Sunday, June 22, 2008


College football's crazy old grandfather/coot Joe Paterno is mad. A little while back, the Bowl Championship Series voted to keep its format instead of developing a college football playoff system.

"To be frank with you, I don't know what the reasons are not to have a playoff," Paterno said. "You can talk about missing class and all that kind of stuff, [yet] you see basketball go on forever. You have a lot of bogus excuses, but obviously the majority of people who have the say don't want it."

Of course they don't want it. Those people are making money. Serious money. And changing that system—even though the current one doesn't serve college football, even though the coaches, players and fans want it—to a playoff system makes no sense to them. Heck, they might lose some money.

And yes, everyone wants it. Fans have been clamoring for it for years. Players from Ohio State, Auburn and others have spoken out for it. And after a BCS vote this spring for keeping the current system, a number of college coaches spoke out.

Former Navy and current Georgia Tech coach, Paul Johnson said this: "Personally, I don't see any reason why you can't have a playoff...I think you'll see a plus-one (format) here before long, maybe a four-team playoff or something because all it's going to take is a couple more people to feel like they got (the shaft)."

There are a bunch of horse poo-encrusted reasons the commissioners give for not voting for a playoff system—the kids "missing class time" being the funniest. Big 10 commissioner Jim Delany also stated, with a straight face, that a playoff system would somehow diminish the "sanctity" of the regular season. He didn't explain how.

Excrement. The only reason the college football commissioners don't want a playoff system is money. In a recent meeting of the twelve major conferences and Notre Dame, only two (the SEC and the ACC) voted to even continue talks about a playoff system. The rest voted to not even consider a playoff system until 2014. Why 2014? Because that's when the current TV contracts the Big Ten and Pac-10 have with the Rose Bowl runs out.

Money, dawg. Money.

Right now, college football has never been more financially sound. The TV deals are bringing in huge revenue—the BCS still has two more years on a $320 million dollar deal with Fox, and can renegotiate with bowl-hungry ABC/ESPN as soon as the deal ends. Heck, Notre Dame has never been worse on the field and NBC still reupped with Notre Dame this week through 2015 even though the current contract didn't run out till 2010.

There's the old saying, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." So really, why would the commissioners of these divisions screw with a machine that coughs out mega-coin each and every year for them?

They won't. In fact, the only reason the SEC and the ACC voted to discuss a playoff system wasn't because they wanted to help out the common fan; they felt their divisions (both in the southeast, with rabid fans) could make more money in a playoff system—more games, more tailgating, hotels, more TV rights to sell. The Big East, the PAC-10 and especially the Big Ten on the other hand want nothing to do with a system that jeopardizes what they feel works fine as is. (That goes especially for the Big Ten, which doesn't have a championship game and would have to create one for the new playoff system-something it strongly doesn't want to do.) And as I stated before, the PAC-10 and the Big 10 both have a hugely profitable relationship with the Rose Bowl and the proposed "Plus One" guarantees that every Big Ten playoff game would be a road game—why jeopardize that with some playoff system, which may or may not guarantee a huge TV contract?

I wrote a proposal last fall about a new playoff system here:
In it, there's design to use a 16-team playoff system like they do in Division 1-AA and which used a playoff system that has the team with the better record gain home field advantage in the playoffs. This proposal would keep the "sanctity" of the regular season intact and would spread the wealth of a big postseason games around the country instead of just the South. Is it possible the BCS commissioners would go for it, especially with the impending retirements of PAC-10 and Big East commissioners, Tom Hansen and Mike Tranghese—two opponents of a playoff system.

Answer: They won't. There will be a college playoff system—never. And I won't even use my words to explain—I'll let the gods of college football, in a rare moment of honesty, explain.

“We have decided that because we feel at this time the BCS is in an unprecedented state of health, we feel it’s never been healthier during its first decade, we have made a decision to move forward in the next cycle with the current format,”

ACC commissioner and BCS coordinator John Swofford said. Big 10 commissioner was just as clear, when you read his next quote through the eyes of money:

"We think the burden for changing is on the proponents of change, not on the group that brought a bowl and two conferences from one place of tradition to a place that is ten years old.

In other words, we're rich off the system. We're not changing it.

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