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Editorial: College football disappoints

Published 9:31am Wednesday, September 12, 2012

College football remains the laughingstock of sports. Mind you, there are big bucks in college football, but its organization — or lack of — is beset with huge problems. There isn’t a fan in college football who doesn’t disparage how college football works. It’s no way to run a railroad, brother.

For those readers wanting to keep track, here is a bullet-point list of college football problems:

• The power conferences and big bowl committees call the shots, not the NCAA. This is the biggest problem. In nearly every other sport, there is more of a central authority to determine things like how to crown a champion fairly.

• There is so much dishonesty. One year bowl officials complain that a playoff would destroy traditions and the next they favor the implementation of a playoff system. One year they argue that more games would hurt student academics and the next year an additional game is added to the schedules. Then they add more bowls. One year college presidents will claim conference loyalty, the next they move their schools to a new conference.

• Everywhere you turn, people are looking the other way so athletes can comply with arcane NCAA rules regarding gifts, support, study, agents, side jobs and morally questionable activities. It’s a sham fans tolerate so they can enjoy crisp fall Saturdays and a good contest on the campus of their alma mater.

• The conferences are fighting among themselves for schools. The Big Ten now has 12 teams. The Big 12 now has 10 teams. Both have taken schools from other conferences. The Southeastern Conference, the biggest football powerhouse and the stealer of the most schools, has mushroomed to 14 schools. Fans’ heads are spinning over the changes and the loss of many longtime rivalries.

• Schools make millions off students who play football, but the players themselves are not allowed to receive any pay for their efforts under an outdated notion of amateur athletics. In capitalism, those who create value deserve to be paid. Sure, these young men get scholarships, but that is a fraction of their value. These players pretty much have become unpaid employees of the universities and conferences. They deserve to make more than the students who get paid to work in the cafeteria, the towel room and other places on campus.

• Schools in major conferences are the only ones who can compete for national titles because the system favors them, rather than treating all institutions fairly. It’s almost like big hogs at a trough not wanting to share with the other pigs.

What can fans do? They have complained and complained, yet not much is done. There is the possibility of a playoff system, as that is under consideration by the leaders in the sport. The days of paying the players, however, remains far away.

What are your thoughts? What would you do to change college football? Send us a letter by email: letters@albertleatribune.com.