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NCAA Looking to Get Less and Also More Involved with the College Football Postseason

CBS Sports' Dennis Dodd has repoened the story that NCAA might be turning over governance of the bowls to the conferences. This is a development we looked at last October when the proposal to do so was first made public.

The only real power the NCAA would retain over bowls would be for the NCAA commissioner to personally approve or veto bowl game title sponsors. Dodd says that concern apparently is largely about the questionable advertising tactics of the Bowl's presenting sponsor. He has a couple of otherwise unspecified "I-A" and "college" sources who are chafing at the idea of the NCAA having that power, so that part may encounter some resistance.

In any event, reading between the lines of Dodd's reporting makes me think that one reason the NCAA wants to get out of bowl governance is because there will soon be fewer bowls. Back in January, we learned that there is "strong support" for raising the bar for bowl eligibility from six wins to seven. If that happens, seven or so bowls will no longer exist because there won't be enough eligible teams to participate in them.

Dodd mentions that in 2004, the Aloha Bowl sued the NCAA (and lost) over losing its license to operate. If seven more bowls are going to lose their right to exist, I highly doubt the NCAA wants to have to go through up to seven additional lawsuits.

The proposal for the NCAA to get out of the bowl licensing business came last October while the report about raising the bar for bowl eligibility came in January, so there's not a guarantee of causation here (depending on when the seven-win threshold first was discussed among the sport's power brokers). In fact, Dodd also mentions that the NCAA was uncomfortable with re-certifying the Fiesta Bowl after its scandal when members of the licensing committee were also partners with the bowl. That probably was more of the spark behind this move, but it sounds like the potential change to a seven-win requirement only boosted that process.

It's funny to hear that the NCAA is both interested in backing away from the football postseason while also getting more involved. An idea has been floated for the possible upcoming playoff is to have be run by an LLC created by the NCAA. The NCAA wouldn't necessarily be in control of everything, but it would represent a bigger presence for the organization than what currently exists in the football postseason (namely, bowl licensing and bowl licensing alone).

These developments show just how difficult it is to get everyone involved with college football all going in the same direction. There really is no one in charge. The NCAA governs some pieces (rules, officials, bowl licensing, investigations/sanctions), the conferences govern most of the rest (the BCS, conference scheduling, TV deals, additional rules on top of NCAA rules), and individual schools add in their own distinctiveness from there (drug policies and other individual discipline regimes, non-conference scheduling, ticket policies). There really is nothing else like it in sports, even among the rest of college athletics.