The biggest roadblock to a college football playoff system isn't money. There's enough TV and sponsorship money out there to stamp out hunger and homelessness. So the least we can do is spend it on something as crucial as college football.
The biggest roadblock isn't a drawn-out postseason that would affect a wide receiver's academic progress. Nobody seems to be too concerned about that from September through November, so let's not be hypocritical and make it a December issue. If we really cared about the ivory tower, two-thirds of the outside linebackers in America wouldn't be majoring in recreation.
No, the main roadblocks are the six BCS superconferences - whose champions automatically get a healthy slice of the money pie - and the current bowl system.
The Sunshine Bowl needs two teams guaranteeing 30,000 sold tickets so that the sponsoring hotels in Sunshine City, not to mention the restaurants and theme parks and golf courses, can make a killing while the chamber of commerce gets a three-hour ad on ESPN showing bare-chested fans in shorts soaking in the rays and ambiance. They'll throw a $50-a-seat banquet, maybe stage a parade, cash that TV check and buy each committee member a new blazer.
The only way to make a national playoff work is to include the existing bowl structure. We're stuck with the current system through the 2005 season, but hopefully the NCAA will assert itself over the BCS conferences and reclaim control of Divison I-A college football. If so, here's our plan:
The four big BCS bowls - Rose, Orange, Sugar and Fiesta - will alternate on a yearly basis which one would be downgraded to a quarterfinal site, just as they would rotate the national title game.
Would there be short-notice travel and accommodation problems for teams and fans? Yes. Would BCS powers threaten to leave the NCAA? Yes. Would fans of the seventh-ranked team assigned to Shreveport be ticked off because fans of the 11th-ranked team got to enjoy San Diego? Yeah, but who cares? If life was fair, there wouldn't be any wheelchairs. Plus, one day's pay for one column isn't enough to solve ALL the problems.
By the way, we've used only 15 of the current 25 bowl sites for our national playoff. That leaves 10 bowls, including the famous Transportation Trio of the Motor City, GMAC and Jeep bowls to negotiate their own TV deals and accommodate 20 teams not ranked high enough to qualify for the playoffs. That should keep your Purdues, Colorado States and Mid-American Conferences happy and fill our holiday-eve bowl needs.
It goes without saying that we're available for consultation, provided there's a modest fee and, of course, a new blazer.
Dave Hackenberg is a Blade sports writer.
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