Starting the Process – College Football Playoffs

Again, I want to be very clear to everyone. This is going to be a long, long and difficult and expensive process. There is a lot of power on the side of the incumbents. Which of course , as anyone who really knows me will tell you, is exactly the type of challenge I like to undertake. I may not win all of them, but there is quite a bit of satisfaction in taking on Goliath. This undertaking is no different. Win or lose (and i hate to lose) , it will be worth the journey.

I wanted to post the first update here on my blog, but going forward I will post them on facebook on this page. Why ? Because when people “like” the page I can communicate with them in the future. I don’t have a direct means of communicating from the blog. I can only “broadcast” my thoughts.  The Facebook page allows me to post, respond to user posts and allows others to post their thoughts as well. Plus, I can pop the HDNet name and logo in there and get a shameless plug in for our network.

So on the the first order of business – our first roadblock.

Believe it or not among the hundreds of emails I got from everyone from those of you with playoff plans, to lobbying firms to Athletic Directors of major schools to those looking to volunteer to help to alums volunteering with withhold or donate more to help the cause, I also received this :

“Dear Mr. Cuban:

My advise is, don’t waste your money.  There are three perfected alternatives to the BCS.  I own one, a guy with CBS owns another
and a guy in Arizona owns the third.  By that, I don’t mean the screw-ball ideas you see on the internet, but actual branded
properties.

I am represented by a major law firm in Washington D.C., as are other stake holders.  The problems are insurmountable
and too many to delineate here

****Im leaving out some of his comments on why he thinks the playoffs wont work in order to get to the important stuff ******

*** Here is the “meat” of his email:

You should also consider that the playoffs are already owned by someone, as in, the patent for resolving the FBS championship by  way of a playoff was issued long ago.  It’s called a method patent, so be careful not to infringe it.

Anyway, if you want to know who owns assets in this field, let me know.  I can put you in touch with one of my attorneys who can let you know what you’re in for.  It’s much more complex that it’s commonly understood to be.

>>>> Regards,

There you have it. In this great country of ours some one thinks they can patent a solution to this problem. Mind you, they aren’t saying they can do anything about it. They are not saying they even tried. Nor are they saying they are going to try to solve this problem and invest time and money. They are merely saying that they got the patent office to approve their idea and if anyone  wants to try to solve this problem they have to go through them and their high powered patent attorneys.

The President of the United States wants a playoff system, and so does almost every college football fan, but forgettaboutit because there is a method patent on it.

This obviously is a symptom of a much bigger problem in this country where people who have no intention of solving a problem or building a business but want to get paid by those that do,  leverage the courts as patent trolls in order to extort money. If you talk to anyone in the technology industry they will tell you that Patent Trolls are creating far more cost and uncertainty in doing business than any tax code could ever.

Maybe this effort to create a playoff system for college football can also solve a huge problem that is hampering the economy and adding to the unemployment rate as companies keep money in the bank to fight patent trolls and pay ever increasing insurance rates instead of hiring people. Am I sure this is happening ? Absolutely because we are facing the same issue in two of my companies. We continuously get sued by various patent trolls and spend money on lawyers and insurance rather than hiring new people or giving raises. And I hate it.

Sorry to get off on a tangent and back on my soapbox, but getting this email really hit a nerve and it gives me even more motivation !

Keep the emails coming.  If you know of any Conference Commissioners or personnel, college football coaches, any university Athletic Directors, Asst ADs, University or College Presidents, major donors or any other stakeholders, encourage them to email me as well. I am in the information gathering and learning stage and want as much information and feedback as I can get.  The challenge is not what the playoffs might look like. The challenge is what are the parameters or incentives that would make  each conference and/or school  gladly become part of a playoff system.

The best one I have heard so far  ? A Student Experience Fund for the Southeastern Conference. Not a scholarship fund, but a Student Experience Fund. Someone suggested that I put up $50mm dollars to be made available to current SEC students in the amount of up to $3,000 for them to use on unique projects sponsored and endorsed by a professor. It can be anything that the professor feels enhances the overall education of the student. It is a one time grant. A student can not receive more than one.  It can not be used for tuition, room or board. How many such grants are given out in any given year would be left to the discretion of the Schools in the Conference. As would the allocation among schools. I’m fine with the Commissioner of the SEC running the fund.

Why the SEC ? For obvious reasons. But it was also suggested that this offer also be made to a second conference on a first come first serve basis.

What does everyone think about the idea ? What ideas do you have that create a unique and compelling educational opportunity for students that can be tied to a playoff system ?

44 thoughts on “Starting the Process – College Football Playoffs

  1. Mark,
    I just sent an email with the perfect scenario.
    It is titled, MARK CUBAN: BEATING THE BCS with the CPS.
    Thanks
    Greg

    Comment by gregrosar -

  2. I find, mw0786 has made a very good proposal. If every university student gave 1$ in the USA, the problem would be solved with certainty. It is for the single student not a lot of money, but it would reach a very big sum and impress some great companies maybe also in such a way that they make a big gift.

    Comment by leodruck -

  3. Pingback: Mark Cuban vs. BCS - CycloneFanatic

  4. Pingback: Mark Cuban Starts His Pursuit Of A College Playoff System | Saturday Down South

  5. Dear Mr. Cuban,

    My name is Christian Martin. We met briefly at a Union Square talk last winter in New York City.

    I oversee Broadband for AETN Digital – where I am a Vice President for Development and Production. Before that I headed up the integration of iVillage into NBC Universal when NBC purchased that company and before that I was a network news and sports producer for NBC News and NBC Olympics (where I worked with Dick Ebersol, Jim Bell and Jeff Zucker).

    I hope you are serious about taking on that challenge. I also hope that you would consider me for a position if you are putting together a team.

    Simply put the current system is horribly broken. What we get is a slew of completely meaningless bowl games, a regular season that is anti-climactic for all but a handful of teams and more questions than answers – year after year – over who is the best team.

    I don’t think anyone would argue that the NCAA Basketball Tournament is a great event. The National Champion in basketball is the National Champion – no asterisk, no qualifying statements. And what is more thrilling than watching Cinderella teams like George Mason or Butler make it to the Final Four?

    Here is how I believe you/we could vastly improve the current bowl set up.

    Create a 48 team elimination tournament.

    The highest seeded 16 teams (BCS, coaches poll, writers poll, whomever) would get a first round bye. The remaining 32 teams would play a first round game at the higher seeded team’s home stadium. The winner of those games would advance to a game vs. the teams who got a bye and play at their home stadium.

    The winner of those games would then play yet another home game at the higher seeded team’s home stadium.

    Now we are down to the final 8 teams (7 games left to determine a National Champion).

    These 7 games would be played a pre-determined sites so tickets could be sold years in advance. If we wanted to curry favor with the existing Bowls we could call these by the Bowl’s names (Orange, Rose, Fiesta, Sugar, etc)

    The entire event would take 6 weeks to play out – seven if you took a week off before the championship game. If the regular season ended the last weekend in November (as it already does for most of the Big 10 teams) the season wouldn’t stretch any longer than it currently does.

    Who are the teams, what would it look like this year? All of the conference and division champions (Florida State and Virginia Tech from the ACC, Nebraska and Oklahoma from the Big 12, Connecticut from the Big East, Ohio State from the Big 10, UCF and SMU from Conference USA, Miami (Ohio) and N. Illinois from the MAC, TCU from the Mountain West, Oregon from The Pac 10, Auburn and S. Carolina from the SEC, Florida International from the Sun Belt and Nevada from the WAC.) That is 16 teams – all of who would get at least a first round home game.

    The remaining 32 teams would be picked from the highest ranked at large teams. Those teams might look like this: Stanford,Wisconsin, Arkansas, Michigan State, BoiseState, LSU, Missouri, Oklahoma State,Alabama, Texas A&M, Utah, Mississippi State, West Virginia, Hawaii, Maryland,Tulsa, Navy, San Diego State, Pittsburg,Fresno State, Iowa, NC State, Air Force, Navy, Army, Notre Dame, Arizona, BostonCollege, USF, Penn State, Michigan, Florida,Georgia.

    Because we know the college presidents, power conferences and networks won’t want a change that takes money out of their pockets look at how many teams each of the traditional BCS conferences would put into this elimination tournament.

    ACC – 5 teams: FSU, VT, Maryland, NC State and Boston College

    Big East – 4 teams: UConn, WVU, Pitt and SFU

    Big 12 – 6 teams: Nebraska, Oklahoma, Missouri, K State, OSU, Texas A&M

    Big Ten – 6 teams: OSU, Wisconsin, MSU, Iowa, Penn State, Michigan

    Pac Ten – 4 teams: Oregon, Stanford, Washington, Arizona (USC would have made it but is barred from bowl eligibility).

    SEC – 8 teams: Auburn, S. Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Arkansas, LSU, Alabama, MissState.

    Assuming all of those teams played on average two games – all (with the exception of Pac Ten and their USC sanctions) would have more bowl games and substantially more revenue than they do under the current system. The benefit for universities playing home games would be even greater than any bowl payout as they’d be pocketing parking, concessions, etc. The cost of the bowl games would go down dramatically as 40 of the bowl games would only have one team traveling.

    The television dollars (and ticket prices) for all of these games would be dramatically higher – or do you think people really care about this weekend’s BYU-UTEP bowl game – because the match-ups would be so compelling. Imagine that SMU gets a first round home game and the University ofMichigan has to play there. What if theUniversity of Florida has to travel up toBoise,Idaho to play on the blue turf deep into December in a snow storm?

    This set up creates the opportunity for Cinderella stories – let’s say TCU really is the best team and goes all the way – greater geographic interest (all the games won’t just be played in warm weather stadiums) and presumably an enormous TV package – in HD on HDNet?

    The last Olympics rights package went for $2.2 billion (winter and summer) with wacky time zones and sports no one cares about. Forty-eight college football teams playing elimination bowl games in prime time – every single year – would easily surpass that number.

    Benefits:

    This would be more money for everyone. An undisputed National Champion. The College Football season wouldn’t drag on longer than it already does – save but a handful of teams – and it would make the regular season incredibly meaningful – everyone would be playing for an at-large bid or the chance to be spoiler.

    The only real cost to the mega-conferences is those that had a championship game would probably have to sacrifice that – but the money from this would far out weigh that loss.

    The minor conferences would in some respect lose out – certainly Conference USA would be sending less teams to bowl games – but the bowl games they did send their teams to (or host) would be so much richer in significance, prestige and pay-out.

    Anyway this idea has been a passion project of mine for some time. I do a lot of business development in my current job and know quite a few players at NBC/Comcast, Disney, CBS and FOX.

    As crazy as this may sound I believe getting a play-off system to work for college football would be a great life’s work.

    I can be reached atChristianm.martin@gmail.com. I would love to talk more to you about this idea. What’s more I would drp everything to work on a project like this.

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    Best,

    Christian Martin

    Comment by cmastrangelom -

  6. You, the President, and about 99.7% of the other commenters here should start worrying about something important instead of something as trivial as college football. Direct your energies at some true problems instead of this fluff.

    Comment by longrifle3006 -

  7. Pingback: Will Patents Make NCAA Football Playoffs Impossible? | JetLib News

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  9. I support your effort .I agree with your playoffs analysis too.

    Comment by bookworm -

  10. Patents are way overrated unless the product is extremely technical. Don’t waste time on patents that you can be using to build your business. Too many people worry about patents when they should be worrying about other stuff.

    Comment by josephwesley -

  11. When it comes to patents, there are trolls on both sides. Some people have ideas and protect them legally, but do not have the financial resources to implement solutions alone. There are venture capital trolls, too. They are not interested in changing the world or solving problems, but are out to make a quick buck. If the entrepreneur gets screwed, oh well. They see a patent not as a solution to a problem, but as a potential cash flow over time. The entrepreneur may end up spending money on lawyers to protect a patent from infringement when they would also rather be hiring people and building a business. Sorry about your annoyance with the patent trolls, but I think it is still better to be rich.

    Comment by Openivo -

  12. I agree with your playoffs analysis. I’m a 3L at UNH School of Law and have researched the patents that are “abstract ideas,” and not patent-eligible. I’d love to help research how this relates to the college football process patent.

    Comment by trentathon -

  13. This a good intention, the presidents and the chancellors is to be told what they make with her system wrong. But how should they really come to the perfection, if we make to them no better proposals with which they can improve her system? Nobody is perfect, but with suggestions and ideas one can reach a lot. One must have only the courage to formulate this. And a team can be.

    Comment by dmccologne -

  14. Great ideas. I think it would have spread a whole lot faster if you weren’t trying to pump your own company on the facebook page. That doomed the little campaign on facebook before you even started. It makes this whole thing only look self serving. I hope you pull it off somehow though, college football’s fans would be much happier

    Comment by jumpbug -

  15. Oversigning is not just an SEC issue. One Div 1 basketball program has signed or received commitments from 8 kids for next year, and they only have 3 SR’s..ummm

    The student experience fund is a great idea. Paul Feinbaum always has Dan Wetzel on his show, it might be a good idea to try to bounce something like this off of him.

    Comment by bdrichardson -

  16. Here’s how a college playoff system can work AND keep everyone happy:

    1. Start with an eight-team playoff. Sixteen would be nice, but eight is better than none. Sixteen teams would mean three extra games for the teams that play in the championship (compared to the current bowl system). Apparently ADs aren’t excited about any extra games for student athletes, and eight teams cuts the season down by one game. SOLUTION: Provides the minimum number of games for a legitimate playoff system.

    2. Use the current BCS ranking system to pick the eight playoff teams. All the big wigs in college football seem to love the BCS, so let them keep it. If it wasn’t for the fact that only two teams get to play for the championship, the BCS works well at ranking teams. With the top eight teams getting in, any undefeated team like TCU would get there rightful chance to play for the national championship. That’s all they can ask for. If you’re not in the top eight, there’s always next year. A line has to be drawn somewhere. It’s just not fair if it’s drawn for only two teams. SOLUTION: Keeps the current BCS system intact.

    3. Keep the current bowl system and continue to call this the Bowl Championship Series. In this case it would actually be a series (what a thought!). By doing this, you wouldn’t get rid of the bowl system that generates so much revenue for college football. People can still go to the Cotton bowl or whatever bowl, and college football programs don’t lose their revenue share from bowl games. So everyone keeps playing in bowls, and the first round of the Bowl Championship series is just part of the first round of bowl games. It just happens that they will have two more rounds. The second round would be the semi-final bowls, and the final game would be the Champions Bowl. SOLUTION: Keeps the current bowl system intact and makes the BCS an actual bowl series.

    So like I said, this keeps everyone happy. People that want bowls get to keep them; people that like the BCS get to keep it; and people that want a playoff get that as well.

    As far as what to do with the $500 million that you’re thinking about contributing, I would like to see it somehow given to support the college football players that are earning all of the money for athletic departments across the country. They work their tails off with not that much to show for it. It could be set up as a scholarship fund for former athletes. In other words, athletes that run out of eligibility but don’t have a degree yet can apply for a scholarship from the BCS scholarship fund. This makes the money academically useful but also keeps it sports oriented. It would be a good PR boost for college athletics and the BCS. They could emphasize the fact that they are carrying out such a goodwill effort.

    Mark, what do you think? Any good thoughts here?

    Comment by josephwesley -

  17. Why just attack the play-offs? Instead of trying to reform a huge, slow and unresponsive 100 year old non-profit organization, just create a new one.

    Basically, create the an entirely new and independent league. In this league, players are paid their market wage and they do not have to attend classes (but they can if they want to). The players represent their schools as professional athletes, have to be between 18-24 and are similar to a pro-sports team. It would basically be a professional sports team that represents a community, similar to any other team in the US.

    Does it really make sense to force athletes to attend courses if they really are not interested?

    While you are at it, can you take over FIFA as well?

    Comment by cblguy -

  18. College football I know nothing about. I like your ideas though. High priced lawyers could be tough.

    At this time I have been shawshanked. I will tell you the story. I was playing poker regularly for a week. That night I made a grand at 3 locations. In the early morning a cop seen me walking in the parking lot at Sobeys and said. What are you doing. I just bought groceries. I had my Ipod in my ears and was listening to a tune outside my car. The cops came and said, “why are you tampering with vehicles.” I told the officer I wasn’t. He said, “If I want to trump up charges against you I can.” He gave me 8 tickets. Then towed my car. I was depressed with the system.
    Who will they believe a cop or me? “I swear to god I tampered with no vehicles.”
    Then my parents called the tow place to get my car out and they said you have 4 weeks to get it. I was just a couple days past my third week so I got the car. Little did they tell my parents they through out all of the contents of the car after 3 weeks. I had everything in my life in that explorer. So they stole everything gold silver chains I had hidden, Iphone, video camera, tools computer.
    When I talked to the guy that ran the place and said “I can sue.”
    He said, good luck.”
    So what do I do? I don’t have the money for lawyers. A crooked cop and a bunch of thieves at the towing agency and I have to start again.
    I lost all my posessions computer, everything. I was sleepin out my car too make money at the casino.
    Now I see how crooked some parts of society is. I need another chance Mr.Cuban to follow the system in the stock market. You can have mostly all the winnings.
    I just want another chance. 10 years earlier was my first email too you. I was raving about the gold and silver markets. This time I will follow the rules.

    Mark W Farwell

    Comment by whitewoody77 -

  19. My plan is imperfect, to be sure.

    But IMO there is NO way to start a playoff without accepting that (a) the current bowl structure cannot be thrown under the bus, (b) that the Big Ten and Pac-10 likely won’t any decade soon agree to entirely blow up their Rose Bowl pact, and (c) that there is likely no way to make two consecutive weekends of neutral-site playoff college football games financially feasible, even in January.

    My plan, below, ENHANCES the bowl structure, rather than undermines it. Indeed, the current BCS structure, and its immediate antecedent — the mid-’90s “bowl alliance” — actually has hurt the bowls AND college football. That is because since 1998, the national-championship-deciding bowl game is not played on New Year’s Day – the day of the most captive audience that college football ever has had, or will have.

    Thus, my plan:

    — Eight teams. Six BCS conference champs, plus two at-larges. The BCS conferences won’t go for ANY plan in which their respective champions are excluded. Thus, an NCAA Football Committee — set up along the lines of the basketball tournament committee — will select the two at-large teams, be they BCS conference runners-up, independents or champions of other leagues.

    — On January 1 each year, three of the four quarter-finals are held, and played in traditional big bowls, sequentially: Sugar Bowl at 1:30 pm, Rose Bowl at 5 pm, Orange at 8:30 pm. The fourth, the Fiesta Bowl, can be played either the next night, Jan 2, or some years maybe the day or night before, Dec 31. This plan would make, like in the old days, for compelling all-day viewing on New Year’s Day. College football would again rule the airwaves that day, probably prompting other networks to stop bothering with their gimmick sports programming (eg, outdoor NHL games on NBC, etc) that only undermined the bowls and college football.

    — Lock-ins. Again, unavoidable if you want to get any form of playoff off the ground. The Pac-10 and Big Ten want their champs to always play in the Rose Bowl, and this is a huge obstacle to getting any playoff off the ground. OK, give it to them. But, to give other of the oldest, biggest, most powerful conferences a chance at playing a slightly lesser opponent, perhaps, give lock-ins to the SEC, Big 12 and ACC. So, the Pac-10 and Big Ten champs always play in the Rose (the biggest but unavoidable compromise), the Big 12 champ always plays in the Fiesta, ACC champ always plays in the Orange, and SEC champ always plays in the Sugar. The two at-larges and the Big East champ get slotted into the latter three games by the selection committee (a la hoops), which will try to make those matchups as fair as possible, especially to the highest-ranked teams (ie, you won’t be pairing #1 vs #2 in a quarter-final). (As an aside, perhaps there is a conference ‘relegation’ feature to all this, a la Premier League in English soccer, whereby if the Big East is truly lame one year, the next year maybe it drops out of the BCS and is replaced for a year by the WAC or Conf USA, etc. Something to be explored, at any rate, which would go a long way toward mollifying the non-BCS conferences.)

    — My wrinkle is that the semi-finals would be played the next weekend in January that is at least seven days after Jan. 1 (Jan 8-14ish). ASAP after the Orange Bowl on Jan 1, the selection committee would RANK the four New Year’s Day survivors, and #4 plays AT #1, and #3 plays AT #2. No neutral-site games, because you can’t sell out a football stadium on less than a week’s notice in a neutral site; won’t happen. But homefield games would absolutely be SURE to sell out. Would be especially intriguing when northern schools (eg, Big Ten) play host to such a game in January, a la Green Bay Packers home playoff games in January. Wouldn’t it be fun to see these warm-weather college teams have to play an important game in the snow for a change, just as warm-weather NFL teams often do? Instead of a Michigan always playing a Florida in Florida on January 1, wouldn’t it be fair, for once, to see Florida playing Michigan in Michigan in January? As to the money — ie, how to share the gate? — it must be shared in whichever manner makes this work.

    — The next weekend — or even two weekends later, a la Super Bowl two-week layoff — you play the championship game, at one of the four big-bowl sites, like now, in a four-year rotation.

    In 2009, then, you would have had the following possible matchups, with locked-in teams in caps:

    ROSE: OHIO STATE vs OREGON
    FIESTA: TEXAS vs Texas Christian
    SUGAR: ALABAMA vs Cincinnati
    ORANGE: GEORGIA TECH vs Florida

    In 2010, you probably would have these matchups:

    ROSE: WISCONSIN vs OREGON
    FIESTA: OKLAHOMA vs TCU
    SUGAR: AUBURN vs Connecticut
    ORANGE: VIRGINIA TECH vs Stanford

    Presuming Oregon, Oklahoma, Auburn and Stanford won, the re-rankings would bring these semi-final matchups:

    #4 Oklahoma @ #1 Oregon
    #3 Stanford @ #2 Auburn

    Think those games wouldn’t sell out in an hour?!

    I realize the lock-ins create a lot of controversy, and the potential for uneven quarter-finals. But it’s a way to keep the bowls and conferences happy, without which, FORGET IT. Is it fair that the multiple-loss Big Ten and Pac-10 champs play each other, rather than against an undefeated team in a bowl other than the Rose? No, but there’s no getting around this hurdle if you want a playoff, period. Besides, most years your undefeated TCUs and Cincinnatis and Boise States aren’t going to be much if any better than a multiple-loss Big Ten or Pac-10 champ, right?

    In 2009, you’d have likely got as Jan 1-2 winners: Alabama, Texas, Florida, Ohio State. So, semifinal matchups on Saturday Jan 9 would have been:
    #4 Ohio State @ #1 Alabama
    #3 Florida @ #2 Texas

    Think Bama and Texas wouldn’t have sold out their stadiums in 10 minutes for those games? Of course they would have.

    Then the winners would have played for it all either on Monday night Jan 18, or Sunday Jan 24 at night, after the NFL playoff games.

    An important factor in this plan is the revitalization of New Year’s Day football watching. One of my best friends is now hooked on going to a couple of Michigan home games a year, in addition to holding season tickets for Toronto Argos and Hamilton Ticats of CFL and Buffalo Bills of NFL. He’s a huge football fan but a casual follower of US college ball. And for the life of him, he cannot understand why the sport voluntarily released its monopoly and total grip on New Year’s Day — one of the most attentive TV viewership days on the sporting calendar.

    He speaks:

    “Now it’s all watered down on New Year’s Day, mostly with bowl games that mean nothing, except to fans of both teams and the title sponsor,” he says. “Don’t they realize what they had on New Year’s Day? I loved those years when every game mattered to determine a national champion. You’d start out watching the Cotton Bowl or Sugar Bowl, and if there was an upset in either game involving a national-championship player, then you had to watch the Rose Bowl, and then the Orange Bowl to figure out who would be champion. Now, the biggest game isn’t even on New Year’s Day, and seemingly every game is Georgia Tech against Clemson.”

    He’s right. I became a fan in the mid-’70s. The year #1 OSU lost in the Rose Bowl to UCLA, Oklahoma in the very next game suddenly had its chance for a national championship at night in the Orange Bowl. Two years after that, #5 ND upset #1 Texas in the Cotton Bowl, opening the door for #4 Michigan in the Rose Bowl and, later, #2 Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl. Both lost, paving the way for #5 ND to leap all the way to #1 in the final polls.

    Point is, it was ALL-DAY drama on New Year’s Day — the likes of which we haven’t seen since the early ’90s.

    My plan would bring that back. And more. Indeed, not only would it not harm the current bowl structure, it would actually ENTRENCH and ENHANCE it. It would make all four big bowl games even more important, because they’d all help determine the national champion. Not every four years. But every year.

    So there it is.

    Comment by johnkryk -

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  21. pennvard,

    I realize it is up to the NCAA and individual conferences to end oversigning. But until it is ended, more money poured into the game will only exacerbate the gross injustices this shady practice requires.

    These major institutions, many funded by taxpayer dollars, are already making obscene amounts of money off the labor of often impoverished kids playing at basically no expense to the universities and a huge risk to the players’ own health.

    I am a huge college football fan like many others. But as much as I want what excites and entertains me, I have to acknowledge that these are ultimately academic institutions and basically unpaid players. This is an antiquated system that has grown into something financially much larger than it was ever intended to be. So we now have a quasi-socialist system of large state institutions operating a multi-billion dollar, high-margin industry off the backs of often poor kids engaged in a brutal sport. This isn’t the NFL where crippling injuries and lasting brain damage at least results in millions of dollars for the athletes.

    Comment by texasdawg -

  22. Thanks for the reply, and will do. :-) Admit it might be a tough sell here, at least this year (it is AU), and I’m pretty low on the totem pole, but will do what I can and keep my ears open. Yeah, if you somehow set it up as a totally separate 3rd party billing system, that could be a way around it. There are a lot of neat things that it could be used for– for kids using their enrichment experience stipends, they tend to opt for study abroad programs, unpaid interships, and undergraduate research (probably in that order). Internships of some sort might be most easily tied directly to the new system… has to be something they can do that would be fun and educational, and it looks good on the resume too. Of course, still might not be able to go to student athletes (I’m not sure there, but the NCAA regs are a nightmare, I’m glad I don’t deal with them directly) but there are so many kids who could benefit, and I know lots of them are interested in things like that.

    Comment by bucfanpaka -

  23. The guy who is advising the you that “the patent for resolving the FBS championship by way of a playoff was issued long ago” is giving you bad advice. Examine the patents yourself:

    http://www.google.com/patents?tbs=bks%3A1&tbo=1&q=football+championship+playoff+college&btnG=Search+Patents

    The point is that a very *specific* (and stupid) method is being patented, but the concept of having a playoff certainly existed in the public domain before the filing of these patents (which seem to have been filed only in the last few years). So you can’t be blocked from having a playoff by any of these patents, only in doing it by using their exact formula, that is what was patented.

    The ideas and strategy you have proposed so far will fail, because you are essentially playing the game of the entrenched interests and you will lose that game. They have the money pipeline and connections and relationships.

    So how do you do it? Stick your neck out and do it. Don’t go to them, have them come to you. Set up a College National Championship and take that $50million dollars(or whatever) and give it to the winning college (and/or conference). Maybe the first year the 69th “best’ team in the country will win it, but so what, they showed up and won and that makes them the champion because champions show up and aren’t afraid. The first year you might risk being laughed at, but the second year, a college will see who won the previous year and say, we could have beat them and could use the that $50million dollars and will send their team, so then the 11th best team wins that year. And so on. And eventually through greed, pride, and fan pressure everyone will want in. You just have to be committed to doing this for a few years while people laugh at you and verbally tear you down. I could talk about strategies to co-opt the conferences and other networks, but that is the core idea. Trademark a brand, put up the chunk of money and *do it* next year.
    The people want it, they are on your side.

    Some quotes from Gandhi to inspire you:
    “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
    “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
    “You may never know what results come of your action, but if you do nothing there will be no result”
    “Nobody can hurt me without my permission.”

    Best, Michael

    Comment by michaelcbyrne -

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  25. Mr. Cuban, I believe I have a better idea. I was going to attempt to contact you after the holidays. I have had this idea for about six months and you were the first person I thought of that could make it happen. I only need five minutes of your time. I live in Little Rock, Arkansas so I could be in Dallas in a few hours. I am not a nut case and I have never attempted to do anything like this before. I hope to hear from you soon.

    Comment by keiserhog -

  26. Money is made to circulate…
    If you want to pay for something…go
    what is the problem?

    Comment by predictiidirecte -

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  28. I don’t think the SEC is the only one guilty of that. Any system is going to make these schools money. The BCS nor a Playoff System can stop that practice. That is under the government formed NCAA (Teddy Roosevelt).

    The NCAA would have to be pressured and they are not part of the BCS or any playoff plans set forth for Div.-I.

    But it is good that you are pointing out the practice. But don’t think Mark Cuban or anyone else can influence that practice. Just the NCAA.

    Comment by pennvard -

  29. Mark,

    Before you start handing money to SEC programs, you might want to work on getting rid of the disgusting practice of oversigning that the SEC West schools engage in:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oversigning#Southeastern_Conference

    http://oversigning.com

    If the goal here is a greater level of justice in college football, then the last thing the SEC needs is more money going into its football programs. That may give fans a more “just” system of determining the college football champion… but it will almost surely increase the great level of injustice several SEC programs are currently perpetrating upon unsuspecting – often impoverished and African-American – high school kids.

    Comment by texasdawg -

  30. I just ask that you don’t turn this into a 4-6 conferences automatically getting all of the money and playoff spots. That is why I hate the BCS – there is NO fairness in the system currently. Something a bit more balanced please!

    Comment by dfnsports -

  31. I absolutely love the Student Experience Fund idea. Only possible problems with this could be technical, on it not being allowed to go to other charges– I work in the scholarship office at a major university, and even though we actually have scholarships with enrichment experience stipends included, and things like technology allowances, truth of it is everything gets lumped together on the bill as a credit and will automatically go first towards any outstanding charges on the bill at the time it hits (tuition, dorm, fines, football tickets, you name it). No workarounds on it I know of; external scholarship donors can’t specify exactly what their money can go to since it all just goes together to offset any charges. Granted other schools may handle things differently but could be an issue if the guidelines were that strict.

    Right idea though, I firmly believe that– definitely the way to get this through will be to light a fire from below. I was personally thinking more along the lines of a traditional scholarship endowment myself, I admit (I‘m biased from my work experiences… too many kids who just need help with the massive bills), but this is unique and very appealing. Tuition keeps going up, while the economy is still hurting so badly and so many are still losing jobs, and hearing both students and their parents in tears because they simply can’t afford it and are seeking any possible help is a pretty frequent thing for me. I’ve never gotten used to it, either. And I really believe these parents and students are more than motivated enough to put the pressure on for anything that could be of benefit for them like this. Sell it directly to them, with this and the other bonuses that could come along with the system, how it will help THEM personally and not the bigwigs, and from there will come the drive and power to break through the apathy and other walls up above. In the end, they are the real customers, and it is all about recruiting and retaining them.

    Anyways, the students I work with are really an amazing group of people, and any benefits to them are what would make me personally put aside any lingering reservations about it, had I any.

    From MC> it is because the money for scholarships goes into a university controlled fund as you mention that I wanted to do something differently. There is no reason why I couldnt set up a company that administered it on all levels. If you have any ideas, please let me know. And talk to people at your school and tell them to push it up to the highest levels !

    Comment by bucfanpaka -

  32. Everyone should read the SI Article on this that came out a month or so ago. It really is a seedy business, the BCS.

    Comment by pennvard -

  33. The main reason we need a playoff is most of the players have and still want it. (consistently 60-70% in polls; and probably would be higher if they understood the bowls wouldn’t disappear.)

    I played in the Ivy League and hated that we couldn’t participate in the I-AA playoffs back when I played.

    It is about being a competitor and being denied. Denied so some Old Boyz Network can rake in the money… The Universities often don’t even make as much as you would think. It really is the Bowl organizers cleaning up… But don’t let some player get caught taking 100 bucks from a booster. They will run him out of college football and damage their dreams for the NFL. But the Old Boyz Network make millions off their sweat and don’t even let them settle a championship truly on the field. It is just disrespectful and counter to the nature of competition.

    Comment by pennvard -

  34. throw not through…

    Comment by pennvard -

  35. I have been commenting and stating my support for a playoff in major college football for over a decade. I always felt a big problem/ hurdle was that no one with a public voice could help us (fans and players) be heard.

    Thank you Mr. Cuban. This has been insulting how everyone has been ignored for decades on this topic. A handful of powerful interests have a strangle hold on the monster cash cow that they have created for themselves. So they won’t give it up unless forced to in some way. Because they know there will be a redistribution of the big TV dollars.

    I think two big assists can be developed… How? I am not sure.

    1) The Fans need a more public visible voice. For years most have vented on websites and blogs… But the powers that be don’t care because their “product” is like water to us. We are going to drink it. We just wish it tasted a heck of a lot better. And they have all the control. So, public disapproval, visible, annual, basically bed press revealing they are ignoring the wishes of the fans and players… Would help. Harder for them to through their rhetoric (lies) around.

    2) A number of Universities that are not the usual title contenders and for that matter the smaller conferences have expressed an interest in change… But they appear to pull back when offered more access to bowls or threatened with greater restriction… I have no clear example just a feeling from previous statements by conference heads and university presidents… So is there a way to get them on board with an idea that removes them from under the thumb of the “Big Boys” and the BCS? If there was they may become more vocal with their openness to a playoff component to the post season.

    Comment by pennvard -

  36. Get the online donation campaign going now. There are tons of websites where you can not only setup the main campaign but people could setup sub campaigns to raise more money themselves. Your money obviously goes a long way but there is also a power in numbers. If everyone who wants a playoff system donated $5 to a “scholarship fund” for a certain conference that would be a ton of money going to a great cause.

    From MC> I dont want to be the one to set that up. And it has to be a system where the money can be returned if the project doesnt come to fruition. But if you can get it rolling, this becomes more of a grass roots effort. The more grass roots, the better !. Thanks !

    Comment by joemak26 -

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  38. Hey Mark,

    With the amount of cash you and your partners could offer a university, why wouldn’t it be feasible to have the top six or eight teams decline bowl bids in the first year and play the “mini tourney” in a neutral sight. This would crush the alliance and bring the bowl dictators to their knees. I know it’s a lot more technical than that but I know they can’t force a team to play. If this were to occur, the NCAA would have a secondary championship, similar to the NIT or just use the bowl games they have. Good luck; I hope you crush and destroy their communistic empire!

    Comment by mrzonk -

  39. I honestly don’t understand why college football needs a playoff system. I have been a big fan of college football since the 70s. The bowl system is insane and dumb and opaque but isn’t the fact that it is unique something we can celebrate? Is the only reason to scrap the current system because once every 5 years we end up with a national championship controversy? Seems like a small price to pay for the maintaining a decades old tradition. If there are other reasons I would like to hear them. If thats the only reason then apply your drive and talents to more important problems.

    Great Blog.

    Comment by steveray00 -

  40. Mark, I and thousands of others would love to help. Aside from growing the # of fans on your Facebook page (happy to throw in a couple thousand for ya), what can we do to help?

    From MC> Take the initiative in any way you can. THe more grass roots this is, the better. Whether its creating a scholarship fund for Playoff sc hools (make sure it can be returned in case it doesnt happen), or calling on donors, whatever you can think of that can have impact. Post it here, Post it on FB. Add value where you can !

    Comment by Mike Nierengarten -

  41. Excellent idea, will you be looking for help? Is there a way for us to get involved? Just let me know… I have been a AZ Cardinals fan since 2004, so I love rooting for the underdog.

    Randy “The Shoe”

    Comment by rshoemaker78 -

  42. Excellent idea! Thank you for putting your resources into understanding how to get a playoff for NCAA football. I want to help. I’m an educated college football fan that is disgusted by the apparent corruption in the NCAA. How can we get involved?

    Comment by hoitomt -

  43. So far over 90% of the votes at http://enoughBCS.com have been for playoffs. It’s clear that is what that fans want. We will support you in every way we can, and will do our best to help make it happen.

    Be sure to go show your support at http://enoughBCS.com – let’s make this happen!

    Comment by jerlevine -

  44. I support your effort 100%. I have wanted a playoff system in college football for YEARS!!! Please continue on this journey and fix the system that no one else seems to be able (or cares) to fix!

    Comment by dpegram -

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