College Football’s present course is untenable. Even those at Jim Delany’s end of the bell curve recognize large scale change is needed. Though, if we can gleam anything from the BIG commissioner’s words, the have-TV-deal’s vision of college football’s future bears no resemblance to Dan Wetzel’s equitable playoff.
Delany argued the athletic scholarship is inadequate in its present form. Assuming the ancillary costs of attendance are around $3,000, covering those costs for all 9,500 Big Ten athletes would cost around $2.3 million per school. Covering just football and men’s basketball would cost $294,000 per year. Big Ten schools earn around $22 million per year in TV revenue.
“Forty years ago, you had a scholarship plus $15 a month laundry money,” Delany said. “Today, you have the same scholarship, but not with the $15 laundry money.”
Well, not every school in Division I-A can afford to do that, which is where Delany gets to the meat of his point.
“How do we get back more toward the collegiate model and a regulatory system that is based more on student-athlete welfare than it is on a level playing field, where everything is about a cost issue and whether or not everybody can afford to do everything everybody else can do?”
How do we get there? Probably splitting major college football off into a separate league without NCAA oversight, the move Tony Barnhart and others have suggested.
Don’t cue the Imperial March just yet. This would not be the worst thing. It would permit big revenue schools to treat their athletes more fairly. The football player bringing in hundreds of thousands in revenue to the school could finally get his ancillary costs covered.
It would be acknowledging a class system already in place. Utah is in the Pac 12. TCU will be in the Big East. They could let the other legit challengers in by inviting the MWC. You’ll never see San Jose State compete for a national title. It has to whore itself out to Pac 12 schools every year to pay rent. Ditto with the MAC, the Sun Belt and every other conference that would be left out.
The extra benefits would theoretically give big conferences a recruiting advantage. In practice, they already have that. Recruits seldom turn down an offer from an SEC school to play in the Sun Belt. It’s not like the one weirdo who would do that will be swayed by the coverage of his ancillary costs.
Under this system, there would be no concern about the unwashed banging their increased postseason around and discovering fire. The BCS gets amended into a hybrid-playoff that generates more revenue for the schools with access and TV companies while still allowing bowl executives to wet their beaks and coaches and ADs to get their precious 6-6 bonuses.
Of course, this is all hypothetical. The collective outrage about the disenfranchisement of Utah State and Troy surely would thwart any attempt to do this. But, just for shits and giggles, here is what the new 82-team Division I might look like.
ACC: FSU, Maryland, N.C. State, BC, Clemson, Wake Forest, Va. Tech, Miami, Georgia Tech, N.C., Duke, Virginia
Big East: Conn, W. Virginia, Pitt, Syracuse, South Florida, Louisville, Cincinnati, Rutgers, TCU, UCF.
BIG: OSU, MSU, Wisc, Iowa, Illinois, Penn St., Michigan, NW, Purdue, Minn, Indiana, Nebraska
Big 12: Missouri, Kansas State, Iowa State, Kansas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma St., Texas A&M, Baylor, Texas Tech, Texas
MWC: Air Force, Colorado State, New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV, Wyoming, Boise State, Fresno State, Nevada, Hawaii
Pac 12: Oregon, Stanford, Washington, USC, Oregon St., Arizona St., Arizona, Cal, UCLA, Washington St., Utah, Colorado
SEC: South Car., Florida, Georgia, Tenn., Kentucky, Vandy, Auburn, Arkansas, LSU, Alabama, Ole Miss, Miss. St.
Independent: Notre Dame, BYU, Army, Navy.
[Photo via Getty]