More Than Ever Before College Football Needs A Commissioner

May 12, 2020, 3:06 PM
College Football Playoff...
Is the time now for College Football to hire a commissioner? (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – We are in an election year, so what better time to put out the idea of a newly elected official. Only this one wouldn’t be in politics he/she would be in something that gives us far more, that being college football.

Why now?

More than ever before the time is now for college football to have one voice leading the entire operation.

Have you seen all the differing opinions and overall disconnect on how college football should look amid the COVID-19 pandemic this fall?

One Power 5 commissioner in the Big 12’s Bob Bowlsby says games could be played if schools are online-only this fall. Then days later, Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said he doesn’t believe the sport can be played without students on campus.

NCAA President Mark Emmert came out last week and said if there are no students on campus, there will be no sports. That sounds nice but Emmert has no pull and leadership over the conferences themselves.

The greed, the self-serving interests of each conference commissioner are showing itself with each passing day. College Football needs one voice. Even Alabama head coach Nick Saban has expressed in the past that he would like to see a commissioner oversee college football.

“I think we need somebody…who can be unbiased in how decisions are getting made on what can and can’t be done and have the best interests of college football,” Saban said to radio host Paul Finebaum in 2016. “Whether it’s the rules we play by or the way we recruit or whether you can have satellite camps or not, there should be an unbiased way somebody’s in charge of all that.”

Saban dropped that quote during a time when the sport was bickering about insignificant satellite camps. The COVID-19 pandemic has the potential to rock the sport and college athletics as we know it. Yet no league is in sync with one another. So now it has left everyone speculating on speculation.

Would hiring a Commissioner turn College Football into the NFL?

There’s an argument in pockets of the college football world that suggests hiring a commissioner in the sport would make college football just another version of the NFL. If you want to tell me college football isn’t similar to professional football already, you’re kidding yourself. Billions of dollars are involved with college football. Mountain West Conference commissioner Craig Thompson said in April that 85 percent of all revenue in college athletics comes from football. This isn’t some rinky-dink operation that’s being played for the purity of amateurism. It’s a big-time business with huge financial implications.

College Football is a year-round 365-day commitment for the coaches and athletes that participate in it and the money that goes to the head coaches in Power 5 conferences is on the level of pro sports. So to suggest that hiring a commissioner for college football would suddenly alter what we know as college football is silly. The sport is no longer regional, it’s a national spectacle that people from coast to coast indulge in from morning to night during Saturday’s in the fall.

People can romanticize college football in the past where it was all about playing for the school and your community. Those days are long gone.

College Football needs a “New Normal”

Right now, conference commissioners answer to the chancellors and presidents of the schools within their conference. There’s no one with the best interests of college football keeping everyone on the same page.

Having a commissioner that as Saban pointed out is not biased in how decisions can be made would be a positive for college football. Right now, it seems the SEC and Big Ten make their decisions as they see fit and everyone else kind of scrambles to figure out their own path. No one right now is looking out for the entire sport of college football, especially when you see conferences saying they could run their own seasons without other leagues.

The COVID-19 pandemic that has impacted everyone’s lives around the world has us yearning for a “new normal.” In college football, the new normal needs to consist of a commissioner overseeing the operation

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12-3 pm) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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More Than Ever Before College Football Needs A Commissioner