On second thought, let’s just blow up college football and start over. Let’s concede to the confusion and greed, leave it in a dust heap and try again, from the top.

What a mess we will leave behind. From the innocence of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s, we have arrived here:

• The name, image and likeness (NIL) plan and the resulting bidding war for players, which means the rich are getting richer.

•  The beam-me-up, Scottie, transfer portal that has brought rampant, uncontrolled free agency and given players more freedom than their professional counterparts. And the rich get richer again.

• The hostile takeovers by rival conferences — the SEC takes Texas and Oklahoma from the Big 12, the Big Ten sees it and raises them, taking USC and UCLA from the Pac-12 and now it’s the SEC’s turn to call or raise and you can bet eventually it will be the latter (next: Florida State? Clemson?). Meanwhile, the Pac-12 has been mortally wounded and the Big 12 is reeling. The Power Five is contracting into the Power Two. And the rich get richer again.

• The total lack of leadership, leaving no one to restore order to the game. The NCAA’s once-ironfisted stranglehold on college sports has been replaced by … no one. Chaos has ensued, and the big conferences are looking out for their own interests even if it hurts the overall health of college football. And the rich get richer still.

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The transfer portal: Too much of a good thing?
Another hostile takeover has the Pac-12 reeling

• The bowl system has been reduced to this: a 41-game schedule that is so bloated and fat that there aren’t enough teams with winning records to fill it out, and only small handful that matter. The purpose of the lesser bowls is simply to sell advertising and fill out the TV schedule. And the rich … well, you know.

So blow it up. All of it. Dabo Swinney, the Clemson football coach, made just such a suggestion last spring, and things have only gotten worse since then. Reorganize the 131-team FBS into two giant leagues — place about half of the teams in a pro-style elite league divided into conferences and divisions a la the NFL and culminating in an eight-team playoff. The line between the NFL and the college game has become very thin already, so let’s go all the way with it and stop pretending otherwise. Place the other half of the schools in their own league with their own playoff.

This merely formalizes what has already been taking place for decades. Only half of the schools — those belonging to the so-called Power Five conferences — had an avenue to the national playoff anyway, and, for that matter, the New Year’s Six bowl games.

The new super league will consist of the best teams from the Power Five conferences and will operate like the NFL, except salaries will be replaced by scholarships and big stipends.

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With more college football upheaval, the question begs: Who’s in charge?

The first order of business is to hire a commissioner. The college game is crying for leadership to ensure the welfare of the entire game. As things stand now, no one is in charge; it’s being ruled by TV networks and school and conference presidents who are only protecting their own turf and making money grabs instead of watching out for the greater good of the game. All of college football must give the commissioner freedom and support to direct the game.

In turn, the commissioner’s first order of business is to place restrictions on the NIL and the transfer portal. Name another sport — Little League, high school, NFL — that allows athletes to change teams so freely. This is necessary to promote competition; otherwise, you end up with the NBA and its superteams. If necessary, require players to sign contracts that commit them to three to four years at a university.

The game is already being stalked by rich boosters and recruiters luring players with the promise of NIL deals. That gives certain schools — those in big markets and/or wealthy boosters — even more advantages than they already have. They might even consider adopting the NFL’s revenue-sharing program, treating it as one business instead of 131 of them. A strong, deep league in which all teams are healthy is better than the current model.

College football — and, for that matter, college basketball — is a bloated mess. It’s time to blow it up and start over.

Alabama coach Nick Saban watches players warm up for the College Football Playoff championship NCAA football game against Georgia on Jan. 10, 2022, in Indianapolis. Saban is concerned about the current state of college football. He recently told The Associated Press “I don’t think what we’re doing right now is a sustainable model.” | Paul Sancya, Associated Press