Conference powers taking jabs at NCAA

Sports Commentary

It must have looked like a scene reminiscent of a 1970s gangster movie.

The heads of college football’s five families — the Southeastern Conference, the Big XII, the Big Ten, the Pac-12 and Atlantic Coast Conference — were holding a BCS members only meeting.

Just imagine the caviar, crab legs, cigars and champagne being shared as the most powerful people in college sports talked about what was best for the futures of their respective members.

Cue the ominous violin music ...

Football is the gasoline and the match in college sports. Put those combustible elements together and something is going to get blown up. Blown up real good.

Boom, there goes the NCAA as we know it.

Some of the heads of the five families took full advantage of the recent spate of football preseason media days to spew the talking points from the meeting.

• “Important questions need to be answered.” — SEC commissioner Mike Slive.

• “This is not a time when trimming around the edges is going to make very much difference.” — Big XII commissioner Bob Bowlsby.

• “We’ve done more complicated things than this.” — Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany, touting a four-point plan for NCAA reform.

• “I do think we’ve missed the boat in this new structure in terms of keeping people who really know college athletics and deal with it every day and know its nuances.” — ACC commissioner John Swofford.

The message from the five families is the NCAA has to change or we’re taking our respective footballs and going elsewhere. And considering the NCAA is made up of more than the 70 or so BCS schools, that would mean a departure from the organization for those universities at least in matters dealing with football.

For background, college football is currently set up in four divisions.

Division I is comprised of the five conferences, as well as leagues such as Conference USA, the MAC and the Mountain West. Division I-AA, now known as the Division I Football Championship Subdivision, is made up of schools like the University of Missouri traditionally schedules for its season opener that’s shown on pay-per-view (this year, Murray State) or schools more known for their basketball prowess (again, think Murray State). Division II features conferences such as the MIAA. To be blunt, Division III is made up of schools that have football players who predominately go to school for an education.

The heads of college football’s five families have no beef with the last three divisions. It’s the Conference USA, the MAC and the Mountain West’s of the world they want to whack because it’s those schools that are cutting into their BCS money pie without bringing much to the table.

“We’ve made it too easy to get into Division I and too easy to stay there,” Bowlsby said.

So the five families are laying the groundwork to break off from their less prestigious and definitely less prosperous brethren and perhaps form their own division.

Why? Why not?

They could make their own rules. Scholarship limits could be increased at each school and those schools could begin paying players an annual stipend. That won’t happen now, current Division I members such as Tulsa and Memphis wouldn’t vote for it because they can’t afford it because they don’t get as big a piece of the BCS money pie and it would place them at a competitive disadvantage.

Is it going to happen? It’s all about the money and as we all know, money talks. And if you don’t have money, the five conference families don’t want to hear what you have to say.

The have-nots are about to get whacked.

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