I used the following topics for part of my "5-in-5" segment of my sports show where I debate the hottest topics in national sports. This is my favorite time of year, when America's new pastime is in its full glory. Forget baseball - football's been the national game for years, and everyone knows it. The most menial play in a gridiron highlight reel is typically more awe-inspiring than what would be considered phenomenal feats of athleticism on the diamond.
But while it's the most popular sport in America, it's far from perfect. And the biggest room in the world is the room for improvement, and this season's certainly candidate for that, so consider the following things I find objectionable in the college game today.
- Conditionally implementing instant replay - with the Big Ten having spent last season being the NCAA's guinea pig for the test of whether instant replay reviews can be inserted into the college game, we were all left shaking our heads. Duh?!? Of course it would work. Now, it's implemented in all but two conferences - the WAC and the Sun-Belt - both of which are pretty much ignored by network TV coverage. We all knew/know instant replay would be a positive thing for the game. It's already worked definitively this season (twice against Michigan vs. Notre Dame), and any football purist will tell you it's a step in the right direction. It's time to allow instant replays (and possibly NFL-style coaches challenges) across the board.
- Games are taking way too long - chalk up the previous benefits of instant replay as a contributing factor for longer games. In certain situations, televised college games are lasting as long as four hours to finish. Four hours? That's insane. An incessant amount of TV timeouts, extended commercial breaks, long delays, and the ever-damaging college rule that stops the game clock while the chains are being moved add up to very long experiences. Some have suggested shortening the quarters to 10 minutes, which will never happen. I say reduce the forced stoppage of play due to promotional and school hype considerations and let the people play.
- Overtime - even though I've listed OT here as a shortcoming, I actually like it a little. The NCAA's version of deciding games has been relegated to the game of bluff we all played as 13-year-olds in basketball (if I try and make it, then you try and miss, I win). It's an insult that such a system exists in a sport so complex. Ironically, NFL analysts want the college OT rule applied towards its games, with too games being decided by the unlucky outcome of a coin flip.
- The Bowl Championship Series - while the preceding arguments are debatable by coaches, analysts and sportswriters nationwide, the one consensus everyone involved with college football has is that the BCS has got to go. While conceived as a means of more accurately determining a national championship by calculating a team's RPI by way of (de)valuing overall/conference record, strength of schedule, margin of victory, and performance. Sounds good, but it's never worked out. Someone's always going to get screwed. If it were left up to human voting, we'd be complaining about constant political interference leaving a team out of bowl consideration or rankings. It may make perfect sense mathematically, but not artificial intelligence engine I know of can realistically determine that a Auburn shouldn't have won a national championship in 2004, or LSU should have been sole champions a year before. It's not working and it's got to go. Solution? We need a playoff tournament. It works for Division III schools, so why not implement it with the cash cow?