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Mark Cuban runs out of shiny toys to buy, eyes college football postseason

Submitted by on February 23, 2011No Comment

Even for billionaires, you would think owning a NBA franchise would keep just about anyone occupied. That is unless you are Mark Cuban. Even after purchasing the Dallas Mavericks from Ross Perot a decade ago, Cuban has always keep a wandering eye for available sport franchises. But even with a reported $2.4 billion war chest, his foray into sports beyond the Mavericks has been anything but smooth. From a failed 1.3 billion dollar bid to purchase the Chicago Cubs in 2009, to an unsuccessful 600 million dollar attempt at buying the Texas Rangers in 2010, his struggle to expand his sports empire is well documented. He’s also made no attempt at hiding his frustration with what can essentially be considered being blackballed from purchasing another major sports franchise.

“I’ve just come to the conclusion that if I’m going to write a huge check, I’d rather have my [butt] kissed than have to chase.”

With that said, it is no surprise Mark Cuban has temporarily given up on major league baseball and has set his sights on college football instead. The college football postseason in particular.

And as evidence that he means business, Cuban registered a limited liability company in Texas called Radical Football “to impact college football so that the last two teams playing are the best two teams” with a website (albeit just a landing page) and all. Including, and I’m sure not limited to, hosting a competition among college business students who pitched their plans to change the college football postseason in San Diego earlier this month. An event won by a team from the University of Oxford who will get the opportunity to present their 16 team playoff format to Cuban later this year. Leave it to a team from England to come up with the best postseason format for college football.

You got to give it to Cuban. He’s actually making good on a threat to create a BCS alternative he made back in December. A threat that involved using $500 million dollars as incentive for teams to adopt his playoff if selected.

“To change or replace this controversial system, Cuban has suggested persuading college presidents by using financial incentives.” “The only thing that’s kept them from doing it is a lack of capital,” Cuban said, “which I can deal with.”

A good idea, but one that is largely based on the faulty premise that money, or the lack of it, is the reason a playoff does not exist. It’s simply a mistake to assume the impediment to a playoff is money. Playoff opponents have always admitted that a playoff like that found in college basketball would surely generate more money through television contracts than the current format, but the issue has never been about money.

It’s not like this move hasn’t been pulled before. International Sports and Leisure, a Swiss company, tried to convince university presidents to start a playoff by offering $3 billion over eight years in 1999 and got shot down. And even had it been about the moola, there is surely no shortage of partners out there still willing to pay a premium for a playoff and the blockbuster programming that comes with it. CBS’s new $11 billion, 14 year agreement for the television rights to the NCAA tournament is clear evidence of that. A college football playoff would also most assuredly be worth more and dwarf the $785.7 million dollars a year CBS is paying for the basketball tournament. Suddenly, Mark Cuban’s $500 million proposal doesn’t seem all that enticing. If $600 million couldn’t buy you the Texas Rangers, last valued at $412 million in 2008 by Forbes, what makes you think $500 million can revolutionize an entire sport?

It’s hard not to chalk this up as just another one of Mark Cuban’s attempts at throwing money to solve a problem. A technique that might work when he invested in the UFL (alternate American Football league), and Zuffa (UFC’s parent company), but if coaches, lobbyists, Senators, and the President couldn’t force a change, it’s hard to see how $500 million can do the trick.

On the bright side, once Cuban realizes the futility of his newfound hobby, the extra $500 million he saved will come in handy once he sees this, or this.

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