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Expect power conferences to get more powerful in coming years

Mark Emmert AP

NCAA football hasn’t had an level playing field in decades (if ever), but has always operated in an idealist manner as if one exists.

That won’t be the case for much longer. USA Today’s George Schroeder reports from the NCAA’s annual convention in San Diego that the five power conferences — ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC — will soon be able to operate without having to answer to lower-revenue conferences and schools.

On a separate but parallel track, schools in the power conferences chafed at the constraints placed upon them by schools with fewer resources. In recent years, proposals such as stipends (or enhanced scholarships designed to cover full cost of attendance), favored by the 65 schools in the five wealthiest conferences, were voted down by the larger Division I membership of more than 350 schools.

Thanks to the SEC’s new TV deal and the College Football Playoff, the revenue gap between the power conferences, non-power conferences and FCS level will only continue to grow. There’s plenty of good info in Schroeder’s story (again, read here), like how the power conferences won’t split away and form a new division — surprisingly enough due to a desire to not harm the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

For schools in the non-power conferences — your NIUs, UCFs, Fresno States — there still will be a seat at the table. But in the business of college football, there’s not much they’ll be able to do to keep up Alabama, Oregon, Ohio State and the like.

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3 Responses to “Expect power conferences to get more powerful in coming years”
  1. ratsfoiledagain says: Jan 15, 2014 11:28 AM

    Money is killing college athletics.

  2. Professor Fate says: Jan 15, 2014 12:05 PM

    It is long past time for those “power” conferences to be put in their own division. The remaining schools in Division I (I don’t bother trying to remember convoluted abbreviations like FBS, FCS, etc., any longer) should be called Division II, FCS should become Division III, etc., and thus be free of the yearly disappointment of being unable to compete with the “super” conferences.

    Baseball has many subdivisions after the majors (AAA, AA, A, Rookie, etc.) so there’s no reason CFB can’t do the same. A hundred and twenty five schools (with four more joining in 2015) is too many when you consider that something approaching a hundred of them have little chance of ever competing for that crystal football.

    Another solution would be to adopt a variation of the British Premier League’s relegation policy. Make the top five conferences the premier league and allow the remaining schools the chance to move up into them based on performance. Which conference they join, while relegating a poor-performing current conference member, would be based on geography. This would, of course, mean a complete overhaul that reduces the conference chancellors’ powers, but I see that as a huge positive.

    Another choice would be to abolish conferences entirely in favor of one super conference. Each team would be allowed to retain a couple of traditional rivalries and the rest of the schedule would be determined by the NCAA (or an independent entity since the NCAA tends to screw up almost everything it touches). This would not only make the top schools play regular season games against one another, but eliminate the cream-puff lower-tier teams from certain schools’ schedules (looking at you, SEC).

    I’m sure there are many other variations that deserve consideration, but the one thing that can be said is that the current system improves only incrementally on the now-defunct BCS (may it rest in controversy) by the simple fact that it does little to rectify the logjam 125 schools present. A four-team playoff is not going to end the yearly circus of fans (and teams) complaining that they got screwed in favor of teams with better exposure and/or influence.

    Putting the top five conferences in their own division would cut the number of teams in CFB’s premier class in half. Revamping scheduling would permit having a real playoff that would include more than four teams as well as forcing all teams to play against quality opponents rather than padding their won/loss records with patsies.

    If college football wants to be a top-tier sports attraction in this country, rivaling leagues like the NFL, NBA, and MLB, it needs to eliminate the current parochial, and biased, way it allows games to be scheduled and determines “champions.” Facing the simple fact that there are 62 teams in five conferences (with perhaps half of those entertaining a somewhat realistic chance of being a national champion) that are dominating the game and should be placed in their own division would be a huge step in that direction.

  3. musketmaniac says: Jan 16, 2014 3:28 PM

    money is killing college sports. the first acc raid on the bigeast was the beginning. I stated this five years ago, as expansion is killing college athletics. The only way to save it is moving forward. Six super conferences with sub divisions. four team conference playoffs with one spot going to the sub division. Example Big ten playoffs 2018 michigan vs ball state ohio stae vs nebraska. Ball st being the mac representive. 16 team conference with the last two spots revolving and sub division access to playoff. will give us a true national champion.

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