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Posts Tagged ‘college football’

This past weekend featured some of the biggest rivalry games in all of sports as Ohio State fell to Michigan in the 108th installment of “The Game”, Alabama defeated Auburn in the “Iron Bowl” in their 76th meeting and Oregon clobbered Oregon State in the 115th “Civil War”. In a couple weeks one of the longest running and well-known rivalries will take place when Army takes on Navy for the 112th time.

In football, most major rivalry games take place at the end of the regular season. In my opinion, ALL major rivalry games should take place at the end of a season! By having the game as the final game it gives both teams something to look forward to despite their results during all of their other regular season games. If a team has a terrible regular season, much of that can be wiped out and forgotten with a victory over their rival. On the other hand, a loss to a rival after a successful season hurts even more. For my fellow Ohio State fans out there, how did it feel when John Cooper was head coach and OSU had outstanding regular seasons but got beaten by Michigan in The Game 10 out of 12 years? AWFUL!

For anyone who’s ever been a part of a huge rivalry as a player, coach, or fan there is no more exciting time than the weeks and days leading up to a rivalry game. Every big rivalry from the high school to the professional level features traditions, pranks, trash-talking and hope. Here in Ohio, high school football is king and there are hundreds of huge, long-running rivalries including my alma mater the New Philadelphia Quakers and our rival the dover Tornadoes. That’s not a typo. Since I was involved in this rivalry I’ve been writing dover with a lower-case “D” that’s how much I hate them. I HATE DOVER. Ask anyone from New Philadelphia…they’ll tell you the same. Ask anyone from dover what they think, they’ll tell you they hate New Philly…and that’s how it should be. During dover-Phila week each school has different themes each day for their students centered around beating the other school. On Thursday night it’s the annual bonfire and pep-rally. Then on Friday night it’s game time! The winner on Friday night goes home with bragging rights and memories for a lifetime. The loser…disappointment, tears and a different kind of memories.

For me, I was 0-2 in my final two games against dover but I’ll never forget those two games. Freezing temperatures, a borderline-illegal play and a 0-14 defeat as a Junior. As a Senior, dover was 8-1 coming into the game and we were 2-7. We didn’t have a chance right? If it weren’t for an errant extra point we may have won that game, but instead fell 6-7. My final play was an interception which ended with me getting tackled and then illegally “speared” after the play with a 15-yard penalty for dover. For me, a hip pointer and I was done for the game. Watching dover score their only touchdown while I was standing on the sideline was more painful than the injury itself.

The point of me telling you this? If you’ve never been a part of something like this you wouldn’t understand. If you have, I hope you can take 5 minutes to think about when you were part of the rivalry and think about how it felt to be part of something bigger than yourself, your team and your school. Every year when rivalries are renewed, entire communities and fan bases relive their experiences through the current players on the field. It’s not quite the same as playing, but it sure feels good when your team wins!

PS – I still hate dover!

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When the college football regular season is over in a couple weeks 95% of us will be complaining again about the BCS and the fact that there is no playoff system. The 5% who won’t be complaining are the fans of the two teams who are in the BCS title game.

For anyone who follows college football, we all know why there isn’t a playoff in place yet…it’s all about the C-A-S-H. The NCAA isn’t smart enough to figure out a way to come up with a playoff system that will generate more money than the current BCS bowl system.

The current BCS system includes four major bowls (Rose, Fiesta, Orange & Sugar) plus the BCS Championship Game for a total of five games involving 10 teams.  It also involved automatic qualifiers from six major conferences. Last year, the automatic qualifiers provided the BCS with a team ranked #13 overall, Virginia Tech, and an unranked team in Connecticut. I know VT has a strong following, but those two teams don’t quite provide the star power you’d hope for in a post-season atmosphere. Plus, with the craziness surrounding conference realignment in college football, it’s time for a major change.

I would propose an eight-team playoff of the top eight ranked teams in the final BCS standings. The team ranked #1 would play the team ranked #8, #2 vs. #7, #3 vs. #6 and #4 vs. #5. Not revolutionary I know, but here’s the catch which the NCAA is missing. The NCAA and BCS are worried about losing the television revenue from the “Bowl system” if a playoff was in place. The solution, host each playoff game in the venues associated with the BCS bowls. With an eight-team playoff there would be a total of seven games played (compared to only five BCS games currently). The first four games would be played at the venues associated with the current BCS bowls and could still be called Rose Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Orange Bowl and Sugar Bowl. These bowls could still award their championship trophies and treat the games as they would any other year. The second round of the playoffs would be hosted at two of the four same sites (ex: Rose and Sugar) and the championship game would be hosted  at either the Fiesta or Orange Bowl site. In this format, three out of the four venues would host two games each post-season and one venue would host one game. The NCAA could rotate this each season so that over four years each venue would host the same number of playoff games.

In regards to increased revenue from a ticket sales, concessions, merchandise and sponsorship perspective there are seven major games to generate revenue as opposed to the current five. Where the real money would come is in the television rights fees. Currently, ESPN is paying approximately $125 million per year for the rights to the BCS games (~$25 million per game). If you take those figures and go to seven games instead of five that’s an additional $50 million right off the bat. That’s assuming the same interest level and television ratings as before, but both of those are guaranteed to skyrocket with a playoff. Think about this…right now, if I’m a Stanford or Michigan State fan and my team makes the Rose bowl, do I really care about an Orange Bowl game between Clemson and Cincinnati? Not a chance. If the winner of the Orange Bowl was slated to play the winner of the Rose Bowl would I pay a little more attention? ABSOLUTELY! You know what that means…higher TV ratings which means $$$$$!

Lastly, and most importantly to college football fans and players, a three-week, eight-team playoff gives eight teams, instead of just two, the opportunity to try to prove they are the best team in the country and earn the shot at the National Title.

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The ongoing and growing debate on whether or not college athletes should be paid may never end. Some say yes, others say no. The problem is, those who say yes can’t figure out:

A. How much?
B. Which sports?
C. Who is paying them?

My solution is for the NCAA to take the money they earn from their very lucrative television contracts (football bowl games and the NCAA basketball tournament being the primary sources of funding) and create a pool of money from which they can LOAN money to student-athletes. These would be low-interest loans similar to a government-backed loan program and could be repaid over 10 to 20 years. These loans would be available to ANY student-athlete, not just those from revenue-generating sports such as football and basketball.

Recent studies suggest athletes may need between $2,000 and $5,000 annually to pay for expenses not covered by their athletic scholarships. Using those number, I would set the maximum loan amount per year at $10,000 per student (double what they may need for expenses). 99% of the loan requests under $2,500 should be approved with few questions asked. Requests between $2,500 and $5,000 would need a few more questions asked before approval. And finally, any request for more than $5,000 would require more steps in the approval process and would look at criteria such as financial background, reason for request over $5,000, and should even take into consideration PRO POTENTIAL of the athlete. This way, if Andrew Luck from Stanford or OSU star basketball player Jared Sullinger want to live lavishly in college with this extra money they can do so…they just need to pay it back when they are in the pros. Additionally, this loan program should have a system in place where the interest rate on the loans goes down if/when the athlete graduates. I’m not naive enough to think this is going to drastically increase graduation rates, but it does reward those who do finish their degree.

This solution not only helps student-athletes by providing them with money they may need to get through school but it is also another long-term revenue generator for the NCAA as they will earn interest money from these loans moving forward.

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