Don't get me wrong, college football is the greatest thing going, outside of every four years when FIFA stages the World Cup. But there are a few things I would like to see to improve the game, make things more interesting, and most importantly, make me happier. These are in no particular order, just as they come to the forefront of my medula oblongata. Hit the jump.
1) Overtime. Yes, it's a better system than the NFL uses because both teams have a chance. However, it's not real football. How often does an offense start on the 25? Honestly. What if a team intercepts a pass and returns it to the other four-yard line. They then have to start at the 25 for their possession? Dumb. I'd like to see the NFL model, except where teams are guaranteed an equal number of possessions. That way if you kick off, then your defense gets a three-and-out, you get better field position. If your defense gives up forty yards, then you get pinned inside the 10, tough luck.
Realistically, that will never happen at either level. It's too much common sense. The best thing we should hope for is moving back the starting spot to the 40-yard line. At least then a team has to get a first down to get within decent field goal range.
2) Scheduling. It's great to see some teams really stepping up their non-conference scheduling with USC-Ohio State, Georgia-Oklahoma State and the like this year. However, there are some teams that just can't help themselves (I'm talking to you Mike Leach). The first rule should be that teams are restricted to playing just one I-AA every two years. That's it. The games are no fun to watch, they're a waste of time. Frankly, I'd say no games, but I don't want to deprive players at those schools the chance to play at a big time venue like Tiger Stadium or The Big House.
The second rule would be that teams can only play a total of 15 home games over any two year stretch [any neutral site game, or game where the road team collects ticket revenue (as in LSU's deal with Tulane) would count as 0.5 home games]. Theoretically right now, teams can play eight home games a year, or up to 16 over two years. LSU plays a "road game" at Tulane, but gets revenue for every seat filled over 40,000 or so. This would force bigger teams to go on the road at least every other year to five other teams a shot, whether it's a mid-major or a major inter-sectional batle.
3) Breaking Scheduling Contracts. It seems like every year, some team opts out of its contract to go for a bigger pay day or a TV game. Start building into the contracts that if a team opts out, it's not just a buyout, they have to find a suitable replacement that doesn't break the I-AA rule. In 2004, Bowling Green, who went 9-3 that year, opted out of its Auburn game to play at Oklahoma. Auburn had to replace them with Western Kentucky. Both teams went undefeated, Oklahoma had a tougher strength of schedule and played for the national title. I'm not saying that was the reason, but it didn't help, especially when everyone was ripping the Tigers non-conference schedule.
4) The BCS Standings. Now, now, I'm not going to pile on the BCS system. It tries. But that's too easy a target. The biggest problem now is with the way the top two teams are chosen. It's basically the human polls, which are laughable to a fault with the computers serving as a tiebreaker. Frankly, I felt the old really intricate and complicated system was much better. It lessened the Team A-lost-so-automatically-drop-it-six-spots-in-the-polls effect. The polls now reward losing early and winning late regardless of the level of opposition. If I were the SEC Commissioner, I would demand that all my top 10 teams face each other in September or early October, then tee off on Vanderbilt, Mississippi State, Kentucky and a few non-conference patsies come late October and November. Then, when each team has won seven in a row by over 20 points each and all ranked in the top 10, everyone thinks they're world beaters.
Oh, and please put margin of victory back in the computer formulas. Do it with a regressing value added for higher margins and cap it at 28 points or so, but still put it in there. If Team A beats Team C by 24 and Team D by 18, it's a good indicator that they are better than Team B, who won the same games by one and three. As for tacking on late touchdowns or field goals, they count when the game is close, why not when it's not. If you don't want them to score, stop them.
5) ABC. Someone take the remote out of ABC's hands. This may come as a shock to the powers at be that run ABC's college football programming, but the Saturday regional broadcasts are an abomination. Living in Alabama, I'm subject to the ACC game. Don't get me wrong, I love watching Wake Forest and Maryland (sarcasm much) duke it out instead of Oklahoma-Texas or USC-Oregon. It drives me up the freaking wall that they think just because I live closer to North Carolina, albeit still three states away, that I would rather watch them than a better match up. Also, we're way into the HD thing now. If you're gonna broadcast a game, do it in HD (that goes for everyone!)
6) The Big Ten schedules. The Big Ten has a wonderful tradition when it comes to scheduling. The first three weeks of the season they play non-conference games. They then play eight conference games in nine weeks, with each team getting a "bye" (non-conference game) and everything wraps up before Thanksgiving, nice and tidy. However, it's teams are getting battered in bowl games and they're out-of-site, out-of-mind for the BCS. Illinois has it right this year, saving two of its non-conference games for after the league slate. Who knows, maybe it will lead to a changing of the guard, much like the way the SEC went to every team playing its final game during Thanksgiving weekend. Fairness all around.
7) Independents. I kind of miss the days when Miami and Penn State and other powers were independents. However, with bowl contracts and mega-TV deals everyone has to be in a conference. Well, everyone except Notre Dame. Maybe that's just me being nostalgic. At least we still have Army-Navy.
8) Conference Challenges. You would never be able to get the coaches to agree, but they should do it anyway. If the SEC and Big 12 got together, packaged an SEC-Big 12 Challenge, they could do the TV rights huge and own the media landscape for a week. Pick one weekend of games. Have teams face off based on final standings from the year before. Play two games on Thursday night and 10 on Saturday. Schedule them at intervals for maximum viewing. Use neutral sites, use campus sights, who cares. Just do it! Let the Big 10 plus Notre Dame face the ACC. Have the Mountain West fight the Big East for a BCS automatic bid. Let the Sun Belt take on the final eight from the I-AA tournament the year before. Okay, that was a cheap shot, and I admit it. But I still stand by it.