Should Only Conference Champions Play for the Title?

General Sports, NCAA

Should only conference champions qualify for the College Football Playoff?

Since its early beginnings, college football has thrived upon the aspect of regional competition. The schools in their respective regions would form a conference and compete against one another, ultimately crowning the champion of the region “Conference Champions.” Following those regional championships, various polls (Associated Press and Coaches’ Poll, etc.) would rank the national champion; but, there would be no doubt who was the best locally.

Winning the region mattered more than winning nationally most of the time. Longhorn fans mainly wanted to beat Texas A&M and Oklahoma every year (and vice versa), enthusiastically placing non-conference and sub-par conference teams in the losing column. Just imagine how Alabama fans in the SEC (Roll Tide!) measure the Crimson Tide’s success rate, such as basing a “successful” season on if they beat Auburn or LSU. College football is serious, but conference play is even more serious.

With the conference title, your team earns bragging rights for the rest of the year…which is wayyyy more important than a national championship, right? Or, it used to be.

Well, the trend of NCAA National Champions has been very consistent in catering to SEC dominance. In the past 10 years, 9 of those championships have featured a school from the SEC (Southeastern Conference). I’m focusing on this conference because its conference champion (and even runner-up) has almost always been represented in the national championship.

This is why conference play has been so important to college fans, players, and coaches. Win the conference and you have a better shot at vying for the #1 or #2 spot. As for those 3rd place finishers, their consolation prize may be the toughest pill to swallow (playing for 3rd place)…especially those who may finish the season undefeated.

Will the College Football Playoff provide the necessary solution for the issue of “conference favoritism”?

The College Football Playoff has established a selection committee who pick the best teams fit for competition, which means the AP Top 25 Poll and USA Today Coaches Poll mean absolutely nothing.

All we can do is hope the selection committee will bring integrity and a non-bias culture to the college football postseason. Of course, this 13-member committee includes people with ties to different schools but they will not be able to vote for their respective schools in order to remove any bias.

This can be a step in the right direction for college football. Even though four teams will be selected by the committee, there will always be a team who gets the short end of the stick (5th place finisher).

Issues in the NFL: Lack of Developmental League

Ever since the disbandment of NFL Europe in 2007, the NFL has been without a mid-level training system after college for aspiring professional football players.

With the influx of NFL-ready college athletes, there seems to be little need for a football developmental league (minor league, for example). However, the NFL can greatly benefit from establishing an official developmental league such as the Minors (MiLB) and NBA-DL (NBA Developmental League).

To begin, an NFL developmental system would allow aspiring major-league players to hone their skills in an environment that more closely resembles the style of play in the NFL (in comparison to the CFL and other football leagues).

The CFL (Canadian Football League) and AFL (Arena Football League) produce a number of players who earn their opportunity in the NFL; but due to a different style of play and a variety of rules in their respective leagues, this can be a difficult transition in the NFL.

More importantly, a developmental league can serve as the testing grounds for the NFL to implement new rule changes, train officiating crews (and even offer year-round employment), as well as increase the pool of experienced coaches.

In doing so, this could lead to a better organized league in which:

– New rules are thoroughly examined before being mandated without any rebuttal (lessening the power of the NFL Commissioner)

– Referees will be able to have increased job security and fully understand the rules prior to the season, instead of “understanding after the event occurs”

– Experienced coaches will most likely enhance the competitiveness of the game, leading to a level playing field in both conferences (NFC and AFC)

The Romo-Era Cowboys Will Never Win the Lombardi Trophy

Dallas Cowboys, NFL

Ever since the “Romo-era” Cowboys have taken the field, the expectations of this franchise – once known as “America’s Team” (this should be up for debate) – have continually been lowered after every disappointing season.

For the past three years, we have dealt with injuries, an inconsistent running game, and the sad reality of being just an average football team – finishing up the past three seasons with an 8-8 record.

I hate to say it, but the Dallas Cowboys do not scream “World Champions!” and if you’ve been led to keep believing in the Cowboys to be a championship-contender… well, you are certainly in denial, my friend.

Now, let’s begin to list the Three Reasons Why the Romo-era Cowboys Will Never Win the Lombardi Trophy.

Reason #1: Jerry Jones needs to be involved in business matters ONLY.

Serving as the Owner, General Manager, and President (NFL Front Office position descriptions) does not allow adequate room for accountability and improvement in the Dallas Cowboys franchise at all levels. Jones’ three-headed monster of power merges front office and player/personnel matters, which really affects on-the-field play.

Jones is a business-savvy individual. He has ushered in the AT&T Stadium to serve as a premier venue of the biggest entertainment events you can think of: concerts, boxing matches, NFL Super Bowl, WWE, NBA All-Star Weekend, etc. You name it, I’m sure Jerry Jones has done it (or is about to do it).

The man is about $$$. Period.

So, it would serve the Cowboys a great deal for Jones to be the best business-man he can be; and, in time, release his tight grip on the area of player/personnel development.

Reason #2: The Dallas Cowboys’ defense has more holes than Swiss cheese.

There’s speculation that Rob Ryan was a great asset for the Cowboys’ defense. Another argument claims that Ryan did not improve anything in Dallas, except for his eating habits. NFL defensive statistics from the ’11/’12 and ’12/’13 seasons show the Cowboys defense ranking in at 19th and 14th, respectively. However, if you examine the numbers of both seasons compared to the 2010 season, you can be the judge of whether Ryan improved the defense or not.

But the issue still remains: this defense needs help, bad. Really bad.

As most sports fans know (or should know), DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS. Take last year’s Super Bowl, for example (43-8 ouch; Seattle’s defense proved themselves).

With the latest draft picks acquired through the 2014 NFL Draft, maybe there is hope of developing a championship-caliber defense. I guess we will have to wait and see.

Reason #3: Tony Romo is our best chance at winning the Super Bowl.

Yes, you’ve read correctly. Tony Romo is the best chance for the Cowboys to reach a title.

On paper: This is awesome!

In reality: Welp, time to get ready for basketball season.

Tony Romo is above average. He gives you the stats: passing yards, passing touchdowns, and even a decent QBR (Quarterback Rating). The main component Romo is not giving the Cowboys is: winning. Of course, winning is a team effort; but, when the commander of your offense (in addition to sub-par defense) is not getting the job done, we have no choice but to continually be just an average team.

So, who is there to blame for all of the Cowboys’ shortcomings?

Reason number one (see above for Reason #1).

Of course, he would most likely be the scapegoat. When you consider who hires the coaches, signs the players, oversees the operations of the franchise, and goes to sleep feeling as if everything is fine… Jerry Jones is the one guy that can pull it off.

Until he fires himself (sounds crazy) or the Cowboys can grab a guy like Jameis Winston (Cam Newton, but better) and have a top-10 defense, the Cowboys will continue to follow this downward trend.

SN: Seriously, I want Jameis Winston on the Cowboys roster. Let’s just hope Dallas has a free crab leg buffet for Winston.