College football has turned into a scene from a playground in which kids are picking teams at recess. The ACC, Big 10, and the PAC-12 are on one side, and standing across from them is the SEC. The Big 12 is the scrawny uncoordinated kid that nobody wants to play with. And off to the side is Kirk Herbstreit, playing the role of the spoiled and naïve teacher that somehow believes that sports should always be a level playing field, in which every kid gets a fair shot. And to make that happen, the willfully naïve teacher suggests that the head priest from the Catholic high school from across the street – that’s eternally embroiled in scandals – should be the person in control of how games on the playground are governed.
This sounds like a bad idea, right?
Well, that’s what Herbstreit is suggesting by saying college football needs a CEO like “a Roger Goodell.”
“We need one voice in this sport,” Herbstreit recently said on an episode of ESPN’s Outside the Lines, while the Power 5 are in a power play for control against the NCAA as billions are involved. “We need a commissioner. We need a Roger Goodell that’s not worried about the SEC or the Big Ten, or the Pac-12, or what’s left of the Big 12 or the ACC. He’s worried about the entire country.”
Herbstreit is so concerned about the state of college football, that he’s been spreading his message every chance he gets.
“Can you imagine Roger Goodell if he were the commissioner of the NFC South, and that was it?” Herbstreit told Zach Klein of WSB-TV in Atlanta. “Right now we have five Roger Goodells. Everybody is worried about their backyard, which I understand, but I think for us to really make progress we’re gonna have to get to one voice.”
This is one of those situations where someone says something profound in theory, but once you start thinking about how to actually implement it, you quickly realize that it isn’t feasible. For instance, having one person in control of college football would be hard to do when 13 people serve on the College Football Playoff selection committee that decides which four teams get the opportunity to play for a national championship each season. And before that, when we did have a sole entity – the BCS – that decided the annual championship game, people got upset with it and wanted change because they felt like the computer system that made the decisions was missing a human element.
“I love MAC football, but to put them in the BCS is an absolute joke to the rest of those teams that are more deserving,” Herbstreit said in 2012 when Northern Illinois – a team outside of the Power 5 – was selected as an at-large bid to play in the 2013 Orange Bowl. “I can’t believe we’re even having this discussion.”
However, that’s not what any of this is about. Because as usual, at the core of this is money. This is why it’s so laughable that Herbstreit is being naïve – once again – about the motivating factors that have led college football conferences to expand and align.
“It’s all about money. It’s no longer about tradition,” Herbstreit said earlier this summer as if that’s not what big-time college sports have solely been about for the last 30 years.
Here are what each conference in the Power 5 brought in for total revenue for fiscal 2019:
· Big 12: $439 million
· ACC: $455.4 million
· SEC: $721 million
· PAC-12: $530.4 million
· Big 10: $781.5 million
That’s a lot of money, right? And guess what? Goodell runs a league that makes those profits look like chump change. The NFL’s revenue was $12 billion last season, despite a global pandemic, after the league pulled in $16 billion in 2019.
For someone that has issues with this being “all about money,” it’s laughable that he would want someone in the mode of Goodell — who would have experience with a sport that’s even more consumed with money — to be in control of college football. And that’s before we get to all that drama the NFL commissioner is constantly involved with, which includes serious matters like race norming, violence against women, sports betting, racism and social issues, faux patriotism, union disputes, and greedy owners — which would be similar to school presidents and conference commissioners.
There are only a few things that Roger Goodell has ever proven that he’s good at, and that list includes making his bosses (NFL owners) lots of money, lying, and being inept at handling crises. And when you look at it that way, it’s clear that implementing a commissioner of Goodell’s standards for college football would be a lateral move at best, and an epic failure at worst.
But, it’s not like we should have ever expected a better idea from Kirk Herbstreit, as this is the same man that told white people “we gotta do better,” because he thinks that’s the cure for racism.