• Stephen Thompson

The Salvation of College Football

We have around 130 schools in big-time (FBS) college football and a 4-team Playoff; that excludes way too many.

I think the work of huge contributors like Paul Finebaum have essentially insisted that we nationalize the sport permanently. And Paul's contributions are the very foundation of this plan. I think the regular season should revolve around conference challenges set up on a random basis except for the Big 10-Pac 12 Challenge which would be the centerpiece of the regular season in the Rose Bowl every season in November--around 12 games in three or four days--please note that having a school outside those conferences as a part of the festivities could always be fun. The season begins, in the SEC for example, with balanced divisional schedules and a four-team Playoff for the conference championship--at least we would finally have balanced schedules in the mix in conference action. An SEC East of Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina feels ideal to me. I strongly believe that following basketball to focus on the Round of 64 is an appeal to traditionalists; I have seen a sport that is fed up with champions that do not finish on a substantial winning streak.

The key to my plan is a new committee that operates on a completely ad hoc basis and handles all contests that are not conference-oriented (random draw rules conference challenges and the conferences control their 5 weeks of the season.). What we need to have is the ability to place a Notre Dame eliminated from the Semi-finals against a Michigan in Florida in the following week.

I have to be honest about the very heart of my plan. It's really every single individual who we currently have working in this country as a volunteer for a bowl game as we turn their event into a publicity bonanza. Please note that in a recent season the Playoff Committee would have granted around 18 home games to the top 18 seeded schools in FBS as a reward for the regular season. The Playoff Committee, now blessed with far superior data, would use an ELO Chess made available to the public for selection. No more seasons where a fan like me is left wondering about a vintage Boise State team.

I like the idea of everything with scheduling flowing easily with wide open dialogue, and there's every incentive to make traditional match-ups to go along with the potential (given that several conferences are smaller than others and we don't necessarily have to do more than a 9-game conference challenge created by random draw ever). So the regular season begins with 5 games that are almost all games between schools in the same conference, and every school has an open week in the 6-game stretch run of conference challenges that close out the regular season. You might note that has the season beginning when we have Week 1 (not Week Zero) now. Week Zero under my plan would feature an option for every FBS school in America to add an optional game. With the history of Miami-Florida State, we know the huge rivalries thrive as openers--that's such a pro-player promotional approach. We're able to hype the game for months and months--and then when it's over there is actually a real new life for the season. You will note there remains all sorts of options for late in the regular season.

I want to leave you assured about traditional rivalries being played. Let's focus on LSU-Ole Miss (Did you know that the Halloween game we always discuss did not have the 1958 AP and coaches' national champions featuring the glorified Chinese Bandits of LSU involved--that was in 1959 when Coach Vaught's Ole Miss won a re-match in The Sugar Bowl Game.) Presumably LSU would be in an SEC Central of LSU, Auburn, and Alabama while Ole Miss would be in an SEC West of Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Texas A&M, and Arkansas. However, there's the optional week Zero and the guarantee that the SEC would be at least 2 schools larger than several other conferences. I must conclude by asserting that Gameday featuring one conference challenge down the stretch run of six regular season weeks would be a uniting force in the States. And I always insist--we have the pomp and circumstance of conference officials handing over a trophy at the last game of the conference challenge on television.

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