‘Super League’ red meat for college football diet

‘Super League’ red meat for college football diet
                        

Don’t for a minute be hoodwinked by the snowflakes that recently hijacked the local weather forecast. Mother Nature’s Tom Foolery was not a signal that another college football season is just around the goal post.

Kickoff is a long, long way off, and yet, even now we’re supposed to believe drama abounds when it comes to the big question: “Who’s in?” Stewards of the Div. I national championship would have us conclude the field is wide open for 2021-22, that it’s never too early to start analyzing the landscape of qualifiers and also-rans.

The CFP’s official website specifies that “the format fits within the academic calendar and preserves the sport’s unique and compelling regular season.”

Hooey on that. While the potentates of the CFP would prefer to have college football front and center 365 days a year, there’s no need to get too juiced about the gridiron bracketology. The parade of possibilities is more like a charade of possibilities. Only a handful of teams stand a legitimate chance to play for the title.

As the daffodils bloom in the wild throughout the region, it’s a pretty safe bet that even the average fan can pencil in four national semifinalists.

Hype alert!

Alabama. Ohio State. Oklahoma. Notre Dame. How’s that for going out on a limb? I hear ya, Southern Cal and Texas. Hold on, Florida and Georgia. Clemson? Auburn? There’s only so much room at the top, ya know?

So much for the never-ending titillation that’s supposed to be the CFP’s brand. The magic isn’t there anymore. It’s time for a new bromance.

Just don’t expect college football in the U.S. to take a cue from the sport of futbol any time soon. In America, that game is commonly known as soccer, and recently, there was an attempt to form a European “Super League” that would have pulled together 12 of the most elite clubs. The groundbreaking concept carried the promise of vast fortune for all involved.

The “Super League” already is a thing of the past. It took only 48 hours for the idea to blow up in the greedy organizers’ faces. Six of the clubs — all from the English Premier League — pulled out of the potentially lucrative project, bowing to push-back from fans, Britain’s government and soccer’s governing authorities.

Chelsea and Manchester City were the first teams to say they were quitting the $4 billion enterprise. Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham soon jumped ship as well. The six remaining holdouts suggest there still might be a way to “reshape the project.”

On this side of The Pond, any stratagem that would result in beefier bank accounts always seems to be red meat — especially in college football. The rub is that a “super league” already exists. It’s called the Power Five, the posse of conferences (65 universities) that run roughshod over the national championship selection process.

Yet the question has been asked: How much money could a group of elite college football programs make if they did break away from their conferences, pooled their television rights and sold them to a network willing to share the bounty?

Remember, the CFP is not an entity of the National Collegiate Athletic Association. CFP Administration LLC manages the operations of the college football playoff. Members of the company are the 10 FBS conferences (American Athletic, Atlantic Coast, Big Ten, Big 12, Conference USA, Mid-American, Mountain West, Pac-12, Southeastern and Sun Belt) and the University of Notre Dame. A small staff in the CFP office in Irving, Texas carries out the day-to-day responsibilities.

In November 2012 the group and ESPN reached an agreement in principle for ESPN to present the games for 12 years on an exclusive basis across its platforms.

The NCAA does not organize or award an official national championship in Div. I football (recognizing, instead, the decisions made by any of a number of independent major championship selectors). The CFP formula produces revenue for all FBS schools and for Football Championship Subdivision conferences that meet a predetermined threshold of grants-in-aid.

The CFP website takes the fairness issue even further by stating, “No team qualifies automatically, so every Football Bowl Subdivision team has equal access to the CFP based on its performance during the season.”

Again: hooey, hooey, hooey (See Power Five referenced earlier).

But would a college football super league — which truthfully hasn’t yet been thoroughly considered — be a viable cure for the current system’s ills? Is it — or should it be — all about the money?

As Associated Press scribe Ralph D. Russo recently pointed out: “Long before the Big Ten had 14 teams and the Pac-8 had grown to the Pac-12, there were folks in college sports tossing around the idea of a national football conference.”

A fellow named Jeff Nelson is president of the consulting firm, Navigate, which has worked with four of the five power conferences in college sports. His rough estimate of a 32-team college football super league indicates the bigger schools in the SEC and Big Ten could make more than twice the television revenue than they take in now. Nelson estimates Pac-12 and ACC schools could make five times as much.

Bloodcurdling, isn’t it? Such numbers must have the Nick Sabans of the planet licking their chops — or maybe not. Does Alabama really require its association with Vanderbilt and Ole Miss to make buckets o’ bucks? Likewise, Ohio State (and Michigan) could survive handily without Purdue and Rutgers. Does Clemson really feed off Wake Forest?

Notre Dame? Now that’s the cash cow of cash cows, regardless of conference affiliation or lack thereof.

Chances are, however, a college football super league would only exacerbate the perception that the sport has grown far too exclusive as it stands. Many might even go so far as to compare the model to European futbol, insisting a super league simply wouldn’t be good for the game.

The same way snowflakes aren’t good for daffodils.


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