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Mavs’ Owner Cuban Wants A Football Playoff… We Tell You Why It Won’t Happen

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban wants what most of you want — a college football playoff.  I do, too.  But unlike you and me, Cuban has millions of dollars to play with.  And he’s ready to toss some of that cash behind a playoff system.

“I’m actively pursuing it, but it’s only in the exploratory stage,” Cuban told The Dallas Morning News.

According to ESPNDallas.com, Cuban claims to have “talked to two athletic directors from BCS conferences who were extremely enthusiastic about the idea.”  Of course, it could be a case of those ADs just being nice to the eccentric millionaire.  Sort of like LA Rams officials with Warren Beatty’s Joe Farnsworth character in “Heaven Can Wait.”

Cuban wants to talk to a few school presidents and state senators before deciding whether or not to further pursue the plan.

“Cuban said he envisions either a 12- or 16-team playoff field with the higher seeds getting homefield advantage.  The homefield advantage, Cuban said, would ensure the college football regular-season would not lose any importance.  The bowl games could still exist under Cuban’s plan, but he said he would make it more profitable for programs to make the playoffs than a bowl.”

Cuban said, “Put $500 million in the bank and go to all the schools and pay them money as an option.  Say, ‘Look, I’m going to give you X amount every five years.  In exchange, you say if you’re picked for the playoff system, you’ll go.’”

Sounds nice.  But it won’t happen.

There are simply too many obstacles to overcome for someone to set-up and fund a 12- to 16-team playoff right out of the gate.  If a playoff comes, it will eventually come in the form of a “plus-one” game that will create a pair of semifinals and one finals.

Two years ago, we spoke with one of the nation’s top sports marketing gurus — Bill Schmidt, former VP of Worldwide Marketing for Gatorade — about what it would take to create a playoff.  In fact, we came up with our own serious, detailed plan for a playoff.  (Not one of those “just use 15 bowl games” cocktail napkin-type plans, either.)  But no matter how we played with the variables, there was always one too many negatives to overcome.

For those who haven’t seen our plan — and want to know exactly why a playoff won’t workclick here. (And remember this was written two years ago, before conference expansion and the forced dismantling of the Big 12 Championship Game. )

The biggest hurdle to a playoff is this — BCS conferences control the bulk of bowl money in the current system.  That insures that they’ll also continue to be the biggest powers in the college football world.

If a playoff is created — like the NCAA basketball tournament, for example — the NCAA would have to sanction the event.  And the revenue from such an event would be spread evenly among the NCAA’s schools.  Utah State’s cut (even if it doesn’t reach the playoff) would be close to that of Alabama.  Now why would Alabama, for example, go along with that?

Even if Alabama’s overall revenue went up, Utah State’s revenue would go up exponentially.  Bye-bye monetary advantage.  Bye-bye power.  Won’t happen.

Under Cuban’s plan, would he pay every FBS program an “if you’re picked you’ll join us” fee… or just the big boy schools?  If just the big boy schools, expect lawsuits and harrumphing politicians.  If everyone, then we’re right back to the haves allowing the have-nots to catch up.  Result?  Won’t happen.

I’m glad to see someone pushing a serious idea for a playoff.  I’d love to see one.  But it isn’t going to happen anytime soon.

 




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