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COLUMNISTS

Opinion: Here's how to bring parity to college football | Walters

Tim Walters
Florida Today
Notre Dame made it into the playoffs despite a bad loss to Clemson in the ACC title game.

I’ve never been one to complain about something without presenting some sort of solution.

Thus, I’m here, like so many others have in recent days, to complain about the playoff system in college football. I'm also here to present a solution.

When the teams vying for the championship seem predetermined and when a governing body with direct financial interests in college football are the ones picking the final four teams, then there’s a problem.

There’s a problem when a major conference amends its rules mid-week to get Ohio State into its conference title game.

There’s a problem when we’ve only seen 11 teams in the final four over the seven years this College Football Playoff system has existed. We’ve seen Clemson and Alabama 6 out of 7 times, Ohio State and Oklahoma four, Notre Dame twice, and Oregon, FSU, Michigan State, Washington, Georgia and LSU once each.

Clemson will play in the College Football Playoff for the sixth times in seven years of the playoff's existence.

Sorry UCF, Cincinnati and Texas A&M, you’re not allowed in this club.

You can argue with me all day long if Notre Dame or Texas A&M should have made it in this year, but the decision comes down to more than which team is better or more deserving. It comes down to which team will bring more eyeballs to the television. Which in turn generates more revenue.

Notre Dame's national brand is much stronger than Texas A&M's.

So, my fix comes strictly from a fan’s perspective. I know a lot of the establishment won’t like this idea, which makes me think I’m onto something.

I’ve seen solutions this week including: making Power 5 conferences play more games against other conferences and reducing in-conference schedules; adding more playoff teams; going back to the BCS and letting the computers sort out a final four. Only two teams were selected in the BCS era.

My solution goes back further than that in the process.

I propose that starting in December of 2021, we only allow college football programs to sign a set number of four-and-five-star recruits.

Think like the NFL. They have parity because of a salary cap. Since we don't pay college football players, we put a cap on the number of really good recruits a program can sign.

The reason Alabama and Clemson are always so good is because they get the best players.

How do they get the best players? That’s a question for another column.

But imagine the improved parity it could create, thus giving more teams the possibility of making it into the playoffs.

There is an average of roughly 30 five-star recruits per year. I say each program can have two.

There's usually around 250-300 four-star recruits. Each program can sign 10.

See how it works?

Alabama has reached its quota, so kids have to choose other places. Now you’d see Clemson, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Oklahoma fill up quickly on their four and five-star recruits.

All of a sudden, players start to see greener pastures. Why go freeze in Michigan when I can play in Tampa? San Diego has amazing temperatures. Let’s see what the Hawaii campus has to offer.

You’d start to see programs considered lower tiers almost overnight become contenders because they are culling better talent.

Of course, players already on the teams are grandfathered in, so it might take three or four years for programs to even out a bit.

Now I know there will be some pitfalls. Certain programs may get better transfer players.

And I’m sure some college coaches will have sway over the star ratings of high schools they want.

Fans of the established programs will cry socialism on this idea (even though, like I said, it exists in the NFL).

Don't like it, fine? We can agree to disagree.

To me, it makes sense to try something out of the box that might better level the playing field.

We need to change something because as long as we continue down this path, college football will only get more boring and predictable.

Let’s get serious about making this thing better, not only for the fans, but for all the student-athletes out there breaking their bodies for this game we all love.

Either that, or we’ll all just have to become Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State fans. And we don't want that, do we?

Walters is the USA TODAY NETWORK-FLORIDA Deputy Sports Editor. Reach him at twalters@gannett.com

Tim Walters, USA TODAY NETWORK-FLORIDA