Guerry Clegg commentary: Just a few minor suggestions

sports@ledger-enquirer.comApril 13, 2013 

As soon as I'm hired as Commissioner of All Sports (application pending, references being checked) …

• There will be a compromise to freshman eligibility. No incoming student-athlete will be allowed to participate in a game or event until he or she passes a course aimed at becoming a successful college student. Most colleges already have such a class. But this one would have some form of accountability to the NCAA. It would include segments on writing essays, budgeting study time, life skills and abiding by NCAA rules.

• College coaches will not be allowed to contact high school players during school hours. If they want to talk to recruits, they can do it at practice or on weekends.

• The college baseball season, all the way through the College World Series, will be pushed back a month. No one wants to sit in a ballpark in February and watch games played in parkas.

• The NBA will be completely overhauled. We will start with contraction and cut the number of teams down to 24 with four divisions of six teams each. The top 12 teams make the playoffs, with the four division winners receiving byes in the first round of the playoffs, while the other teams play best-of-three series. The higher seeds in the first round will be the host teams for all games. That will put a premium on winning in the regular season.

The regular season will be cut back to 66 games -- 30 divisional games, 36 inter-divisional games. But here's a twist, to borrow something from baseball and from football.

In the inter-conference games, teams will alternate the two games home and away -- as they do in football. For example, the Heat and Lakers would play their two games in Miami one year and in Los Angeles the next year. And this is what they'd borrow from baseball. They'd play the games on back-to-back nights.

Teams would play no more than four games in a seven-day stretch and never more than three games in five days.

The objective would be to reduce the grinding travel that tempts coaches to rest players, which short changes the fans.

• Any baseball player who charges the mound will automatically be suspended for 20 games. Any pitcher who hits a batter above the chest will be automatically ejected and suspended for 10 games.

Throwing at a hitters hip or lower back is sometimes a necessary part of baseball. Throwing anywhere close to the head -- accidental or not -- cannot be tolerated.

• NFL rosters will be increased to 60 players. No team will play on Sunday and then on Thursday. Players need rest. It's a violent game. They should be protected, and the fans deserve to see them at their best.

• There will be rule changes in several sports. College football players who go to the ground inadvertently or on the own can get up and keep running, just like the NFL. There will be no offensive goaltending in basketball. The object of the game is to put the ball in the basket. Golfers, you have 60 seconds to putt. If you want to spend 58 seconds tapping down spike marks, go for it. And free placement from fairway divots.

• Said it before but it's worth repeating: Any college athlete who graduates with eligibility will not count against the team's scholarship limit. Shouldn't graduating players be rewarded?

• Rather than paying college players, let them sell their tickets and autographed memorabilia. But there will be no tolerance for academic fraud.

-- Guerry Clegg is an independent correspondent. Write to him at sports@ledger-enquirer.com.

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