Thursday, August 28, 2014
Final College Football Preseason Thoughts
It's almost time.
As we're less than 48 hours away from kickoff into this college football season, there are some last-second hopes that I have for this season, as well as the future of the sport. And as time is of the essence, here are some final preseason thoughts.
The SEC Network has so far been a pretty successful launch. Dari Nowkhah was the right choice to anchor the desk and given the number of schools and large audience already established, there's a lot of potential in this network. My hope though is that the SEC uses this network to its advantage. Hopefully journalism students from each of the 14 schools get the opportunity to work within the network and gain valued experience at a very high level.
I also hope that, while Paul Finebaum is on the network for ratings, he, nor his callers, become the face of the network. Let's save that for the athletes and coaches.
Speaking of the SEC, I hope that the decision to play eight conference games with a "plus-one" non-conference team from the power conferences brings back two more rivalries. Texas A&M should re-unite with Texas for a Thanksgiving showdown each year, while Missouri and Kansas should renew their border rivalry. These just make sense and while they won't be done this year, they should start to figure things out.
On a smaller scale, credit goes to North Dakota and North Dakota State for renewing their rivalry. Extra points to the folks at UND who were willing to play both games at NDSU's Fargodome to make it happen. Hope that one turns into a long-term affair again. As for BYU and Utah, really? You're going to let the Holy War end? Please reconsider.
I hope that the members of the college football playoff committee get it right, but realize soon that four teams aren't going to be enough. It's a great start, but slowly and surely, the playoff will have to grow in size. Which leads to a thought: perhaps the bowl games should be used to kick off the season. Neutral site showdowns have become the opening weekend rage (Alabama/W. Virginia, Ole Miss/Boise State, LSU/Wisconsin, Florida State/Oklahoma State, UCF/Penn State, etc.). If the playoff ever reaches 16 teams, similar to the FCS, it might be a way to save the bowl system and create great matchups to open the college football season, especially on a week when the NFL isn't playing.
I still hope that, for the mid-majors, a new tier is created with their own playoff system. They should bring in the best conferences from the current FCS (Missouri Valley, for example) and have the chance for each team to actually compete and play for a national championship. The mid-majors have little to no chance of making the last four in the new system; which makes it difficult to explain why they are in the same tier as the power five leagues.
I hope the Heisman vote is a close one. And I'd like to see a quarterback not win it.
I hope that athletic directors find a balance with fans. TV networks are bringing in the dough for colleges, yet they're also giving fans a way to skip attending the game and stay at home. AD's need to start finding ways to fill their stadiums again and make the events worth attending, rather than watching. Lowering prices is a good start, but there's more to it than just that.
While we're at it, AD's should open accounts for each athlete and for each piece of merchandise sold, a piece of the royalty goes to the athlete. Then, when the athlete chooses to leave, be it go pro or graduation, the account closes and they get a check. That keeps each athlete as an amateur, yet gives them a safety net for when they leave as a reward for their contributions. And if a player gets kicked off their team for any reason, that money is forfeited.
Finally, I hope there are some fantastic upsets in the first week. Why not start the playoff era by shaking the boat early and often? Regardless, this should be a season to remember. It's finally time to get started.