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12th Game All about the Cash

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NCAA's 12th game is all about money


By John Clay


John ClayThe NCAA says that despite all evidence to the contrary, it is not a hypocritical body of governance interested only in money.

So the NCAA stands on its high moral ground and says it could never, ever approve anything so dreadfully abhorrent as a playoff system for Division I-A college football.

Too many games. Not fair to the student-athlete. Too many missed classes. The NCAA says a lot of things.

Says here do not judge the NCAA by its words, judge it by its actions.

Thanks to the NCAA, this year begins college football's arranged marriage with the 12-game season.

Back in the dark ages, it used to be a 10-game college season. Then the number grew to 11. A couple of years back, citing a quirk in the calendar, the boys up in Indy approved a 12th game for Division I-A teams, saying that because the moon and the stars so rarely align in such a fashion, the move was only temporary.

No one believed it, and rightfully so. No sooner had the institutions of higher learning deposited the extra gate receipts than the NCAA approved the idea of a permanent extra contest, citing the need to help increase revenue for schools that can't seem to balance their bank book.

Never mind that the vast majority of college football coaches were against the idea. Michigan Coach Lloyd Carr told the Orlando Sentinel he was against a playoff system, "but I'm for a playoff if we are going to play more games anyway."

Never mind that a 12th game only increases the chances for injuries, lessens the time for injuries to heal, and eliminates one off-week break for players to catch up on academics.

The 12th game means dollars. And athletics directors, with their escalating salaries, who have signed coaches to escalating contracts, need the extra dough.

You don't make extra dough by playing on the road. Kentucky has used the extra contest to schedule a seventh home game. Arkansas, Alabama, LSU, Auburn and Georgia each have eight home games on their schedules.

The ADs argue that one benefit of the extra game is that it allows schools to schedule I-AA opponents, who can use the guaranteed payouts to pay bills back home.

Eastern Kentucky opens at Cincinnati. Western Kentucky travels to Georgia. UK welcomes EKU to Lexington for its 2007 season opener.

But the NCAA also lessens the restrictions on how many I-AA victories a team can use to become bowl eligible. It used to be one every four years. Now it's one each year. And while the number of games has increased to 12, the number of wins required to become bowl eligible remains at six. And no I-A school is going to play at a I-AA school.

There have been a few winners in this new charade. Kudos to the Pac 10, which used the extra-game opportunity to add a ninth conference game. Every member will play every member during the season. No ducking. Kudos to schools such as Louisville, which instead of filling its basket with cupcakes, plays host to Miami (of Florida) and travels to Kansas State.

"The season will not be elongated," argued NCAA president Myles Brand when the rule was passed, "it just means the bye week will be taken out."

So there is room enough for a 12th game for the regular season, but not room enough for extra playoff games instead of, or in addition to, a bowl season.

Now who would say that's hypocritical?


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"Now who would say that's hypocritical?"



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