As a Ole Miss football fan I watched the college championship game and couldn’t help but think about the difficulty in breaking into the college playoffs.
Even though Ole Miss football was idle during the postseason I still had some observations. Of the total 16 slots in the 4 playoff series since inception, 4 schools have taken 11 of the slots. Only 5 other teams have been represented at all in the series. This out of the 60 major conference schools plus Notre Dame and other independents and smaller conference schools. It is time for some effort at parity in college football.
A natural advantage exists for the larger schools. The best high school players naturally want to go to the schools that make the playoffs. They also want to go where the media coverage is greater. However, this advantage is not good for college sports.
Rules That Promote Parity
Ole Miss Rebels Football
Some attempt at parity could lead to greater overall interest in the sport. This would only be good for college football. Georgia made its first appearance this year and this generated tremendous excitement throughout the state of Georgia.
I think it is safe to say that this type of excitement could be generated anywhere there are teams which make the playoffs. In some ways this contributed to making the championship game as well as the first round much more fun and interesting. Of course, a couple of other great games also helped.
Professional sports that recognize the need for competition have found many ways to mitigate similar problems. They have team salary caps, drafts that give teams with losing records access to franchise players, and franchise player designations.
In college football when it comes to recruiting players the schools with big successful programs are able to go out and recruit the better players (4 and 5 star players) at will as long as they recruit within the guidelines.
There are ways to mitigate this problem. Some kind of compensation for players would be a start. The discussion over this has been going on for a while. It really is time to go there. However, that really doesn’t address the parity issue.
Promoting A Competitive Climate
There could be ways that would be relatively easy to enforce that would make for a system that improves competitive climate. For example, requiring the rosters be representative of the rest of the student body make up in terms of geographic distribution of the school. The Alabama football team would be made up of athletes from the state of Alabama at something close to the make-up of the university student population. This would limit Alabama from dominating out-of-state 4 and 5 star recruits.
For example if 75% of the student population has permanent residence in Alabama, the make up of the football team should also be 75% from Alabama give or take some possibly 20%. This would still allow 40% (34 players of 85 scholarship players on a team roster) out-of-state participation. Alabama could still recruit heavily out-of-state but there would be some limitation on these players.
Quickly looking at the Alabama football roster it appears that probably less than 30% of the players are from the state of Alabama. It is difficult to know the percentage of scholarship players but it is like even less than 30%. Looking at their list of 2018 signees and hard commits, it appears that less than 30% call the state of Alabama their home.
Common Sense Restrictions
Not only would this be good for parity, it would likely be good for high school football players in Alabama. It also just makes sense. Shouldn’t the University of Alabama, or the University of Mississippi for that matter, be fairly representative of the state of Alabama or Mississippi. The University would be fielding football teams that represent their states.
I’m sure there would be resistance to this especially from fans of schools like Alabama, Clemson, and Ohio State. There could even be an argument that it could hurt the SEC. Many players from all over want to come to SEC schools to play. Any SEC school in many cases. Most SEC schools have heavy out-of-state participation just not quite to the level of Alabama. However, promoting parity would be good for all schools in the long run. There would still be plenty of opportunity for players to go to the larger programs and to SEC schools. There would just be common sense limitations on this.
This would also give the NCAA a true reason for existing. Overseeing some kind of parity and regulating the new easily enforceable compensation rules that will have to be put in place. It would allow the NCAA to get away from the role of enforcing outdated rules for the purpose of punishing particular programs. It would make the NCAA an organization a more streamlined organization responsible for promoting college sports.
This would not be a panacea for parity. Still, a quota system would promote parity and make the game more fun and interesting for the larger population. In the end that would be good for college sports.