Who should run college football in the future?

  • College football reporter
  • Joined ESPN.com in 2007
  • Graduate of Indiana University

While he was at the beach this summer, Missouri coach Eliah Drinkwitz spent a couple of days thinking about the future of college football.

“Somebody has to run it,” he said, “because right now, we are running amok.”

“Who’s the boss in college football?” asked West Virginia coach Neal Brown. “That’s a great question. How many other huge enterprises do you say, ‘Who’s the boss?'”

Coaches aren’t the only ones contemplating who should run the most lucrative and popular sport in college athletics. There is a growing contingent that suggests the FBS should separate from the NCAA, which currently handles all regulatory functions — like rules, officiating, bowl certification, litigation and enforcement — but doesn’t operate the postseason or receive any revenue from college football. The money from the College Football Playoff is retained by the 10 FBS conferences, and schools use the money how they choose.

“The fact is that the NCAA has all of this responsibility, yet it has no resources with respect to FBS football,” said Tom McMillen, the president and CEO of the LEAD1 Association, which represents the athletic directors in the FBS.

This summer, LEAD1 organized a working group of 38 athletic directors representing all 10 FBS conferences and one independent to study the idea of separating college football from the NCAA. With the help of North Carolina’s Center for Research in Intercollegiate Athletics, LEAD1 developed a survey it released this week and expects the results by the end of the month. It will review the findings at its September meeting in Washington, D.C.

“We have had three calls and each involved passionate discussion and debate about the future of college football,” said Erianne Weight, director of the Center for Research in Intercollegiate Athletics. “The very clear consensus is that the status quo is no longer acceptable.”

Decision-makers are still scratching the surface of possibilities, and few people have put a plan on paper, leaving many questions about logistics and how any change would be implemented. Here’s a look at the more popular options currently being considered, and what leaders throughout the sport are saying about each:

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