ACC Commissioner John Swofford told USA Today Sports the five major conferences could form a “super division” within FBS, as soon as January 2014. The “super division” would grant the big revenue programs more autonomy, while remaining within the NCAA purview.
“That’s a potential way of making a change that would basically retain the fundamental NCAA oversight and umbrella, if you will,” Swofford said. “If the five conferences were to break off, I mean, that’s a complicated move. You’d have to, in essence, duplicate the NCAA in some form or fashion, and then what does that mean for intercollegiate athletics? So if you’ve got another division, if that’s the answer within the NCAA, you can maneuver and find an appropriate way, I think, to address those kinds of issues.”
The “super division” or something similar is necessary and inevitable. “Haves” and “have nots” in FBS football play a different sport. That has always been the case. Now, with new TV contracts and a new distribution of postseason revenue, that difference will be exacerbated.
College football and basketball face a time of flux. Elite conferences can’t afford to be hamstrung by the great unwashed. Full cost of attendance stipends were scuttled by the small schools. That may be only the baseline of reforms needed to resolve the O’Bannon lawsuit. Amateurism and the existence of football itself could come into play within the next couple decades. There’s too much at stake for the limiting factor for reform being what teams the UABs of FBS can afford.
The “Super Division Era” may stink for smaller football schools, especially those just on the precipice of joining the elite (*cough* UConn and Cincinnati *cough*). However, it will be better than the “Super Conference Era” would have been. The latter may have shut them out entirely. The former will still offer them access and a share, even if it is a pittance.
[Photo via USA Today Sports]