COVID-19 Provides Perfect Excuse To Improve College Football

Jul 25, 2020, 8:40 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 – College football is going to be weird this year with conference-only schedules, leagues canceling seasons, the Pac-12 starting mid-September, Notre Dame might be joining the ACC for this year, BYU trying to rebuild its schedule, and probably another half a dozen scenarios that have not even come up despite the season being scheduled to start in five weeks.

Now is the time to get weird and create a better college football experience for fans and players.

Fox Sports’ and the host of The Herd, Colin Cowherd, made his opinion known about changes he would like to see. His list included limiting the bowl season, no more neutral site games, 10 conference games, and keep the College Football Playoff as is.

He also said no more independents, which means BYU would need to get into a conference, and for Cougar fans’ sake, a Power 5 league.

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Time To Get Rid Of Neutral Site Games

KSL’s Unrivaled hosts Alex Kirry and Scott Mitchell have their own way to make college football a better sport. They said that now is the perfect time to make a change and if it allows for the sport to be played with more games or a somewhat traditional season, people will be behind it.

The first adjustment would not a pandemic related change but something that should be limited going forward. That is playing college football games in NFL stadiums, something that BYU did often when Bronco Mendenhall was head coach of the Cougars.

The rationale against playing in pro stadiums is that it would be better to play in a full stadium of fans, either home or on the road.

“This was a big selling point for Bronco Mendenhall and I think [BYU athletics director] Tom Holmoe has had this obsession with playing in NFL venues,” Kirry said. “I never got why. They always talk about, ‘oh, they’re playing in an NFL venue because that really helps with recruiting.’ I’m like, what recruit goes, ‘I want to play in a half-empty NRG Stadium down in Houston.’ I don’t get the draw to that. So I love the no neutral site idea.”

Mitchell agrees with the notion of not playing at NFL stadiums. The one thing he likes about these neutral site games is because they are always big-time matchups. However, his argument is that wouldn’t it be much better to have a top-10 game on a college campus. This season, Oregon and Ohio State were slated to play at Autzen Stadium before the game was canceled. USC vs. Alabama in Tuscaloosa or the Colosseum in Los Angeles would also be amazing.

“What I thought was great were the matchups,” Mitchell said.” That’s the thing that was really exciting to me, and then I thought, boy, they would be so much more exciting if they were at the site of whatever school when Utah played Michigan in Jim Harbaugh’s first game and it was in Salt Lake City. And I was there and it was just a fantastic atmosphere and having that at your own stadium.

“With college football, it is the atmosphere and that’s what it is, so being able to create the best atmosphere opportunities as you can.”

Playing between games at Death Valley, the swaying of Kyle Field during the entire game, Wisconsin fans doing “Jump Around” and all of the great traditions at home campuses is what college football needs. Playing in a sterile and usually not as full NFL stadium strips away what college football is all about.

Expand College Football Playoff In 2020

2020 is a year with exceptions to the rule. One of the biggest changes that college football should do is to make the postseason matter and expand the College Football Playoff. With non-conference games being cut left and right, it will be harder to pick the four best teams. So, why not increase the pool of teams into a playoff and make the other bowl games mean more this year?

“You are not cutting out bowl games if you have a playoff system and use 12,” Mitchell said. “I am hugely in favor of having bowl games, but having bowl games with meaning. The only way they mean something is to add them in the playoffs.

“I love the idea of that and doing it this year. If there is a way for people to get excited about college football. Give us something at the end of the season and throw us a bone. Do something different and see what happens, if it doesn’t work out, it is the pandemic year and move on.”

Major League Baseball expanded its playoff the day the season began this year to 16 teams, so why can’t college football do something similar and add include conference champions and a few at-large teams for an exciting postseason.

If there is any time to make a rule change it is now and put the blame on the coronavirus for the reason why college football should be changing its season format. It is already happening now at the conference level, it just needs to happen on a broader scale and start with an expanded playoff.

Tune into KSL Unrivaled every Monday through Friday, 7-9 p.m., or download the KSL NewsRadio app to subscribe to the podcast

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COVID-19 Provides Perfect Excuse To Improve College Football