Decade Of Change: A Glimpse At College Football In 2020 (Spoiler: It Won't Include Playoffs)

I'm not entirely sure why they asked me to do this thing about what happens over the next decade in college football; everyone knows that Skynet's but a few years away from seizing control of our nation and its infrastructure, throwing the balance of society into chaos and bloodshed. That's science, people. But if we must pretend that the Reverse Robot Dinosaur Revolution won't happen, here's what changes would theoretically await the world's greatest sport. And really, there's nowhere to start but sports' most controversial (and by that we mean "hated") postseason.

1. A college football playoff will finally... not happen: Look, I don't want to write this. I want to write that college football will implement an eight-team playoff with the top six conference winners and two wild cards and that it'll be in a Super Bowl-style method of placing games--much easier to sell out a home game than a neutral-site game--and that the BCS will get stabbed into oblivion by a nuclear missile like in one of those terrible action movies. That's not going to happen, because that's not the way a power structure operates. The BCS is comfortably in place and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future. Sorry.

2. That's okay, because a non-BCS school will compete for the national title: Setting aside the total hose job the BCS put on TCU and Boise State this season by placing them in the Separate But Equal Bowl, it's important to realize just how close the Horned Frogs came to the title game. If Texas doesn't pull off the quick drive for the field goal against Nebraska and Cincinnati doesn't come back from that 21-point deficit against Pittsburgh, TCU's in the game. Both Texas' and Cincinnati's comebacks were major improbabilities; fate will not continue to side against the non-BCS schools forever.

3. The opt-out is coming: This won't be pretty, but with the Marcus Jordan situation and the immense, wasted moneymaking potential of Tim Tebow, eventually the NCAA's going to throw its hands up and let its most marketable players get theirs. Thus, if an athlete approaches his school with written contract offers totaling more than his scholarship's cost, the NCAA will let him (or her) explore those professional opportunities without blowing their eligibility. It won't go smoothly, and it'll be an even bigger headache than before. If that surprises you, please allow us to introduce you to the NCAA. They are where good ideas go to die.

4. Oregon will begin changing uniforms after each quarter: This will continue for a few years until Phil Knight perfects the color-changing jersey technology that has eluded him for decades. It'll be visually stunning, but the jersey will--on rare occasions, we assure you--burst into flames fueled by the complex polymers in the fabric and pads underneath. It'll place Oregon players' lives in mortal danger, but did you hear us? COLOR CHANGING UNIFORM TECHNOLOGY.

5. The Big XII is about to look very different: The Big XII isn't as much "dysfunctional" as just plain underutilized; no conference with Texas, Oklahoma, and Nebraska should be such an afterthought on the national landscape. But lo and behold, a defection to the Big Ten by Missouri (that's very, very happening, by the way; the Big 10 would love to get in on the St. Louis market, and Missouri's brass have been writing "MIZZOU + BIG TEN 4EVER" on their Trapper Keepers ever since the BXI mentioned the word "expansion") will shock the conference into action. It might be ugly, and we're highly skeptical that Baylor survives the, ahem, restructuring.

But CBS should and probably will be throwing gobs of money at the conference, which is struggling with an uneven, undercompetitive deal with Fox at the moment. There's frankly no reason why the Big XII should be taking in more than $100 million less than the Big Ten or SEC--to say nothing of the fact that most Iowa State games aren't even televised--and we're sure CBS would like to fix that situation.

6. San Jose State will just start skipping games and wondering if anybody notices: Nobody will notice.

7. And finally, concussion prevention will dramatically change the nature of the game: The darkest, most unmentionable aspect of college football is undoubtedly head injuries and the treatment thereof; by the end of the decade, we'll look back on Tim Tebow missing one whole game after his brain rearrangement against Kentucky and conclude that the sport was run by barbarians and ignorant savages back then. But if you were to go to a sports physician and say "we want that (this is where you point at college football; look, this would be so much easier if it were visual, but SBN wouldn't pony up for a full film crew), but with no concussions," you'd be laughed out of the building.

We won't make any predictions about how the league deals with concussions, mainly because it's obvious the NCAA has no idea how to do so. Currently, the word is that they'll empower officials to remove players from a game if one has signs of having suffered a concussion. That's a silly idea for multiple reasons; first, that's completely not the referee's job. They're field judges, not doctors, and they shouldn't be counted on for something as serious as determining a player's well-being. Second, the issue isn't whether guys are playing with concussions, it's that they're suffering too many of them over the course of a career. And frankly, there are way too many idiot athletes without the capacity to demonstrate that they haven't recently suffered a concussion to begin with.

We're not sure what the move will be; to guess the NCAA's reaction is, frankly, a disservice to their talent for imagining new and odd ways to make their athletes' lives more unsatisfactory. So we don't know what it is, but we know you're going to hate it. Can't wait.

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