College football’s calling cards have been its pageantry, its rivalries and its knack for making fall Saturdays crisper and sunnier for its legion of fans.
Lately, though, college football has also become known for its scandals, its controversies and postseason debates.
In short, the game is still as vibrant and competitive as ever, but the noise surrounding it is becoming deafening.
Complaints and consternation echo from Chestnut Hill, Mass. to Palo Alto, Calif. and almost every campus in between.
What is seldom heard above the din is a plan to remedy what ails the sport and, to a larger extent, college athletics as a whole.
Instead of sitting by idly, ESPN took a familiar leadership role on July 29 by assembling an 11-member blue ribbon panel at its Bristol campus.
The resulting conversations, suggestions — and yes disagreements — will be presented across ESPN platforms during the week of Aug. 14-21 and will include a SportsCenter series titled, “College Football: Blueprint for Change” and a Sunday Outside the Lines show on Aug. 21.
In the video above, get a behind-the-scenes look at the discussion.
In the video after the jump, watch more highlights.
“We can’t make policy [with this panel discussion] but we hope it will start the dialogue.” said ESPN’s Vice President and Director of News, Vince Doria.
“We hope it will add to the dialogue and give some reference points for people to talk about.”
Moderated by Rece Davis, the panel was made up of ESPN’s Mike Bellotti, Jay Bilas, Rod Gilmore, Kirk Herbstreit, Mark May, Robert Smith and Urban Meyer.
Outside experts included University of Tennessee interim vice chancellor/director of athletics, Joan Cronan, former Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese, Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban and Oklahoma Head Coach Bob Stoops.
“I think one of the things we’re missing is these kids have value, they have tremendous value in the market place and we’re trying to artificially suppress that value,” said ESPN’s college basketball analyst and outspoken observer, Jay Bilas.
“And we’ve been doing it since 1905 and it’s never worked.”