There has a been a lot of speculation about how the Turf Wars will turn college football into two giant Haves and a bunch of midget Have-Nots scurrying around, trying to bite their ankles.
By this, I mean the voracious Southeastern Conference, which is adding Big 12 legends Texas and Oklahoma, give or take an oil derrick, and the obsessive copycat Big Ten Conference, which is annexing Pac-12 superstars USC and UCLA, plus unlimited Fast Passes at Disneyland.
With the SEC and the Big Ten clutching the lion’s share of television dollars, the Big 12, Pac-12, ACC and every other outsider will be forced to play football barefoot and do their weightlifting with rocks. In caves.
There is another way. It’s not likely. In fact, it’s pretty doggone remote in this world of Me-First. But it would restore sanity to college football.
If I were the Czar for A Day, here’s how it would unfold.
Back in Olden Times, we used to hear that some major change would not happen because the University Presidents don’t want it to happen.
Well, those University Presidents, who have been silent too long, decide what they want to happen: A return to sanity in college football.
They’re tired of money ruling the college-football world. They want a return to the days when conferences were defined by regional rivalries, not television audiences. They don’t want their “student-athletes’’ flying thousands of miles and playing football games at all hours and days of the week just to maximize the Name, Image and Likeness dollars paid to athletes.
When Teddy Roosevelt, a big fan of rugged athletics, was President, college football violence was out of hand. We’re talking too many deaths by Flying Wedge. He convened a White House meeting and got radical change.
That’s what we’re talking about here. . .
The University Presidents believe, courtesy of my persuasive Czar reasoning, that college-football schools will generate excellent television revenue by banding together and negotiating broadcasting packages to multiple networks—the way the NFL does.
They believe that the ideal size of a conference is eight, 10 or 12 teams. Anything bigger is a retail chain, not college sports.
They are sad that the NFL, for all of its warts and flaws, is the business model. But they believe that college football champions should not be determined by the size of their budgets.
They are appalled that some uber-rich schools have built obscene locker rooms with Olympic-sized hot tubs and hired chefs from The Five Seasons for their training tables. Meanwhile, other schools have to do their own laundry and ride yellow school buses just to go 2-10.
To accomplish all of this, the University Presidents appoint SEC commissioner Greg Sankey to execute the plan. He is aided by the other four Power 5 commissioners.
The first order of business is to come up with a Salary Cap. That includes the salary of the head coach, the assistants, the amount of NIL money paid to athletes and the amount spent on facilities.
Schools are free to exceed the cap. The penalty is not financial. It is wins. If you spend too much to win, wins are deducted.
The nation is divided into eight conferences, with eight to 12 schools per conference. The winner of each conference goes into the playoff.
The conferences go like this: Four of the current Power 5—the Big Ten, SEC, ACC and Pac-8/10/12 revert to their traditional schools, with a few tweaks. The other four conferences are a Big East, a Rocky Mountain, a Southwest and a Big 8/12.
The Big East is anchored by Penn State, Pitt, West Virginia, Boston College and Syracuse. The Rocky Mountain is anchored by Colorado, Arizona, Arizona State, Utah and BYU. The Southwest is primarily Texas schools. The Big 8/10/12 is anchored by Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Kansas, Missouri and Iowa State.
If schools that are not currently in the Power 5 want to get in the game by making the necessary financial commitment, the conferences can go up to 12 schools. That includes schools like Houston, Boise State, Army, Navy, San Diego State, UNLV and many others.
Notre Dame has to stop playing The Bachelor and get married. To a conference. Any conference. As long as it’s less than 1,000 miles from the Golden Dome.
And that is how we stop the madness and get college football back to being what it ought to be.