College football’s an unwieldy sport that sometimes makes zero sense — and part of that is the appeal. But the fact that it has no central commissioner, just leaders for conferences, can be problematic at times.
Over the weekend, ESPN’s David Hale asked what changes fans would make if they had unilateral power as college football commissioner for one day. Fans and journalists alike have been responding since Saturday, and we thought we’d weigh in as well. Most of these were mentioned by Hale or others already.
1. Abolish divisions
We’ve long had an issue with divisions, especially given how it makes the ACC (and its eight-game schedule) into two separate conferences. Whether you use the pod system or the three permanent opponents model, either is a better alternative to what we have now.
2. Free student section tickets
Syracuse and most other private school students pay for tickets, while some public schools let kids in for free. If you’re worried about attendance (and everyone is right now), making it zero cost to attend the game helps both prioritize students and maximize the number of fans you can get in the building.
3. Stop counting sacks as run plays
Among the most frustrating aspects of covering college football is the way it counts sacks as runs, and the confusion that makes when looking at running QBs. You can find a list excluding sacks, but it still takes effort that frankly shouldn’t be required.
4. Add pre-2002 bowl stats to history books
Before 2002, bowl stats didn’t count toward career/season numbers, much like they don’t for pro sports’ playoffs. Let’s fix that and Syracuse’s record books a bit by those metrics in for a more fair comparision.
5. Bring back EA Sports NCAA Football
I JUST WANT TO PLAY THE DAMN GAME AGAIN, DAMMIT. PAY THE KIDS.
6. Player compensation
I don’t have a magic solution here, but player compensation needs to be on the table, as does payment for use of likeness and potentially endorsements, too. At bare minimum, every school should have additional stipends beyond tuition and housing to cover food and other needed items. A trust that can be accessed when players are done with college is a viable option toward making compensation beneficial to all players and not just stars.
7. Open media access
Every coach has their own rules around who can talk and who can’t on their staff and their roster. If players are paid in some way, it becomes easier to put rules around them responding to questions before and after games. I think any full-time coach should be available for media questions as well.
8. Fixing player transfers
Undergraduate players get one “free” transfer to any school of their choosing (as long as they’re not on the old team’s schedule for the season in question). Graduate players (fifth- and sixth-year seniors) have no limitations, since they’ve already completed their required course loads.
9. Declaring for the draft
College basketball is getting closer to fixing this dynamic, to be honest. But players should be able to declare without an agent, then return to their college team if they aren’t selected where they’d prefer. If you sign with an agent, you’re stuck, however.
10. Normalize scheduling across conferences
I mentioned scheduling earlier, but if you get rid of divisions, nine games aren’t necessary anymore. Everyone goes back down to eight games, leaving room for out-of-conference rivalries and for developing programs to get back on their feet with easier games (if they so choose). All P5 schools must schedule at least one P5 school out of their league, however.
11. Expand College Football Playoff to six teams
This helps fix the current dynamic where one or two conferences are left out every year, and removes some of the uncertainty that creates in media circles all the time around “which conference is most vulnerable” to fall apart.
12. If your team name is a color, you have to wear that color in some form
A pointed solution at a particular Syracuse Orange program that fails to wear ORANGE regularly. Logos don’t count. Must be at least one uniform element (helmet, jersey, pants) in the correct color.
I’m sure I could think of a whole lot more. What would you add (or subtract)?