Monday, January 09, 2012

Ten changes needed to college football’s bowl season

Now that the 2011 collegiate football season has finally come to an exhaustive conclusion, having felt like one of those old WWII prisoner of war movies where everyone is in tattered shoes and physically drained, there are some changes to be made to the whole system. Some are radical and some are common sense, but all of them are very much needed.
First, in the future, only teams with actual winning records will be allowed to participate. Going 6-6, or .500, is not good enough; it means you simply suck half the time. And for sure, NO team with a losing record (regardless of circumstance as was UCLA at 6-7 this season) plays in a bowl game.
Second, no team facing, or under, any type of NCAA penalty/sanctions can participate (and yes, that is aimed directly as schools like Southern Cal and Ohio State). Rule breaking, lying and cheating should never ever be rewarded, as was the case last year (and this season) concerning the Buckeyes. It was a double sham for the 2010 Sugar Bowl because five players, subsequently suspended but made public prior to the game, were permitted to perform. Their suspension should have been doubled.
Third, the Rose Bowl shall ALWAYS be played on Jan.1, regardless of what the NFL has scheduled. The parade is held in the morning and kickoff is 2 p.m. Pasadena time. If the NFL gets upset, screw them! At some point, tradition and history MUST count for something; it was a mockery of both to see the parade and game held on Monday, Jan. 2.
Fourth, hold no more cold weather outdoor bowl games! Let’s simply forget about playing games in Boise, Idaho, or Yankee Stadium when it could blizzard or freeze. Let the NHL play its Winter Classic in an outdoor stadium for the novelty effect; college football bowl games should be seen as some sort of reward (Boise is punishment in December.)
Fifth, Outside of the BCS championship game, a city gets to host just one post-season contest. Sorry, but the organizers and chamber bosses in New Orleans, San Diego, Orlando and Dallas must pick just ONE post-season contest to use as a tourist Power Point presentation. The New Orleans Bowl will just have to find a new home.
Sixth, if a school is planning to fire, or hire, its head football coach, it must wait until AFTER the conclusion of the bowl game it accepts as a participant. In 2011, some 12 schools entered their bowl encounters with interim coaches after the game of musical coaching chairs began. In fact, two games saw both teams played under interim bosses.
But continuity always produces a better quality of football and if a school is all-too-willing to take that bowl game cash, perks and rewards, then it can damn well wait until scrambling its players and staff when the grim reaper makes its appearance.
Seventh, all these corporate sponsors are massive marketing ploys and disturb the natural rhythm of the football universe. I say go retro, back to the future, and return some of these contests to their original names. The Capital One Bowl should really be the Tangerine Bowl, which began in 1947; the Chick-Fil-A Bowl sounded better when it was the Peach Bowl, honoring the peach industry of Georgia; and the Outback Bowl had been known as the Hall of Fame Game.
If college teams can don “throwback” uniforms, which may or may not have actually existed long ago, then these games can return to their true roots.
Eighth, games should be played in cities that people actually WANT to visit in December. Birmingham, Ala.? Charlotte, N.C.? Shreveport, La.? Detroit … in wintertime? Seriously???
Ninth, a game dedicated to the U.S. armed forces should actually involve one of the academy schools. Neither Brigham Young University nor University of Tulsa qualified in 2011.
And, finally, tenth, if the FCS, and its old Division 1-A schools, can execute a legitimate playoff process to determine a national champion (it was North Dakota Stadium in a game held last Saturday in Frisco, Texas), then the big boys have no righteous excuse to avoid it.
These student-athletes have the same examination challenges as anyone in the SEC, Big 10 or Big 12. Their fans had the same travel obstacles as LSU, Alabama, Michigan or Oregon. YET … it was done very successfully (as was the case in Division 2 and Division 3 NCAA action), with no complaints from players, coaches, or administration.
So why, again, does the BCS go through its ridiculous square dance of excuses every year??? Could you imagine the overall fan interest, and television ratings (as well as stadium attendance) if you took the top eight, 12 or 16 teams and worked it out over a four-week time frame? In fact, a national championship could be played on the off-week before the Super Bowl.
The hang-up is found in the offices of the various collegiate presidents, who are the REAL powers behind the NCAA hierarchy – not coaches or athletic directors; for some reason, the prospect of MORE money isn’t as enticing as the seduction process employed by the various bowl committees. What a shame for the rest of us!
In the end, some of these lower-rung games will have to disappear – for the sake of the game itself. Nothing was gained to have Purdue edge Western Michigan, or for Illinois and UCLA to have played at all. If someone in charge will help cull these weak sisters out of the system, future action after the regular season won’t be such a major beatdown.
It might actually MEAN something.

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