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Mike Sorensen: College football can be improved

Published: Monday, Sept. 14 2009 12:00 a.m. MDT

I enjoy college football. I prefer it to pro football and believe it might be the best sport going, even better than NASCAR, MMA and curling.

Still, there are a lot of ways college football could be improved besides the obvious idea of eliminating the whole BCS mess, which may not happen in our lifetimes, unfortunately.

 Play all non-conference games in the first month of the season.

I know this may not be entirely possible because of the various sizes of conferences, but it would be nice to have all the non-league games early and play the league games in October and November, similar to college basketball, which plays most league games after December. Why have key conference games, such as Miami-Florida State and Georgia-South Carolina, right out of the chutes? By the same token, let's eliminate late-season non-conference matchups. I see where Illinois is playing non-league games against Cincinnati and Fresno State on Nov. 27 and Dec. 5, long after their final Big Ten game on Nov. 14. What's up with that?

 Allow just one game against a lower-division school every two years.

I realize that some years Utah has to play Weber State or BYU must play Northern Iowa. But there's no reason a school like Florida should be playing The Citadel and Charleston Southern in back-to-back years. The only disadvantage to this idea is that it would keep lower-division schools from getting as many of those large paychecks that help their athletic programs.

 Teams must win seven games to be bowl eligible.

Enough of these 6-6 teams going to bowl games every year. I know some leagues have a rule about 6-6 teams not going at the expense of 7-5 teams, but still, no one should be able to finish with a losing record and say they went to a bowl game. Oh, but we won't be able to fill up all of the available bowls, you say? Read on.

 Reduce number of bowls to about 25.

Right now there are 34 bowl games, but do we really need a bowl for the eighth-place team from the ACC or even the fifth-place from the MWC? The bowls in Boise and Albuquerque would probably be eliminated, but they shouldn't have bowls in the first place. Let's go back to the old days of holding bowl games only in warm-weather places. Let's make a rule that if it never gets above 70 degrees in the winter, you can't have a bowl game in that city.

 Cut major-college football scholarships to 75.

Right now they are at 85, having been reduced from 95 over a decade ago. Many coaches would kick and scream if this was implemented, but it would accomplish a couple of things.

First, it would even the landscape even more for non-BCS schools, who could get a few more of the elite players and keep them from sitting on the bench at the bigger schools. Also, it would help out other men's sports, providing 10 more scholarships for minor sports that have been shrinking for the past couple of decades. Coaches claim they couldn't get by with 10 fewer scholarships, but they could still have their 100-plus player teams. They would just have to rely on more walk-ons for their third string.

 Tweak the BCS with a plus-one system.

I know this idea has been bandied about before and is much more likely to be implemented than a playoff system. MWC fans would want to keep five BCS bowls to give the league access to the big games, so another bowl would have to get "promoted" to BCS status to take the place of the current championship game.

After the five BCS bowl games were played on or near New Year's, the national championship game could be played 10 days later. That would allow enough time to promote the game and for the teams to prepare, and we wouldn't have the concern of a team in the title game not playing for seven weeks before the big game — as has happened recently.

It's not a perfect solution, and there still would be the problem of somebody being left out. But at least it would give the unbeaten Utahs and Boise States of recent years a better chance to play for the title.

e-mail: sor@desnews.com

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