Change The Rules: How MLB, the NFL, and College Football Can Improve

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 Change The Rules: How MLB, the NFL, and College Football Can Improve
Alex Wong/Getty Images
President Obama supports a BCS Playoff system


The Problem

  • 16 teams in the National League play for four playoff spots, and one division—the NL Central—has six teams. Teams in the NL Central have a 16.66 percent chance of winning their division. 
  • Compare that to the American League where 14 teams play for four playoff spots, and one division—the AL West—has four teams. Teams in the AL West have a 25 percent chance of winning their division.
  • In short, it's a better gig to play in the American League, and it's a much, much better gig to play in the AL West than the NL Central.

    The Ideal Solution

    • The Rangers (AL West) play just outside of Dallas. The Astros (NL Central) play in Houston, just 240 miles away. In the names of equity and fairness, let's move the Astros to the AL West (and maybe the Pirates can make the playoffs again some day).


    The Problem

    • First round NFL Draft picks are the most over-compensated workers on the face of The Earth.
    • Every year, dozens of players who will never start for an NFL team, walk away with more money than proven veterans who are high-quality starters.
    • In 2010, the St. Louis Rams will pay No. 1 pick Sam Bradford, a QB with a history of injury problems coming from a college style offense, an estimated $45-50 million in guaranteed money over six years. By comparison, Drew Brees, Super Bowl champion, and a top-two quarterback in the NFL, makes $10 million a year, just a hair over a guy who might never make a Pro Bowl team.

    The Ideal Solution

    • Derek Rose, the No. 1 pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, will make between $5 million and $6 million a year in his first two seasons. This is equivalent to the salary of a proven veteran who is a quality bench player. Sounds about right.

    College Football  

    The Problem  

    • The existing BCS Bowl system is fundamentally flawed. 
    • D1-A teams can win every game they play over the course of a season, and not have an opportunity to play for a National Championship.

    The Ideal Solution

    • A playoff system that addresses monetary and academic concerns.
    • After the completion of the regular season, eight teams qualify for a post-season playoff. 
    • Each of the existing power conferences (Pac 10, Big 10, Big 12, SEC, ACC and Big East) receives one automatic bid into the playoff. However, in order to be eligible for the playoff, team's have to finish in the Top 10 of the BCS Rankings (take that Big East). After conference championship winners who finish in the top 10 of the BCS Rankings qualify, the next highest ranked teams in the BCS top ten round out the eight teams. 
    • You would expect between two and four At-large bids in an average season. All D-1 A schools are eligible for At-large bids if they finish in the top ten of the BCS Rankings. 
    • The existing four BCS Bowl Games will remain intact as National Quarterfinal games, and traditional conference rivalries will largely hold as well: 
    • Rose Bowl = Pac 10 vs. Big 10 

      Orange Bowl = ACC vs. Big East 

      Sugar Bowl = SEC vs. At-large bid 

      Fiesta Bowl = Big 12 vs. At-large bid

    • The traditional BCS bowl games (now the BCS Playoff Quarterfinals) will kick off bowl season. They'll take place the week after academic finals, which would be Saturday, December 18 this season. The conference championship games are played on Saturday, December 4, giving teams two weeks for studies and game preparations.
    • Scheduling for non-BCS Bowl games can remain intact
    • The BCS Playoff Semi-Final Games take place on the first Saturday in January (never mind the NFL, they'll have to schedule Saturday games around the BCS Playoff).
    • The BCS Final is played the following weekend at a neutral site (think Cowboy stadium) that rotates every year (ala the Super Bowl). It could be sponsored by Samsung.
    • Net-net: two teams play one more game (the semi-final losers), and two teams play two more games (the semi-final winners). That puts the teams at a grand total of 15 games and 16 games, respectively, for the season. Compare that to the NFL where the Super Bowl Champ can play up to 25 games in a season, and I think the players will survive.
    • The fans are happier. We lose the dead period and huge dip in fan interest that takes place after the conference championships. College Football becomes America’s No. 1 sport through mid-January.
    • Everyone makes more money. 

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