BMatt’s Monday musings
AUBURN | Big, consequential changes are coming to college football.
And I like them, a lot. But I have one more proposal.
The transfer portal is already here and a one-time, penalty-free transfer will likely be available to all players in all conferences this year. The ability for those players to make some extra cash through their name, image and likeness will likely be adopted by the NCAA in some form either this year or next.
And the biggest change, at least from a fan perspective, is probably closer to reality than many expect. Expansion of the College Football Playoff from the current four teams could come before the current contract ends in 2025, perhaps as early as the 2023 season.
A CFP working committee is already looking into a number of scenarios but an 8- or 12-team playoff seems the most likely with the Power 5 conferences getting an automatic bid for their champions and the Group of 5 getting a bid for their best team. The difference would be two or six at-large teams.
One of the most important reasons given for the changes, besides the windfall of T.V. money that would come with it, is the need to have a more diversified group of playoff teams and not the same three or four each year.
In seven playoffs since 2014, Alabama and Clemson have appeared six times, and Oklahoma and Ohio State four. Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State have won six of the seven titles with LSU winning it in its lone appearance in 2019.
Now, I’m not trying to knock their hustle. Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State have earned their success. They are better than everyone else because of their coaches, administrations and commitment to excellence. But I admit to being a little bored hearing about the same teams all season long and then watching them play like the whole system was preordained.
I’m not sure expanding the playoffs changes this, however. There's too much discrepancy between the best teams and the ones on the next tier to make an 8- or 12- team playoff truly competitive in most seasons. Those current powers would likely be heavy favorites hosting a first-round game at home and we’d end up with the same three or four teams in the final four all over again.
Of the 14 semifinal games, 10 have been decided by 17 or more points including four by more than 30. That’s not enough competitive, compelling games for what’s supposed to be the pinnacle of college football.
No, I’ve got a better idea. It’s time to decrease scholarships limits from 85 to 75. I don’t see a better way to spread out the talent that seems to be disproportionally concentrated at just a handful of schools.
I can remember the outcry from coaches when the scholarship numbers were reduced from 95 to 85 in the early 1990’s. They all thought the game would suffer, but it’s only gotten bigger, better and brought in much more money since.
College football programs could certainly survive and thrive with 75 scholarship players. NFL teams are allowed to carry 53 players on their roster with 12 practice squad players, which is 65 total.
College football teams, which will play five less regular season games than the NFL in 2021, would have 10 more roster spots plus walk-on programs. That’s plenty, and it’s less elite players that certain schools can hoard on their rosters.
And those 10 extra scholarships shouldn’t go to waste either. Divide them up among some of the sports that only give partial scholarships such as baseball, which give a paltry 11.7 to a roster of around 30 players. Men's track, softball or any other underfunded sports could certainly use a couple more scholarships to take some of the burden off student athletes.
In today’s musical journey, we go back 52 years to the day a french song that was reimagined in english brought one of the greatest musicians of the 20th Century back from the brink of retirement and became his biggest hit. On May 10, 1969, My Way by Frank Sinatra hit the UK Top 40 for the first of 75 weeks, which is the second-most of all time. In a worldwide poll of music producers and critics by Watch and Listen magazine in 2020, My Way was voted as the greatest song in the history of music. The song was nominated for the Best Contemporary-Pop Vocal Performance by a male at 1970 Grammy Awards, but lost out to Harry Nilsson’s Everybody’s Talkin’.
Francis Albert Sinatra, the only child of Italian immigrants, was born Dec. 12, 1915 in Hoboken, N.J. Sinatra idolized Bing Crosby growing up and would sometimes sing at his parent’s tavern. He was expelled from high school for “general rowdiness,” and worked as a newspaper delivery boy and riveter at a shipyard before getting his big break in 1935 when his mother persuaded the 3 Flashes to let her son join their group. Sinatra joined the Tommy Dorsey band in 1939 and recorded more than 40 songs in the first year including his first No. 1 hit, I’ll Never Smile Again in 1940. After splitting with Dorsey, Sinatra became a popular solo artist, appealing to teenage bobby soxers and starting what was called Sinatramania, much like the Beatles would do 20 years later. He became an artist in residence in Las Vegas in the early 1950 as part of the famous Rat Pack with Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. He starred in movies and T.V., earning an Academy Award for best supporting actor for his performance in From Here to Eternity in 1953. He had a number of big hits including Strangers in the Night, The Way You Look Tonight, Fly Me to the Moon, Come Fly With Me, and his final one, New York, New York in 1980. Also known as Ol’ Blue Eyes and Chairman of the Board, Sinatra was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Ronald Reagan in 1980, and won 11 total Grammys including a Lifetime Achievement Award. His over 150 million albums sold put him among the greatest-selling artists of al time.
After hearing the 1967 French song, Comme d’habitude, Paul Anka immediately flew to Paris and negotiated for the rights to the song. The french version is about a man living out the end of a boring marriage. After Sinatra told him during a dinner that he was “getting the hell out” of the music business, Anka re-wrote the song for Sinatra during a long night that ended at 5 a.m. Sinatra recorded the song in one take on Dec. 30, 1968 and it went on sell nearly 1 million copies. The song has been recorded by many other artists including Anka, Elvis, Aretha Franklin and even the Sex Pistols. Over time, Sinatra grew to dislike the song, telling his daughter that he thought it was, “self-indulgent.”