Tigers on Saturday night did NOT validate the CFP Committee's placement of them in the 4th slot. Instead, it revealed the rankings to be the sham that they are.  Per the committee's own prior statements, and their criteria for other teams, what is yet to come is not included in the evaluation.  Except, it appears, in the case of Alabama. 

The truth is that the CFP Committee thought Alabama was good and they ranked them thusly. However, they also ranked LSU too high suggesting that they are playing fast and loose with the rankings to make some wins look better than others.

Why are they doing this?  TV ratings and dollars pure and simple.


While these two issues seem to be unrelated they are, in fact, tied very close to the hip.  Big-time college athletics is not about the student athlete any longer, nor should it be. The problem is throwing the baby out with the bathwater which several conservative (and progressive) pundits are trying to do, each for their own (political) reasons.

Progressive/Socialists don't want college athletics because it takes away from funding for the liberal arts colleges. They view athletic success, in pursuit of individual glory, to be counter-productive and damaging to minority communities.  Of course, many of these same people support gambling and state-run lotteries which are also damaging to minority and poor communities so take that at face value.

My biggest concern is with those on the right, who have suddenly found religion on college sports because a football team did something to advance a civil rights issue. It is probably true that many conservatives have fiscal issues stemming from the financial drain placed on a university due to sports. It's also true that they are reserving most of their anger for something called "liberal social engineering" and have now decided that sports should go because of it.  No matter your intentions, coming to the party consistently after these issues is a bad look.

The fact is, like it or no, college sports is a key factor in establishing the identity of a university. It fosters a communal spirit and generates a shared sense of pride, and sadness. In short, it forms a bond. These bonds are used to drive fundraising.  And, yes, a lot of this fundraising is for athletics, but a lot of it benefits the academic institution as well.  People often overlook that fact.

A better way forward would be to decouple big-time college sports from the NCAA.  Let the universities reap the profits, while maintaining the connection, and let those who can be paid a stipend for their work earn it.  Instead of forcing athletes to declare a major in "sports administration studies" make them take personal finance and communication classes, while still letting the ones who want to take classes on scholarship.  Also, remove the athletic scholarship fund from the general scholarship fund, but let the profits from the athletic departments be given to the schools on a tax-free basis.

At some point, college football is gong to reorganize into 4-16 team super-conferences. Let's decouple this from the NCAA, call it the College Football League, and reorganize the remaining (read: unprofitable) athletic programs into a new, smaller organization more focused on academics with less scholarships and less drive.  Stop the silly practice of cross-division scheduling and move forward from there.

If you still want to try and give "everyone a shot" (which is ridiculous) then implement some type of promotion/relegation system which punishes those who can't make it and rewards those who can.

As for the College Football Playoff?  It's very simple: The top team in each super-conference enters the tournament.  Everyone else who qualifies gets a bowl if they're available.  No-one in the new NCAA structure goes to a bowl, they're in the current FCS playoff system to begin with.

The one fly in the ointment here is whether or not you can find 64 college football programs who generate enough money to fly solo.  If not, you'll have to look at trimming the super-conferences and just taking those who do, with a few spots reserved for the promotion/relegation placements.

This change is coming anyway, and it will also stop some of the smaller schools from robbing academic Peter to pay athletic Paul in a vain effort to climb the ladder.

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