Should college football expand its season to 12 games?
A couple of weeks ago, in a meeting of the nation's athletic directors in Kansas City, the idea of adding a 12th game to the college football schedule was discussed.The reason for adding an extra game to the schedule is basically a financial one - an extra game could give needed revenue to beleaguered athletic programs around the country.
A non-binding straw vote taken at the meeting revealed about a 50-50 split. The issue will be explored further at the next NCAA meeting in January.
What do the athletic directors and coaches at Utah's three major colleges (the proposal would only affect the 104 Division I-A programs) think about the new proposal?
It turns out none of the athletic directors voted the same on the issue. Utah State's Rod Tueller voted in favor of it, Utah's Chris Hill voted against it, while BYU's Glen Tuckett abstained.
"I'm an advocate of it, but not a strong advocate of it," said Tueller. "I favor it as long as they don't extend the season."
Tueller sees a couple of advantages for Utah State. The Aggies could either play another early-season non-conference game in Logan or add another big-money road game which could add as much as $300,000 to the athletic coffers.
Tueller would only favor it if the 12-game schedule was limited to a 14-week period.
Both Tuckett and Hill were wary of the proposal because of the effect it might have on fellow WAC member Hawaii. Under the present system, any team that plays in Hawaii is allowed to add an extra game to its 11-game schedule. That's to encourage teams to take the time and money to fly to the islands to play.
But Tuckett and Hill are afraid that Hawaii could be hurt by the proposal since teams would be less inclined to go to Hawaii when they could stay on the mainland and come out better financially.
"We need to be a team player in this," said Hill. "My guess is that it would be tough on Hawaii. And if they decide we (teams that go to Hawaii) could play 13 games, I think that might be too many games."
If the Hawaii problem could be resolved somehow, then Hill said he might be in favor of the proposal.
"If we could get another $250,000 every other year to play somehwere like Wisconsin, it could fund an entire sport," said Hill.
Tuckett was a little more non-committal.
"I've thought a lot about it, but I haven't got an opinion about it," said Tuckett. "I want to see how it affects Hawaii before I decide."
Tuckett said he finds it ironic that some of the same people who are against the idea of a college playoff system, because it makes the season too long, are the proponents of a 12th game.
"I keep hearing we're playing too much," said Tuckett. "And now they want to add a 12th game."
As for the coaches, BYU's LaVell Edwards and Utah's Jim Fassel pretty much agreed with the athletic directors, while USU's Chuck Shelton takes an oposing view.
"I don't know what it would do for anybody," said Shelton. "It seems like it is putting a Band-aid on a budget control problem. I'd say at this time we don't need a 12th game."
Edwards said, "We play 12 games a year anyway, and 12 games is plenty. I would be opposed to it because of what it might do to Hawaii and our conference."
Edwards certainly doesn't want to see the season lengthened. For three of the past four seasons, his team has had the longest regular season of any team in the country, thanks to rescheduling of games for early September and into early December, mostly because of TV.
"I'd like to see them keep some parameters for the length of the season (like Sept. 1 to Nov. 30)," he said.
Utah's Jim Fassel agreed, saying, "I would favor a 12-game season as long as they would limit the number of weeks you play. The way it's going now, with everybody moving games for TV, pretty soon the season will go from August to January 1st."
One of the biggest proponents of the 12-game season is Arkansas athletic director Frank Broyles. He made a good point when he told the Fort Worth Star- Telegram, "Adding another game doesn't lengthen the season. It just means that the 12th game takes the place of an open date on the schedule."
If you look at the schedules of Division I-A football teams you'll see that most schools have at least one open date on their schedule.
Open dates are nice if they happen to fall on a week when a team has a lot of injuries, but talk to most coaches and they'll tell you they'd just as soon be playing on Saturday.
Texas Christian University's Frank Windegger thinks it's just a matter of time before the 12th game is added.
"The 12th game probably won't be approved next year, but it will come to pass sooner or later . . . Those sources of revenue are out there, and we have to tap them."