Monday, September 19, 2011

Will Congress Step Into College Football Realignment?

My guess is "Yes." 

Yesterday's NYT reported that at least one member of Congress is looking into it:
In a telephone interview early Sunday morning, a congressman from a state with a university that could be harmed by realignment said that the issue raised concerns over taxes, antitrust law and, potentially, Title IX.

While no one has formally approached Congress yet, the congressman, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the situation was “spinning out of control.”

“I think the situation is rising to a level where getting Congress engaged may be unavoidable,” he said. He added: “Congress has the nexus to engage. These are tax-exempt organizations now making billions off of unpaid athletes. When it’s a regional league, it seems to make sense. When you’re taking schools practically from coast to coast and putting them in big-profit revenue leagues, we may be at a point where the N.C.A.A. has lost its ability to create a fair system for all to play in.”
I can't remember the lat time I saw a member of Congress quoted on a condition of anonymity.

At The Arizona Republic Bob Young lays out where he thinks all this might be headed -- four super conference and a national playoff:
The four conferences will have two divisions and a conference championship game. After those are played a BCS Tournament Selection Committee will seed the four winners along with two at-large teams.

The two at-large teams may be selected from among non-BCS teams, independents such as Notre Dame and Brigham Young or BCS conference teams which did not qualify for a conference championship game - all based on power rankings, human polls or a combination as we have now.

Division champs that are beaten in the conference championship game are excluded because, in essence, they've had their playoff shot and lost.

So let's say Alabama is undefeated and Florida has one loss - to division opponent Alabama.

The tournament committee might pick Florida as an at-large.

This would give non-BCS teams such as Boise State a shot if they're ranked high enough, keep Notre Dame in the mix but also allow the best teams into a playoff if they're in a killer division.

After seeding, the two at-large teams would play the two lowest-seeded conference winners in the Cotton Bowl and Fiesta Bowl.

The two highest-seeded winners get a bye into the semifinal games to be played in the Sugar and Orange.
And the national championship is played in the Rose Bowl.

The bowls would rotate assignments just as they do now so they all get national-championship games.
While he is likely wrong on the details, I think that the idea of a national playoff is inevitable as is a reconfiguration of conferences.  With only 48 teams in 4 "superconferences" a lot of schools will be left out.  This plus the amount of money involved essentially guarantees that Congress will step in.  How can they resist?


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