I’ve been a fan of John Infante’s blogging for some time now. He’s a sharp guy who knows his stuff. Which is why I’m puzzled about this post of his that I’ve now read three or four times, trying to figure out what I’m missing.
Basically, in response to the news about the Big Ten considering an increase in the amount of scholarship support its schools would direct to its student-athletes (consideration for which, not surprisingly, is being welcomed in other quarters), Infante believes that the NCAA needs to deliver an ultimatum to D-1 football along the lines of a Ja’Juan Story-ish take a doodoo or get off the pot:
… There will never be total competitive equity unless the NCAA passed a rule limiting the total spending of athletic departments. But there are ways to stop it from getting worse or at least stem the tide. And one way is to get football off the fence, one way or another.
One option is for FBS football to agree to a playoff, but not just any playoff. An actual NCAA Championship, run by the NCAA, with revenue distributed by the NCAA according to traditional standards of NCAA revenue distribution. Lots of black, the same field at every site, with blue circles as far as the eye can see. Assuming a college football playoff earned revenue equal to the Division I men’s basketball tournament, it would pay for the jump to full cost of attendance scholarships for all sports, a substantially increased enforcement staff, all while allowing for significantly higher revenue distributed based on success in the championship.
The other option is for FBS football to be kicked out. That is, to remove FBS football from the list of NCAA sports, stop regulating the sport, and stop using football to determine how revenue is distributed. In effect, if football does not want to have actual skin in the game of its own regulation, the NCAA shouldn’t either.
Now, while I’m in complete agreement with Infante about the seriousness of the threat that the Big Ten proposal poses for schools which lack the resources of Big Six institutions, the above passage makes me blink rapidly, shake my head and wonder who he thinks he’s kidding there.
If in fact the proposal is a power play on Delany’s part – which I think it is, at least in large part – then the suggestion that the Big Ten and its peers should pull a sudden 180 and surrender the postseason to the NCAA to level the playing field, financially speaking, makes absolutely no sense. The power schools had no interest in sharing the wealth any further before Delany’s scholarship pitch. Why should that change anything?
And as for part two, that’s some threat. Evidently, Infante thinks that if push came to shove…
Could it happen? That largely depends on who would vote on a proposal to remove FBS football. But remember that if you pit the BCS AQ conferences vs. the rest of Division I, the “have nots” control a sizeable 33-18 majority on the Legislative Council. So if the rest of Division I, including some FBS conferences, decide that removing football (at least temporarily) from the NCAA is in their best interests, they have more than enough votes to do it.
I detect a whiff of briar patch there. Separating the power conferences from the mid-majors certainly ends the tension over sharing the wealth. I don’t see how Big Ten and SEC schools see that as a bad development. Beyond that, who’s to say that the separation stops with football? Whatever arrangement the banished schools come to in structuring their new organization, it’ll still require rules and enforcement of those rules. And once that’s in place, how much sense would it make for those institutions to have one sport overseen by one outfit and all other sports regulated by the NCAA?
In other words, why shouldn’t we expect men’s basketball to go along for the ride? And if that happens, the NCAA is going to have a lot more to worry about than the fact that D-1 football doesn’t pony up enough money to cover the expense of putting on the 1-AA football playoff.
That’s why I don’t get the idea that the football powers somehow have more to lose in this fight over revenue than any other group.
… The creation of a rival championship series would divide the national championship the way rival polls once did. Think of the problems it would create for the BCS. Sure, the BCS could argue that they are the real owners of the championship, but there would still be doubts out there and a matter of unfinished business. That argument didn’t last long for the NBA and ABA.
Has this guy forgotten that Utah is no longer a mid-major and that TCU steps up in class in another year? The rival championship series would be little more than a glorified version of what we’ve seen in the WAC for the last decade, an exercise in seeing whether Boise State could run the gauntlet without being tripped up.
But that’s not what matters in this discussion. The power conferences would be thrilled with a proposal like this, because, again, it ends the need for them to share the BCS money with the mid-majors. The financial threat a mid-majors playoff poses isn’t to the Rose Bowl; it’s to the Little Caesars Bowl.
So, yeah, I’m puzzled by the notion that there’s some real leverage the non-AQ schools hold, either on their own or through the NCAA. If that were truly the case, why wait ’til now to exercise it?