Chip Kelly’s plan could save college sports, and here’s why it will never happen

Chip Kelly's plan could save college sports, and here's why it will never happen
FILE - UCLA head coach Chip Kelly speaks during Pac-12 NCAA College Football Media Day on July 29, 2022.

UCLA head coach Chip Kelly speaks during Pac-12 media day in July 2022. Kelly came up with an idea to help save college football from its money-grubbing self, but it makes a lot of sense for the power brokers in the sport. (Damien Dovarganis/The Associated Press)

Kelly plan. It has a nice episode to it, but it’s never going to happen.

Idea by Chip Kelly On how to steer the college sports establishment away from losing its soul entirely—with top football schools being branded as independents and playing by their own rules, allowing the rest of the sports to be grouped together regionally as they once were—it simply also makes sense for college sports leaders to twirl. their heads.

It’s also not a new concept. In December 2020, in the wake of college football’s hopeless and desperate attempt to play a season during a global pandemic, Knight’s Committee The best way forward, he said, was to remove the Football Bowl Subdivision from the NCAA and allow a new entity to control the sport’s highest level of competition.

Read more: Tired of non-stop reorganizing? UCLA’s Chip Kelly may have the logical solution

The panel, made up of former college presidents and athletics administrators, saw the same thing Kelly did last week as the Pac-10. Suddenly became a Pac-4.

“I’m excited for Big Eighteen,” Kelly exclaimed Tuesday, referring to the Big Ten additions of Oregon and Washington.

It should be noted that the Knight Commission made its recommendation before The latest wave of reorganization.

Before Texas and Oklahoma left the Big 12 for the SEC.

Before the Big Ten responded by Taking USC and UCLA out of the Pac-12.

Before killing the West Coast power conference as we know it, the Big 12 added Colorado, Arizona, Arizona and Utah State after the Big Ten took out the Ducks and Huskies.

Before it was clear that West Coast non-professional sports athletes would be forced by their schools to play many road games in two or three time zones.

Kelly’s plan dealt mostly with travel issues on a practical level.

“Our sport is different from everyone else’s – we only play once a week,” Kelly said. “Travel is not a big deal for soccer, but it is a big deal for other sports. So that’s my theory.”

But the differences are much greater than just the demands of travel. College football has ballooned into a multi-billion dollar industry — and that’s just within one conference these days (the Big Ten’s new TV deal is worth more than $1 billion annually).

Georgia players, including Broderick Jones, Stetson Bennett and Payne Walker, celebrate at SoFi Stadium.
Georgia players, including (from left) Broderick Jones, Stetson Bennett and Payne Walker, celebrate the Bulldogs’ national title victory over Texas Christian at SoFi Stadium on Jan. 9. (Wally Scalig/Los Angeles Times)

Over time, the sport has achieved such value–second only to the NFL in our nation’s sports imagination–because of its queens, the hustle and bustle of rivalries and the win-or-lose regional bragging rights every Saturday. Ironically, these are among the unique traits that are now being discarded to maximize financial benefit that have arisen from the traditions of the past.

College football didn’t need it Michigan plays USC Or Oklahoma playing Florida in conference games to become popular. All I needed was for Purdue to always play Ohio State too hard for some reason, or Oregon State to put its usual terror in the Trojans. Not every team needed to be a clear draw in the national television ratings to deliver a great product, and the result was that fans of all schools remained passionately engaged with the sport as a whole.

An Oregon State fan was likely to watch the Oregon-Washington game because the Beavers were competing for the top prize with them.

now? Why do Oregon, Stanford, Washington, and Cal fans care who makes the college football game? Most won’t over time.

Read more: Oregon and Washington joining the Big Ten and the Pac-12 are in jeopardy. what happened after that?

That sense of belonging to the big time is what led Stanford and Cal to ask to join the ACC earlier this week. Yes, you read that right – Atlantic Coast Conference.

When I saw the report that there might be a common interest, I thought, “This is so nonsensical that it could very well happen.” This would be the opposite of my expectation with Kelly’s plan, which is that it makes a lot of sense considering it’s applicable in today’s college sports landscape.

Now controlled by Fox, ESPN and other network money chains, that’s how far college sports have progressed: if not for a few ACC schools that decided to Vote no on Cal and Stanford this weekthe Cardinals and the Golden Bear have been guiding “student-athletes” across the country just to be a part of the potentially next “power conference” to be torn apart.

The reason, for example, that Florida supposedly didn’t want Cal and Stanford in their conference wasn’t the absurdity of the premise. That was because the Seminoles were headed out of the ACC as soon as possible so they could hop on the big gravy train, too. (If a Big Ten school based in Tallahassee, Florida, shocks you, just remember that Fox would like to get the conference into the Florida market.)

Pac-12 logo on a grass field.

The Pac-12 could see itself eaten by the Mountain West in the coming months. (George Fry/Getty Images)

Florida State, like USC before it left the Pac-12, sees no reason to add less valuable schools to the conference it’s stuck in.

So Cal and Stanford are waiting now, along with Washington State and Oregon State. The Pac-4 could merge with or possibly eat the Mountain West. The Cardinals can become independent, and join their swaggering friend, Notre Dame.

Kelly’s plan could save the day. It was refreshing to hear someone inside the machine cut through the noise so clearly.

Was the NCAA listening? It certainly did little to heed the Knight Commission’s recommendation of nearly three years ago.

How about this: Instead of furious with lawmakers on Capitol Hill about controlling payments for the name, image, and likeness of players who bring in billions to schools, the NCAA could use Kelly’s plan as a basis for pushing for a bill that works toward preserving what distinguishes college sports. Hint: It doesn’t mean that players don’t get paid.

Read more: UCLA and USC will join the Big Ten in one year. This is their plan for the elite movement

To accomplish anything close to reform that gets to the heart of the issues, college sports will need bold leaders willing to dismantle the system they and their peers have been busy building for decades now. Yes, it sounds unbelievable, but it seems like no one is even trying. The end of this story doesn’t have to feel inevitable, like death’s slow, lonely march towards… what exactly? correct. more money.

There is no turning back now. It took a football coach offering a hopeful plan to show me that there was no more hope.

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This story originally appeared Los Angeles Times.

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