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If I had a billion dollars

By now, most of you have probably heard of the Billion Dollar Bracket Challenge sponsored by Quicken Loans and backed by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway.

All you have to do is predict the correct winner of all 63 March Madness games in the NCAA men's basketball tournament.

The bracket will be released on Sunday night, so that means all of us have very few hours to study up as conference basketball tournaments wind down this weekend.

The odds of actually winning this are less than the lottery. Heck, they probably make the lottery odds look like a game of rock, paper, scissors in comparison.

With that in mind, it hasn't stopped my wife and I from having casual conversations about what we will do with $1 billion.

My knee-jerk response is to say nothing – for those that have watched Office Space, you know the rest of that line: "I did nothing, and it was everything I always dreamed it would be."

Taking the conversation into the Sauk Valley sports world, I've started to think about things I would change if I had the kind of money that swayed influence.

So, here we go:

• First, I'd influence the IHSA to start seeding all eight brackets of the high school football playoffs 1 through 32. I want the best teams reaching state.

A few years ago when Morrison and Newman were the top two teams in 2A, it would have been sweet to see the two Big Rivers teams meet in Champaign. That's not to say the two quarterfinal meetings at Roscoe Eades Stadium weren't fun.

• Second, I'd push for baseball and softball seasons to start later in the spring and finish later in the summer.

Folks, games are slated to start on Monday. If you haven't noticed, there's still snow out there, and the ground hasn't thawed. I think teams will be lucky to get any games in next week, even if it stays dry. If we start getting spring rain, we could lose more games than that.

Last year, cold and wet conditions cost most teams the first month of the season. That led to teams playing four or five games in a week toward the end. In baseball, that can take a toll on pitchers.

• Third, I'd urge a change in IHSA regulations in conferences. Football has a lot to do with this. Perhaps, making schools ineligible for the postseason for a certain period of time if they leave a conference within 5 years of that conference forming.

We've seen major shifts in conferences, and even new leagues seem to struggle to maintain membership. Or, like the Three Rivers, aligning divisions seems to do nothing but create division.

For those that don't know, rumor has it that the Three Rivers will shift to an East-West division break in every sport but football starting next year. I don't know who is instigating the change, all I know is the conference has tried the North-South divisions for only part of 1 school year.

Mostly, I'd just like to see local teams forming leagues and keeping them. It will never make sense to me that Dixon, Rock Falls and Sterling aren't in the same conference. I know there are enrollment numbers to consider, but it seems economically prudent for those schools to want to be affiliated. Throw in Mendota, Rochelle and Geneseo, and you have pretty nice league.

I know, I've brought that up before.

I am sure I could do this all night, but that'll be it for now. I'll see you next week, and don't forget to fill out your bracket. It'd be a great story for a local to become a billionaire.

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