Saving college football's seedy soul

As I listened to Nashville talk radio station 104.5 The Zone today on the commute home from work, I heard the best prediction of what is to come in the world of college football. Former Tennessee  assistant coach Doug Matthews is on The Sports Zone with George Plaster and Willy Daunic for a little over an hour every Friday afternoon during college football season.

Many callers were bringing up the same regurgitated info when Matthews said something that many have said many times except this time it made sense.  He mentioned super conferences that paid players.  Wow! Ground breaking.  But then he continued to outline the following:

  • College football is heading down the path of super conferences with four 16-team conferences.
  • The schools in this super conference will provide a “monthly stipend” to the athletes.
  • The super conferences would consist of its own division in college football.  Just like Division I, II, and III except this division would be some form of a Division 0 or something of the sort.
  • These colleges are losing the public relations battle at this point because they are making money hand over fist by riding these elite athletes to the bank while not compensating them one penny.
As soon as they went to commercial, I instantly started going through all the possibilities in my head.  Here are some realistic scenarios that spilled from my brain as I drove – at least I wasn’t texting – well, I was Tweeting, posting on Facebook, and playing Angry Birds. But I wasn’t texting dadgum it.
  • There is room for flexibility in conference division alignment in a 16-team conference, but in order to keep uniformity in our 64-team Division 0, we will require all conferences to have four 4-team divisions.
  • Each conference will play nine regular season conference games.  Your team will play the three teams in its own division, one permanent rival from each of the other three divisions, and play a rotating opponent in each of the other three divisions.  This will give us nine total conference games and will alleviate – somewhat – the concerns that some one division is weaker than another.
  • The winner of each conference division will play in a conference “final four” semifinal.  The winner of those two games will play in the conference championship.  This opens up a great opportunity to utilize three markets/cities within the conference.  For example: the SEC could rotate the semifinal locations between Nashville, New Orleans, Dallas, Miami, or any larger market area in close proximity of the conference footprint.  The final would probably stay in Atlanta, but that would more than likely go to the highest bidder.
  • The winner of each conference advances to a true “final four” format for the national championship.  You might want to sit down for this, but the national champion will be determined on the field.
  • The beauty in all of this is that college football will strengthen its national footprint the same way it became so popular in the first place – traditional and established regional rivalries and border wars that captivate a nation because the passion is so strong that it comes through television and grabs the viewer by the throat. College football will not grow stronger because a conference added a team that has a great television market within 50 miles of campus and/or by starting a new television network that may air 18 volleyball games a year.
There is really no perfect answer at this point, but we do know that change is coming.  Change is a good thing.  Change can’t completely kill the sport.  College football has proven it’s as resilient as Freddy Krueger (Cougar if you’re John Mellencamp) and Jason Voorhees. If the NCAA and university presidents haven’t killed the game yet, nothing will.