Greg Bales

How Mark Cuban Can Get a College Football Playoff

Mark Cuban is making noise about starting a college football playoff, to which I say: Bully! I’m sure he knows it would be a difficult sell no matter how much money he puts up. Entrenched interests and a general intransigence among college presidents are a dark, dark swamp, full of leeches and gar and snapping turtles like to take off the foot of anyone foolish enough to go wading there.

Honey Island swamp in Louisiana, by Flickr user Shubert Ciencia, released under a Creative Commons license

However, there is a path mapped out that Cuban could try: the strategy laid out by the National Popular Vote bill. It’s a state law proposal that changes how states allocate the votes of their members of the electoral college to reflect the national popular vote. Its ingenuity is that it takes effect if and only if states representing a majority of electoral college votes enact the law, too. This allows states to protect their parochial interests up until the point at which their new law will matter.

Cuban could adopt a similar strategy by approaching schools conference-by-conference and negotiating with them to agree to join the playoff if and only if a majority of other schools in the conference also join it. This would allow college presidents to pretend that they weren’t sticking their necks out for something that might or might not work until such a point that sticking one’s neck out doesn’t seem like such a dangerous thing. Cuban benefits by not having to try to convince everyone at once.1

1 Of course, convincing everyone is hardly ever necessary. Convincing the powerful is usually enough.

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