While Emmert rules March Madness with an iron fist, he has allowed TV networks and other corporations to stand in the way of even a rational discussion of reform.
College football has grown too big for its britches, that much is evident. As the buck on post-season reform is passed from one splintered group of rich white men to another, there is at least hope we will have some sort of reform when we kickoff the 2014 season. Whether it will be real reform or some half-baked half-measure remains to be seen. Regardless, I think this debacle has shown college football needs to be streamlined at the administration level.
Is the Big 10 a conference, or is it its own league playing its own brand of a sport? The play-ground level saber rattling going on over something as clean cut as a 4-team playoff makes me think it's the latter.
Roger Goodell runs the NFL. David Stern runs the NBA. Bud Selig runs the MLB. Professional leagues to be sure, but it's not as if the NCAA doesn't overlord over March Madness in the same manner. Yet, when it comes to college football -- the elite teams of amateurs, the only brand making money -- who runs it? Since the NCAA doesn't officially crown a champion in division one football, are people like Mike Slive and Larry Scott anything more than two kids squabbling over a pie at an elementary school lunch table?
Without the leadership, corporate money will continue to seep its way into college football. This is how nothing ever changes, because NCAA football is run by a group of guys with nothing more than a regional or semi-national interest in the game. The splintered culture stands in the way of logic, to the point we're inventing phrases like "plus-one", instead of calling it what it actually is: a four team playoff.
Regionalism was one of the bigger obstacles our nation had to overcome. There was a time people considered themselves more Pennsylvanians than Americans. Hell, America's mid-life crisis was the Civil War. Obviously, it is hoped college football's transition isn't as ugly or bloody as the United States government's, but the need to overcome regionalism is the same.
I think there needs to be a commissioner of sorts appointed to over-see college football. Maybe there will be when these new-look conferences secede from the NCAA, but there needs to be someone whose job isn't to stuff as much money into their respective conference's pockets, but the over-all welfare of the sport and those who play it.
Until then, ESPN and other media outlets will continue to exploit these conferences; divide and conquer, it's literally one of the oldest hustles in the book. I think all of these conferences have shown enough disdain for the own traditions when they erected the BCS, so it's time these conferences -- aka the people who are supposed to be the smartest people involved in college football -- to put down their differences and figure out how to stream-line college football's oversight. That way, when it comes time to expand the playoff field from four to eight teams, we will all be spared of rich white men banging their testicles on the table until they're all red in the face.