Will Time Change the Ivy League?

Will Time Change the Ivy League? 
The Ivy League.  The Ancient 8.  If you’re a sports fan, a real sports fan, you probably don’t like the fact that the Ivy doesn’t send its champion to the FCS playoffs.  If you value traditions and believe that sports shouldn’t be big business, you probably love the fact that they don’t do this. 
Let’s face it, college sports has mushroomed into its own cartel.  Last Sunday—Easter Sunday—TBS decided to show two regional basketball finals at 6 pm and 8:30 pm.  In years past, these games were at 12:10 and 2:40, then 2:30 and 5:10 but now they go deep into prime time. 
In college football, the sanctity of New Year’s Day has evaporated and last year, the College Football Playoff committee decided to take on families by staging the semifinals on New Year’s Eve.
The Ivy League has stood tough over the years. In football, they still wait until the third Saturday in September to begin their season; they play only 10 games over ten weeks, their season ends before Thanksgiving and their champion does not enter the FCS playoffs.  And they don’t offer athletic scholarships in any sport. 
With the exception of a few Fridays, they play their games on Saturdays.  There is no kowtowing to a network to play Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday night.  One might get the sense that the Ivies are above the money that is often thrown at other conferences.  Networks need content and with more and more people dumping cable to watch programming on Hulu and Netflix, sports becomes vital to keeping cable subscribers.  If sports were ever to become available on these devices……look out. 
Change is inevitable, and even in the Ivy League, there are rumblings that change is coming.  It was recently announced that after the 2016-2017 basketball season, the league will hold a four-team conference championship tournament at The Palestra in Philadelphia.  Of course, only four of the eight are being invited, so the Ivy is still trying to keep their sense of uniqueness. 
There are some stories circulating that the Ivy League wouldn’t mind taking in more money and one way to do so is to offer more content.  In basketball, the conference tournament will generate some monies from the broadcaster, and in football, the league has deals with the American Sports Network, Fox College Sports and the NBC Sports Network.  Once deals are made, the network executives like to tweak and the best way to do this is to throw more money to the leagues.  There is nothing stopping a network from approaching the Ivy League and offering x amount of dollars for three Thursday night games is there?  Sure, the Ivy can say no, but there will be zeroes at the end of each check, so how long can they realistically refrain?
What about football?  Personally, I love their current model.  It’s 10 games, 10 weeks and it’s possible for students to attend classes, and then practice and play games.  The players can spend Thanksgiving weekend with their friends and families and then head back to school, prepare for finals and actually emulate regular college students. 
But these are athletes.  They love to compete and many Ivy League football players chose Yale, Harvard and Brown over Lehigh, James Madison and Bryant, and the latter schools can qualify for the FCS playoffs.  The Ivy League sends its teams to NCAA playoffs in every other sport, often with tremendous success (see Yale, men’s hockey, 2013).  If the men’s basketball team can dance at March Madness, why can’t the football teams play in the playoffs or at the very least, go bowling? 
Sure, playing in the FCS playoffs will make it bit harder for football players to study, but there are still 16 to 18 hours in a day, that should be enough time to attend class, practice and study. 
The other idea being tossed around is to have a bowl game for the Ivy League champion.  There is a model for this as we saw last December when the MEAC gave up their automatic bid to the FCS playoffs so they could play the SWAC champion in the inaugural Celebration Bowl in Atlanta.  The game was exciting, well attended and probably piqued the interest of Ivy League coaches, athletic directors and presidents alike.  If a network offered some money for the Ivy League champion to play another FCS team in a Saturday bowl game, would the Ivy League listen and more importantly, take the money?
The idea that the basketball teams have agreed to stage a conference tournament has to rankle a few of the football coaches.  Al Bagnoli, the Columbia coach (and before that, the long-time coach at Penn) has always argued for playoff inclusion.  Now, the basketball teams have taken the step of a conference tournament, so will the football coaches and administrators state their case for an expanded season? 
Those hoping that the Ivies partake in the FCS playoffs shouldn’t hold their breath, but a bowl game does seem to have a chance.  In his December 5, 2015 column, Chip Malafronte of The New Haven Register quoted Yale athletic director Tom Beckett as saying that a “bowl game is more feasible than the FCS playoffs.”  The playoffs would take athletes away from the reading period, final exams and of course, the semester break and should an Ivy League team go an a playoff run, it could be seven more weeks of practicing and playing.
Basketball doesn’t run across semesters like football and even if Yale won the NCAA title, there would still be all of April and half of May to “catch up on school assignments.” 
I’m sure the coaches and players would like a bowl game as a reward for winning the conference title.  Of course, who would be the opponent?  The Pioneer Football League, like the Ivy League doesn’t offer athletic scholarships, but their conference champion now gets an automatic bid to the FCS playoffs.  I don’t think they would follow the MEAC and back out of the playoffs for a bowl game and I’m not sure the Ivy would accept playing “Pioneer #2,” in such a game. 
Ditto for the Patriot League.  Not only do Patriot League teams play in the playoffs, they’ve had great success.  Last year, Colgate advanced to the quarterfinals and Fordham received an at-large bid.  In 2003, Colgate played in the then Division 1-AA title game, losing to Delaware.  The league also gives athletic scholarships, and still plays the Ivies in many nonconference games each fall.
There are plenty of teams in FCS that would provide an opponent for the Ivy League champion in a potential bowl game, but there haven’t been any serious talks of staging such a game; at least not yet.  For now, Ivy League football remains in a time warp, and for some that’s a positive, for others a negative. 
Times are changing and one has to think that eventually, at least one Ivy League team will play more than 10 games.