May 30, 2011 may be considered Dark Day 3 in the eyes of Buckeye fans across the world. Jim Tressel's resignation falls on the heels of several months of speculation concerning the integrity of the program and its coach. Tressel lied to the NCAA about his role in the now infamous "Tattoo Gate". Furthermore, allegations of improprieties from former players regarding discounts on automobile purchases, have cast a dark shadow on a proud program.
What do the events in Columbus say about the world of College Football? Legends like Woody Hayes, Bo Schembechler, and Bear Bryant are rolling over in their graves now. However, some of the rules still in effect by the NCAA are older than the legends now rolling. College Football is a huge business that generates billions on the backs, knees, and shoulders of the young men who go out every Saturday and entertain the millions in stadiums and on television around the world.
Right or wrong, the five Buckeyes who sold memorabilia for tattoos and cash were wrong in doing so. These players claimed hardship as their defense for selling these items. Is the world of college sports so distorted that 18 and 19 year old young men need to hock precious items to make ends meet? Is it worth a coaching career to "cover up" knowledge of these improprieties in order to win? Why would the most dominate coach in recent history mortgage his future on the cover up of these infractions knowing what the ultimate penalty would be?
Some reports stated that Tressel was instructed by the FBI to keep confidentiality regarding the email he received from Columbus attorney Chris Cicero, in order to preserve the integrity of the investigation of local tattoo parlor owner Edward Rife. If this was true, Tressel may have received a pass on his cover up. An order from a federal entity trumps the NCAA 10 times out of 10. However no one has come forward to validate this theory. Even if this rumor became a true fact, the subsequent release of other damaging information further tarnished the OSU program and its coach.
Well a coach lied about major violations to protect his players eligibility. An historic Top Ten program receives a black eye. Four starters will sit out the first five games of a senior season. Furthermore, they will be known as the “players that got coach fired”. How does college sports remedy a situation like this? Read on.
Many including myself believe that “revenue sports” should be able to compensate players. You can call it a “profit share” similar to an incentive program any other major corporation may have. It is time for the college presidents who make up the BCS to sit down and strategize the most efficient use of the talent they control.
Imagine if the top 64 teams break away from the NCAA and form 4 super conferences consisting of 16 teams. Each super conference would have 2 divisions of 8 teams. At the end of a 12 game season, 8 division winners would be seeded 1 through 8, creating 4 quarter final games. Whaddya know, there are four “BCS” bowl games who would gladly welcome LSU v. Southern Cal, or Michigan v. Texas. I think you catch my drift.
A week later there would be a National Semifinal Game, and 2 weeks later, the often talked about “Plus One” National Championship game.
Talk about revenue opportunities. Adding the “Plus One” means the eventual National Champion and runner-up only play one additional game. The silly notion of students missing class time is eliminated because the playoff games follow the existing BCS bowl schedule. Now a true playoff system is formed and a true National Champion is crowned.
What about the remaining bowl games and remaining teams in the super conferences that performed well during the season? Let the Peach Bowl, Liberty Bowl, and Papa Johns.com, bowl send out invitations like they do now. The week prior to the holidays up to New Year’s Eve is now filled with top notch College Football entertainment while we wait for the big boys to battle it out for the Sears Trophy.
Now let’s get to the real reason for this playoff system. It’s about the billions of dollars that can be generated. A major network that rhymes with “box” has the pockets to fund such a venture. The compensation plan per school is based on a profit share per conference. Each team receives 1/64 of the profits from television revenue. The additional revenue generated by ticket sales, merchandising, and apparel contracts is totaled up for each conference and divided equally amongst its members. The powers that be decide on a percentage to pay its players. Let’s say 25%. Now Vanderbilt can compete with Michigan State on a recruiting platform. Now players have compensation for their work and can be responsible for their income taxes, tuition, room, board, books, and still have some money on which to live. Require that all players enroll in and successfully complete investment classes in order to manage their money. There is still plenty of money to fund the “non revenue” sports. Now Terrelle Pryor doesn’t have to sell his championship ring to aid a struggling family. Jim Tressel doesn’t have to lie about receiving emails regarding his players and “tattoo gate”. Now Boise State does not have to lose scholarships because of violations committed by the tennis team, and Reggie Bush still has a Heisman.