Frank Commentary

I have an unhealthy infatuation with college football. Like many of you, it consumes way too much of time. But unlike many of you, at least I get paid for it. Ha! College football is the greatest game in sport, but like anything, it has flaws as well. Here's what I'd do with college football if I were in charge.

I know I won't ever be in charge of college football, but like every armchair quarterback, I'm certain I can do a better job. Here are the top 10 things I'd change about college football. See if you agree.

Early signing period: College football needs an early signing period, and I believe that should be in November. With the expansion of media coverage following recruiting, many prospects simply get tired of the process and would like to end it early. The constant phone calls and attention from both media and fans alike can become distracting to both the prospect and the family. Some make their decisions very early and simply want the process over with. I choose November because that gives the prospect plenty of time to watch his future team , take an official visit there, and make an informed decision.

Also, it's unfair to the Universities recruiting players. If a University gets a verbal commitment from three defensive linemen and fills their needs at that particular position, and they stop recruiting other defensive linemen because they've already filled their needs, it seems unfair for a prospect to suddenly change his mind. The University is making a commitment to the player under the assumption he'll sign in February, but as we've seen many times, that doesn't happen.

I also believe there should be an "out clause" for coaching changes. If a prospect chooses to sign early and the University changes coaches, the prospect should have the option to de-commit and look at other options.

It would be nice to have a "liar" clause as well, but then most of these kids could get out of their commitments at the end of the day. It is what it is…..a shady business a lot of the time.

Make accepting a verbal commitment binding: A rather disgusting recent trend I've seen with schools is accepting verbal commitments from players and then later dropping them when they find players they feel are better. This is happening far too often lately, and like anything else, the more it happens the less appalled we are by it. I believe this to be morally wrong, and the NCAA should do something about it. Universities should honor their scholarship offers that they've accepted, regardless of the circumstance.

It's interesting that this seems to be happening in the south mostly, where recruiting is very fierce, but it's only a matter of time before it creeps up into all areas of the country, and pretty soon it will be, "that's just the way it goes." Sorry, that isn't the way it should go.

Early official visit period: This, I believe, is an important change the NCAA needs to enact and soon. The recruiting cycle for many prospects has advanced so quickly, and the NCAA hasn't stayed with the times. I remember looking at the Top 100 around July of this year and noticing almost 80 percent of the top 100 players had already verbally committed to a school, yet none had taken an official visit to any of these schools.

If you're a quarterback in today's college game you simply have to be committed to a school by August or you'll likely be the odd man out. How are these prospects to know which schools are the best situation for them if they can have very little contact with the coaching staffs recruiting them (unless they call the coaches), and can't officially visit the schools?

The NCAA should change their recruiting contact period to include full contact during the spring and allow official visits during the spring. They need to react to the changing environment of college football. Most families cannot afford to pay for five trips to various schools to check them out, but since most kids are committing early, this is essentially what happens. The prospects visit these schools on their own dime and don't get to spend the time they need speaking with the coaches, academics people, and the players to make an informed decision.

Allow one adult to accompany prospect on official visits: This, to me, is just plain stupid. The NCAA doesn't allow colleges to pay for an accompanying adult on official visits. So if a family doesn't have the money to send an adult on five official visits, the prospect ends up going alone. Now how does this make sense?

17-year-old men are easily influenced with the right stimulus. It isn't hard to figure out what the right stimulus might be as those doing the recruiting were once impressionable 17-year-old men. It makes zero sense to not make sure an adult is with the prospect on all these official visits.

Monthly stipend: I know many will disagree with me on this, but I believe a small stipend should be issued to each player under scholarship. Make it $50 a week and give these prospects the same opportunity of the college experience as the normal student has. Yes, they're getting a free education, and most kids don't get that opportunity, but they're also risking their lives and limbs for that opportunity. I wasn't born smart. I didn't complain when the intelligent kids received a "full ride" and I had to sling tacos 35 hours per week just to make it through college. That's just life.

These student/athletes don't get the opportunity to have a part-time job to make extra money, and some families simply cannot afford to give them extra money. I, at least, had the opportunity to earn some bucks so I could buy a few beers and a pizza on the weekend, or take a girlfriend out to the movies. For the athletes, this is their part-time job. They don't have the opportunity to earn extra money. Those born with superior intelligence likely don't even need to work in college as they've earned other academic scholarships as well as their "full ride." So the brainiac gets the dough but the athlete doesn't? Some top tuba player gets his entire school played for because he has the best bottom lip? It's all a matter of perspective here.

Limit stoppage of play: I realize that the networks need to make money. I understand this and I realize commercials are a necessity, but we've got to stop this insanity. We don't need to stop play every time there's a change of possession or a time out. I say let's get all the commercials in on a few stoppages---at the beginning of the game, once during the first half, half time, once during the second half, and then at the end of the game. I don't mind another minute of commercials at one point if it keeps the game flowing. The constant stopping of the game kills momentum. I'd like to see this changed.

Officials review: I've long thought college officials got a free ride on their bad calls. Nobody knows who they are. Nobody knows if it's the same guy making bad calls every week. Nobody knows anything about the officials.

When players have their names on the back of their jerseys, and the official says "holding, on No. 74, 10-yard penalty," I think "outing" that player is fine as the fans want to know. But why do the officials get a free ride?

I'd like the officials to have their names on their uniforms. I'd also like to see a weekly press conference held by the NCAA discussing bad calls and what repercussions there will be for bad calls. I'm not suggesting there needs to be major consequences, but a little accountability might be nice.

No conference officials: The NCAA needs to do away with conference officials. After watching an official throw a shoulder into a player this year to stop the player near the goal line, it became obvious to me that maybe there might be some bias in some of these officials.

And it's only human nature to be biased. I don't blame them. I have my biases as well. Most probably don't even realize they're being biased. Also, people hold grudges. If you're dealing with the same guy each week, and he angers you each week, you can't tell me that this doesn't impact the game somehow. Not every game. Not every call, but at some time it has to.

The problem is cost. The NCAA can't afford to fly people all over the country to referee these games, but I'm sure if you threw a few ads on their jersey that someone would pay for their travel. They look ridiculous enough in their uniform anyway. I doubt a few ads will make much of a difference.

Get rid of a certain guy on ABC who annoys me: I'm not going to "out" the guy because that is rude, but if he annoys me he has to annoy everyone. He's an announcer at the game. Sometimes he's in the booth. Most of the time he's not. All the time he's annoying the crap out of me. There's nothing more frustrating than wanting to watch a game and have to listen to someone who constantly, continually annoys you so much you can't even stand to watch the game. I'm annoying. I know this, but ABC doesn't put me on TV to annoy you. They shouldn't put this guy on either.

Every non-bowl team gets 10 practices after the season: Again, this seems unfair to those teams trying to get better. Why is it that bowl teams get essentially a full spring practice and those that really need the practice are stuck at home twiddling their thumbs?

Some will say a bowl is a reward for a good season. I agree. It is. And they get to go to the bowl. Those that aren't going to a bowl get to practice without the reward.

That seems pretty simple, doesn't it?

A playoff: Yes, I'm a playoff guy. Why? Nobody questions anything after the playoff. Were the Kansas Jayhawks the best basketball team in the country last year? I'm not sure. If they played Memphis 10 times out of 10, how many would they win? I don't know, maybe four. But it doesn't matter. Nobody questions who won. They played for it all and everyone had their shot. It seems so simple.

Sure, there are all kinds of ways to put it together. I like the eight team format. I don't think the ninth-best team really has an argument, do they? Yes, you'd have to include the major BCS conferences, although I wouldn't, but I understand why they need to be there.

At the end of the day there would be no argument. It's kind of like arguing who would win a fight. Once they fight, it's over. There is no argument. It's just over.

I say we let someone like, let's just say me, who am unbiased, and will pick the right teams, pick the teams and let's get it on.


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