As much as I love college football, it's problems are setting the stage for an implosion of the sport. (OK, maybe "implosion" is a little strong. But it's sitting on the precipice of a cliff, and if something doesn't change quickly, off the edge it goes...) Two events in the news today signify the breaking point:
Dateline Knoxville, Tennessee. The Tennessee Volunteers just secured a commitment from Evan Berry. No big deal, you say? What if I told you that he's not even in high school yet. That's right. Tennessee just got a verbal from a 13 year old kid that just finished the eighth grade.
Stop and digest that for a second. He's not scheduled to graduate high school until 2013, and can't officially be offered a scholarship for another three years.
The madness is mitigated slightly by the fact that Berry is the son of former Vol James Berry and the brother of all-American safety Eric Berry, who'll be a junior this fall. Madness, mockery, whatever you want to call it, but when colleges are recruiting at the junior high level, you've got proof that something has gone off the deep end. As the Sporting Blog points out, the chances that this commitment will hold are pretty low. He very well might end up at Tennessee in the end due to the family history, but the idea of a 13 year old making a college decision pretty much makes a mockery of the current mess that is college recruiting.
Dateline Washington: Next Monday, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) is making the case for anti-trust action against the BCS due to the inequities of the current situation. College football is sitting on a powder keg here; if the BCS presidents continue to stonewall against the inevitable college football playoff, they run the risk of getting the federal government mandating a playoff. It's not going to happen soon, but count on it... The BCS deal with ESPN is likely to be the last one unless the college presidents make some serious changes to the current system. Otherwise, change will be forced on them.
Think that's unrealistic? Think this will damage the game? Think again, and think back to the last time the issue of anti-trust interjected on college football. In 1984, the Supreme Court found that the NCAA's control over the television rights for college football was a violation. Back then, only two or three games were shown on television each week, usually regionally.
Now, ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, and FSN usually carry three games each Saturday, with additional games on CBS, Versus, and CBS College Sports. Not to mention regional syndication of games. Did that hurt college football? Hardly. For those of us old enough to remember those days in the 70's and 80's, Nebraska usually only got one or two games televised each season. Now, with pay-per-view, nearly every game in recent years has been televised.
Let's be honest. The BCS is better than it's predecessors, but one way or another, we're going to have a college football playoff. It's better for everybody if colleges find a way to make it happen themselves rather than wait for the government to mandate it.