Around College Football: June 26th
We’d be doing the updates a disservice by failing to lead off with the biggest news of the day, week and year for the sport. A college football playoff has arrived. Four teams chosen by a selection committee, six bowls — the four current BCS (Rose, Fiesta, Sugar, Orange) locales plus probables in the Cotton and Chick-Fil-A — rotating the semifinals, a national championship game bid out Super Bowl-style to a city, twelve years to worry about expanding and a century of common sense finally approved.
For reasons beyond my comprehension or perhaps because I’m a patient man, the official announcement of a playoff was met with plenty of confusing Twitter consternation about the number of teams involved. The backlash also included the default and frankly tiresome argument that players need to be paid. A $2,000 annual stipend was put on hold last December because of the salient point those blindly touting the pseudo-slavery of volunteer athletes miss. Title IX restrictions mean football players generating tens of millions for their athletic departments must be paid the same as female swimmers. Find a way to make that work, offer a solution not just a Stephen A. Smith-ism, and paying players immediately becomes a moot issue.
The stipends will happen, probably in the next calendar year but as college executives have shown for the duration of the existence of the sport, they don’t move fast. More than one hundred years passed before June 26, 2012. Four teams rather than two will play for the right to hoist a crystal football. That’s progress. It’s slow, it’s possibly inane but Jesus, the glacier is moving. Let’s not run right to an NFL playoff where 9-7 teams win the Super Bowl. The regular season in college football still matters. Interested parties commit fan suicide on a weekly basis because losing in September, like Oregon did against LSU last September, may ruin your chances at earning a title shot in January. And none of Dan Wetzel’s trumpeting of the Sun Belt for automatic inclusion will ever convince me that an expansive bracket makes sense.
In a rite of summer passage for college football coaches, suspending players for violations of team policy ranks right up there with telling bad jokes to boosters and praying 7-on-7 practices occur sans ACL tears. Texas A&M linebacker Steven Jenkins and defensive back Howard Matthews each earned one game siestas from new head coach Kevin Sumlin. Both started sparingly for the Aggies in 2011 and it seems likely they’d miss the opener against Louisiana Tech.
Hoping to impress those in charge of national championship sites, Orlando plans $175 million in renovations to the Citrus Bowl. At worst, the city gets a chance to show off the refurbished suites and club seats to people who look at stadiums for a living and can delineate between them. At best, it might provoke Steve Spurrier out of verbal hibernation and find a way to let him drop dimes like the ones he used to levy at Phil Fulmer. “You can’t spell Citrus without U-T.” The sport, nay the country, is going to miss the fun-and-gun pioneer when he’s gone and if Fate has a sense of humor, it will let the South Carolina orator play at least one meaningful game on the site he broiled Tennessee blood before he retires.
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