During Day 1 of SEC Media Days, Commissioner Mike Slive , who would be the most effective NCAA commissioner if he wouldn’t show so much favoritism to the SEC, but more likely will control a potential de facto organization of the Power 5 conferences behind the scenes when this possibly happens, had this message according to ESPN.com to open the gathering in Hoover, Alabama to send to Dr. Emmert, the puppet President of the NCAA: “If we do not achieve a positive outcome under the existing big tent of Division I, we will need to consider the establishment of a venue with similar conferences and institutions where we can enact the desired changes in the best interests of our student-athletes.”
Slive indicates the group including only the SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, ACC, PAC 12, and Notre Dame would make its own set of bylaws, offer full cost four-year scholarships, provide long term medical coverage, and consider other ideas currently being bandied about by the NCAA. Most of that sounds pretty good for the players. And why should these benefits be limited to these five conferences? However, we find it interesting that a major piece of autonomy that he doesn’t address is game scheduling.
Would the 65 teams of the five power conferences play only amongst themselves, or would Alabama still play Western Carolina to exchange a big pay day for a lopsided win? Will Auburn still host Samford? Or UT-Chattanooga? Or Furman? Will Florida host Eastern Kentucky? Georgia host Charleston Southern etc., etc.?
Do you mean that Arkansas may now schedule Rutgers since they are in the Big Ten, a conference among the five supposedly elite conferences? Oh wait a minute; The Scarlet Knights of the American Athletic Conference defeated these Razor backs the last two years! Florida could play Miami and Florida State for annual in-state rivalries! Oh wait, they lost to both of them last year. Georgia can play Clemson annually to continue their old rivalry. Oh, maybe they can extract revenge in Athens from last year this year. Let’s see, they already have Georgia Tech on their slate annually. They could play Colorado and Oklahoma State like they did in 2010 and 2009 respectively, but if they lose to both like they did then, that could be three or four losses before even playing in the SEC! Kentucky can play cross-state rival Louisville and eventually three others out of conference since the SEC will only play eight conference games among the SEC. What would the result be if all four non-conference games only be played among the five conferences with the autonomy? They lost to Louisville, but what would the final record be if they played Michigan State, Arizona, and maybe TCU as the other three all in one season? Two o those games would the to be played away. Tennessee lost at Oregon last year. Maybe they will beat the Sooners in Norman this year just like Alabama did in the Sugar Bowl. Oh wait, my mistake.
Man, if SEC teams can only play these power fivers during the regular season, there may be fewer SEC schools going to bowl games to share the profits. Three losses out of conference and four losses in conference make for an overall losing record. Are we going to see the criteria change for bowl games again? Four wins and you’re in? Why should anybody care to watch? Bowl games used to mean something special because they are supposed to be played by winners, not just to fill TV air time.
I wondered why Slive didn’t address autonomous regular season scheduling as part of his overall plan for the power five. Maybe he has to be sure how this autonomy will affect scheduling first. If the power five won’t share the money, it doesn’t seem to make much sense for the other conferences to share the playing field. Does it? As a matter of fact, it may be the best thing for the other teams from the “lesser” conferences in the long term. Let the cream of those teams rise to the top amongst them. And don’t listen to June Jones‘s idea about spring ball for the others. Grant the elite five autonomy, and let’s see who’s interested in a bunch of losing teams finally exposed during the regular season.
Things could get ugly for college football if this autonomy takes place from this perspective. I may just go back and enjoy going to FCS games where the playoff system they have already determines a national champion on the field. Did I mention that there are a lot fewer TV time-outs. too?