Recently, more and more people have been stating their case for or against implementing a college football commissioner. The debate about the need for a commissioner is far from over and I’m not here to end it.
There are plenty who say we should not have a commissioner, that it wouldn’t solve anything. They’re just no fun. Some have proposed possible candidates to fill the position. Well, if none of those distinguished gentlemen are going to step up then I will. I’m going to work under the assumption that we do have a commish and it’s me.
Before I really get started, I want to make it clear that my position is in no way associated with the sham of an organization that is the National Collegiate Athletics Association. I am the College Football Commissioner and I will not answer to the NCAA. It will answer to me, as will its member colleges and universities.
That’s important to note because a lot of what I’m going to propose here will not be popular in those circles. Frankly, I don’t give a damn. It is past time the NCAA and its member schools make some sacrifices for the benefit of others.
I’m looking long-term here. Those who are strictly after more money immediately can’t see that far down the road. Here are your binoculars.
Joel Klatt’s Issues
Over the summer, Fox college football analyst Joel Klatt launched into his elevator speech highlighting the reasons why college football needs a commissioner.
Scheduling – This is an easy one. Scheduling consistency is a necessity in the Playoff era. Constantly comparing and contrasting the value of wins undermines the Playoff by questioning the strength of the selected teams. Put everyone on a more level playing field and enhance the debate in the process.
Staff size – Klatt doesn’t like the way Nick Saban stashes coaches on his staff by calling them “analysts.” It got him fired up enough to make another appeal in favor of installing a commish. To a degree, Klatt is right about this. It is unfair for the big boys to gobble up the best coaches just because there are virtually no restrictions on how many employees a program can have.
Player conduct – Right now, player discipline decisions are made by the head coaches themselves. If that’s not a conflict of interest then they need to redefine what that phrase means. Again, this is an easy fix.
Recruiting rules – This past summer, Jim Harbaugh showed us that the recruiting trail really is the Wild West. It’s hard to regulate because so much of it occurs in the shadows. I would appoint a Director of Recruiting to establish and enforce guidelines that prevent the big programs from abusing their power without preventing coaches from separating themselves from others.
“Fumbled” satellite camp vote – When it becomes painfully obvious that the conferences are voting not necessarily in their own best interests, but to harm the others, it’s time to switch things up. The satellite camp debate that raged throughout the summer was an eye-opener indeed. Let’s get some rules agreed upon and take the enforcement of them out of the hands of each self-serving conference.
Transfer rules – Sometimes, kids decide they want to go to a different school. They shouldn’t be punished for that.
“Checkered past” transfers – Klatt mentions “checkered past” transfers, in obvious reference to what went on at that Baptist school in Waco, Texas. Generally, these are not good human beings, but they’ve got skill so coaches are willing to take the chance. In this situation, we need to raise the stakes for coaches and schools so they’re not endangering campuses by bringing in convicts.
Graduate transfers – These are college football’s free agents and I’m a huge fan. If anything, we should be making it easier for guys to take full advantage of their eligibility while pursuing an even higher degree.
Officiating – Klatt is totally right about this. Get all the officials under one umbrella so that everyone’s on the same page. That way we won’t have to listen to fans whine and complain about an opposing conference’s officials playing favorites. It’s a ridiculous notion and it’s easily fixed by unifying all the men and women in stripes.
Klatt says we need an adult in the room. I totally agree with him there. Here’s what the adult in the room has decided:
Each Power 5 team will play at least two other Power 5 teams – one at home, one on the road – by the end of Week 3. Each Power 5 team will play at least one Group of 5 team – on the road at least once every four years – before the end of Week 3. These three games will compose the non-conference portion of the schedules
In Week 4, conference play starts, continuing through Week 13. Each team will play nine conference games and get a bye week at some point during the conference schedule. Week 14 is reserved for the conference championship games, which are now mandatory.
All football programs may only have a certain number of employees. This includes coaches, trainers, “analysts,” everybody. I won’t get too specific here. How could I even hazard a worthwhile guess at such a number? I’ll let my Compliance Director handle it.
All player conduct issues will be handled by the Commissioner’s office. Don’t worry, I’m not going to go all Roger Goodell and start making these decisions on my own. As you see, I’ve got many other things to do. I’ll hire someone to review cases and suspend players as they see fit. You can think of them as the Dean of Discipline. No prior punishment will come into consideration as precedent. We’re starting over.
We will have no more verbal commitments from recruits. It’s unnecessary and it gets confusing when a guy decides he doesn’t want to go to that school after all. We can all wait until national signing day. I’ll save the countless intricacies that go into this process for my Director of Recruiting.
Satellite camps are not only legal, they are encouraged. If you can spare however many of your allotted employees then you can take your show anywhere on the road your please. We will establish guidelines before spring recruiting picks up. There will be strict parameters as to how many employees a program can send. All camps must be made open for all other schools to send representation.
There are only a couple transfer rules that I will concern myself with. The first is the rule we all know. When a player transfers schools they must sit out a season before playing at their new school. Yeah, that’s gone. I’ll let you transfer and play immediately, but you can only do it once while you’re still taking undergrad classes. Once you graduate, you may transfer again, if you’d like.
As for the guys Klatt refers to as “checkered past” individuals, like I mentioned earlier, the stakes need to be higher for the coaches and schools bringing these guys in. You want to take a chance that’s fine, but you will be fined if that chance you took turns out to be a bad one. Taking money away is the most effective way I know to keep people in line. Financial sanctions will dictate more careful decision making and I’ll bet we see a drastic dip in these “checkered past” transfers causing more problems.
All officials will be trained, employed, and monitored by the Officiating Director. Repeated poor performance will be punished with demotions to lower profile games. At some point though, fans are going to have to realize the refs do not have it out for their team.
Now I can get into the exciting part. The College Football Playoff is now expanded to eight teams. Each Power 5 conference champion will automatically qualify. The committee will select at least one team from a Group of 5 conference, as well. The final two spots are completely at-large.
So, does the committee go with a conference championship game loser, another small conference champ, or a runner-up from a tough division? I don’t know, but as Commissioner, I’m intent on finding out.
The opening round quarterfinal games will be played on college campuses, with the higher-seeded team hosting. This is one of the few things that the schools might actually like to hear. Imagine a Playoff game at any one of the dozens of iconic college football venues. Unlike most of what I’ve said here, this is not a hard sell.
Now Accepting Applications
As your new College Football Commissioner, I would like to officially offer you a chance to apply for employment in our office. We’re going to take college football into a new era and we’d love to have your help in doing it. Join now because what I say goes and it’s going to be fun.
Photo: Flickr user Elvert Barnes
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