Greater Autonomy Poses Risks For Ohio State Athletics

By Nicholas Jervey on August 9, 2014 at 8:30a
What will autonomy bring for Ohio State? No one knows.

At a distance, autonomy might not benefit OSU.

44 Comments

In the last 48 hours, the world of college athletics has felt two gargantuan shocks – and Ohio State's place in that world doesn't look so permanent anymore.

The first shock was the NCAA's Division I Board of Directors voting to allow the Power 5 (P5) conferences – the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC – to practice autonomy. They would have more control over their own affairs, able to pass rules that would affect themselves only, like requiring scholarships to cover the full cost of attendance or provide more health care options.

For Ohio State, the decision is long overdue. Gene Smith has been clamoring for such a move for months, and the athletic department would love to have the leeway to provide full cost of attendance stipends to its athletes.

The second shock happened on Friday night, when Judge Claudia Wilken ruled in the Ed O'Bannon lawsuit that the NCAA violates antitrust law. She issued an injunction against the NCAA forbidding schools from offering players a share of revenue from their NIL (name, image and likeness) rights, or using licensing revenue to set up trusts for players upon leaving the university.

In combination, these events signal a shift in the way college athletics operates. Ohio State can take advantage of both events by supporting legislation to allow full cost of attendance scholarships and offering a licensing trust to its athletes. Even so, autonomy could present problems for Ohio State athletics.

The Great Divorce

In NCAA circles, the trend toward autonomy has been met with despair. John Infante of The Sporting News illustrates this trend:

Much will be said in the near future of how Division I was preserved, how the “big tent” is still intact, how this will provide stability and a foundation for the long-term. But if the people in Division I will not agree to keep up the pursuit of the ideal or even prop up that facade that all Division I athletes have a similar experience, the whole point of being one division is gone.

Sooner rather than later, Division I will be gone. [...] That day will be lamented as the end of Division I, but that will be like putting down an undead zombie. Today is the day that Division I as an idea, its soul, is well and truly dead.

Theatrics aside, Infante is right: this state is not workable in the long-term, and the P5 conferences are headed towards a split from Division I.

Outside the NCAA's confines, Ohio State could press its money advantage against the other 64 major schools. But is that a better outcome than staying in Division I?

In Division I, the Buckeyes do not have to pay its players beyond a scholarship and stipend (and may not have to for a while). The athletic department has total control over athletes' finances and eligibility while they're at the university, and the NCAA acts as a lightning rod to protect Ohio State from liability lawsuits. The athletic department is rolling in the dough; what more could it ask for?

Once separated from the fig leaf of NCAA amateurism, the P5 schools would likely be sued for illegal restriction of trade on the grounds that they are operating as a cartel. Ohio State would likely have to treat players as employees, pay salaries, negotiate and deal with all the other payroll issues. The Buckeyes could be as successful as they are now; unlike the status quo, it's not certain success.

Voting Gridlock

As long as autonomy is in effect, Ohio State is counting on sharing policy preferences with its P5 peers and passing more favorable legislation. Here's a mock-up the NCAA made of the new voting process:

Sensible enough.

It's a decent system with some drawbacks. Take the college baseball schedule. The Big Ten thinks starting the baseball season in February is stupid and is designed to put them at a competitive disadvantage, which it obviously does. The other major conferences think the Big Ten is a bunch of whiners.

As an equal member of Division I, Ohio State could propose a later starting date for the baseball season. This would be voted on by all kinds of schools, and the proposal could gain some support from lower-tier and northern schools. Among the P5 conferences, OSU (and by extension the Big Ten) would be thoroughly outvoted and laughed at. Conversely, if the other four conferences decided to pass legislation to declare August 9 "The Big Ten Is Weird Day", Big Ten schools do not have the votes to block it.

The autonomy structure is a lot like the United Nations Security Council. There are five permanent members that make decisions on everything, and anything controversial leads to gridlock. The current NCAA voting system is more like the UN General Assembly, which doesn't address vital issues but is at least equitable. The Buckeyes might prefer no changes at all over changes they dislike.

Dissolving Regional Ties

Even if the Big Ten hates OSU, Ohio State is enriched by its ties with them. The same goes for the smaller schools in the Buckeye State.

Ohio is unusual in that it has a dozen Division I programs and only one in a major conference. Nobody will ever challenge Ohio State's dominance, which means the relative importance of Ohio athletics will be diminished under autonomy. When the P5 schools split, Cincinnati will become roughly as irrelevant as Akron is now, and Akron will be as irrelevant as Youngstown State.

Losing the smaller Ohio schools might not bother OSU, but losing Big Ten schools would. Matt Hinton at Grantland writes that "The logical end of [autonomy]... is further consolidation into a single, coherently organized entity resembling a pro sports league, with the top 40 or so schools further culling the ranks until it’s no longer profitable to do so."

More than a third of the 65 P5 schools would have to be jettisoned to reach a top 40. That culling wouldn't remove Ohio State from power, but it might derail half of the Big Ten. Teams like Purdue or Wake Forest or Vanderbilt would have no place, and those are the easy discards.

The top half of the Big Ten (OSU, Michigan, Penn State, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Iowa) have a solid chance of making a top 40 cut. Everyone else in the Big Ten would be in a dogfight to stay relevant. And even if they did, they would have a hard time keeping up without cupcake games to prop up their records. What if they become a permanent drain on Ohio State's schedule, dragging down Ohio State's national championship chances like the Western Athletic Conference did to Boise State's?

Other Sports

Aside from other hypotheticals, like a split bringing the end of March Madness as we know it, the legal implications of autonomy are important. In Friday's O'Bannon ruling, Wilken spared member schools from the injunction she placed against the NCAA. In a world where the P5 splits from the NCAA, who knows what they'll have to do to comply with anti-trust law?

Autonomy might also a step on the path to abandoning low-revenue sports. Football and basketball provide most of the athletic revenue for the Buckeyes, and will even more so with autonomy. Low-revenue sports make easy targets; unless forced to do so by a judge or legislation, would OSU ever increase compensation to football or basketball players by taking money from their coaches' salaries or cutting a sport?

Risk And Reward

Autonomy has its pluses. No longer does Ohio State have to carry an overstuffed compliance department or report dozens of ticky-tack secondary violations. Ohio State can stop worrying about pointless, extraneous procedure and finally hew away from the NCAA's farcical idea of amateurism.

Autonomy is still risky. It changes the status quo, which favors the Buckeyes. Ohio State could get outvoted on important issues, and if the push for autonomy is just a naked cash grab, it could irreparably damage college athletics. Again, Matt Hinton:

Is that kind of upward mobility important to the fabric of college sports, part of what separates them from the year-to-year uniformity of the pros? Is it still possible to maintain when the wealthiest organizations can set their own rules and erect their own barriers to entry? If so, it’s not clear that anyone cares. And even if they do, it’s too late to turn back now.

It might still be worthwhile to chase autonomy and even a separation from the NCAA, but the long-term consequences could be harmful. The athletic department cannot afford to make the decision blind.

44 Comments

Comments

dubjayfootball90's picture

There is so much change about to happen. And by about, I mean over the next few/several years. Frankly, I am a bit scared, more worried, to see what is going to happen and where football, even college athletics in general, is going to end up.

You can feed a bobcat all the chili it wants. That don't mean it's going to crap out diamonds.

+15 HS
GlueFingers Lavelli's picture

I'm with you. The money is going to destroy the game. It's very scary.  tOSU aside, people need to think about what truly makes college football great. They are heading towards a professional model. It's bad enough they want to change the way the game is played (tackling). Whenever there becomes a huge interest, the greed takes over. Someone's job is to find a way how to get more. More viewers. In doing so they try to change the game to reach more people. The sport isn't for everyone, but try to tell that to a network exec or Roger Goodell.

Dustin Fox was our leading tackler as a corner.... because his guy always caught the ball.

+11 HS
osu407's picture

If the power 5 structure remains as it proposed in the "How autonomy could work" graphic, I could imagine conferences (particularly the Big 12) snatching up schools like Cincinnati in an attempt to have a larger voice in the government.  Maybe bringing in borderline schools like them would lead to the consolidation speculated about, but if not it could become a race to expand your conference until a maximum number of schools allowed rule is passed.

+7 HS
DaBuckMD's picture

That would need to be balanced against the financial return on bringing in those schools.  You don't want to dilute the conference payouts too much or it could make the league vulnerable to poaching from other conferences.  The conference penalties for leaving may be somewhat of a deterrent, but Maryland just proved there is a right price to leave for a better financial future.  I wonder if the more likely scenario is consolidation between some of the conferences to maximize power -- ex. SEC & ACC.  Scary thought.

+1 HS
MarkC's picture

How many schools outside the Power 5 would be willing to accept a disadvantageous deal similar to Iowa State and Baylor in the mid-2000's Big XII? (Essentially, where the % of conference payout is based on national TV appearances) Schools like Cincinnati, UConn, and Houston might agree to basically any terms necessary to be allowed to participate.

Second, there would likely be deep politics at play in any voting measure. The SEC and ACC wound not have to merge to form a voting bloc similar to the UN during the Cold War.

JohnnyKozmo's picture

It's going to be very interesting to see what happens moving forward.  Not sure how many others remember the College Football Game that was on Sega Genesis (not Bill Walsh, think it was just called College Football-it was out when Eddie George was on the team, because I remember running him every play), but there were only 32 teams available to play as or against.  Needless to say, schedules were loaded with marquee matchups.  It's almost sounding like Division 1 (or whatever it will be called), would be very similar to the NFL, with competitive games week in and week out, and a lot fewer 70-0 final scores.

One idea to keep the small schools relevant, would be to play them in the preseason, and still pay them to come to play at the 'Shoe.  Stats and results wouldn't count, but this way, you still get the tune up live game experience, and the smaller schools continue to get the much needed money they need to fund their athetics.  Starters would play a quarter or a half, and then backups would get much needed in game reps.

+3 HS
FROMTHE18's picture

so Purdue/Northwestern is now a "marquee" matchup? Kentucky/Syracuse? the list goes on and on. Some "small" or mid-major programs are better than a handful of programs in the Big 5. I mean is Cincinnati really a mid-major program? I don't think so, but since they are outside of the Big 5, they are considered to be. Sure, there might be less 70-0 scores, but OSU beat Penn State 63-14 last year…its not 70-0, but its pretty damn close. There will still be blowouts, and there wont be marquee match ups each week. In theory, you'd expect the level of competition to improve as the Purdue's of the world can sell the 3 star guys who may go to the MAC on the idea that they play in a Big 5 conference, but I don't see it happening. 

JohnnyKozmo's picture

Purdue, Northwestern, Kentucky, Syracuse are not marquee matchups.  That's my point in referencing that video game with only 32 schools.  It only included the top programs across the country (basically the top 3-5 from each major conference, when there were more conferences).  I agree, a team like Cincinnati deserves a seat at the table more so than some of the bottom feeders in the Power Conferences.  And yes, there will still be blowouts, like PSU last year.  But at least I won't feel guilty watching them, since they are a major school, not like a FAMU or Savannah St.  I would love tOSU to stomp everyone, but it's a little uneasy to watch it against a team that shouldn't even be in the same stadium for an official game.  Bring them in for a preseason game/scrimmage.

VintonCountyBuck's picture

I've thought this way for a long time.

Why not play the smaller schools in the spring or in pre-season match ups?  Treat them as a tune-up for the real season while still allowing them to get their pay day.  It lets the younger Buckeyes earn some much needed game experience and weed out the potential starters.  Kind of like a JV squad in high school.

“Right now, Michigan is not at the pinnacle of college football, and that’s all Urban Meyer cares about...He’s been there and knows what it takes to get there.” 

IBLEEDSCARLETANDGRAY's picture

What I definitely don't want to see is Ohio State decide to remain under protection of the "Division I" while everyone else does the autonomy thing. It would be like OSU got demoted to AAA ball. Some may argue B1G football as a whole deserves that but what about hoops where it currently has the best conference? Makes the idea of leaving the B1G all the more necessary. Bad news is it could jeopardize The Game. 

"Sherman ran an option play right through the south" - Greatest Civil War analogy EVER.

+1 HS
rosycheeks's picture

The greed here on everyone's side is inevitable but disappointing. Some kids will win with whatever comes next, but some will lose. It will not be a utopia. And I'll lose a little bit more of my childhood.

+6 HS
Buckeyeneer's picture

Agreed. I feel that this will help the star players. Most players will see a little bump.

"Because the rules won't let you go for three." - Woody Hayes

THE Ohio State University

+1 HS
ibuck's picture

"but some [players] will lose:: Some sports will be eliminated and some coverage (TV, radio, internet) including box scores, could be eliminated because the players would have to be compensated if their names, images or likenesses were displayed. If this stands, hockey, women's softball, synchronized swimming, etc would become unreported.

Our courts or legislators may have to act if most college sports are to be saved.  Even that may not save football if Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is found to be caused by repeated small hits rather than obvious concussions, as some predict it will.

Our honor defend, we will fight to the end !

If you can't win your conference, just quietly accept your non-playoff bowl game.

GlueFingers Lavelli's picture

I don't pretend to fully understand legal speak, but I do feel like this is all going the wrong direction. I feel like what makes College Football special and separates it from the NFL is the amateurism aspect. It's more territorial and there is so much more pride and passion involved. It scares me to think the one sport I care about more than anything could be possibly destroyed or altered in a way that makes it anything less than it is today.  Count me in the crowd that is all for the stipend and keeping things similar to how they are. I'm all for a kid being able to sign autographs to make a little cash, I'm all for these guys have guaranteed scholarships, and I most certainly believe they all deserve medical benefits as well.  The value of a free education can't be overlooked though. What the power 5 conferences aren't looking at is simple IMO.  Someone has to lose. Not everyone in a P5 conference is safe. Eventually you will have teams getting booted for loss of revenue due to being bottom feeders. When they can't produce over time then what?  Do we just keep adjusting the size of the division or league? It all seems ridiculous to me.

The only thing wrong with major college athletics is that it's become a full time job to the student without financial backing aside from the education. They can't go work a job, so compensate them fairly. How hard is that? breaking up the conferences to stomp out the little guy is just going to make things worse in the long haul. What makes college football so great is that it's everywhere.... it's not just in 32 cities, its all over the country. I cannot understand why anyone would want to change that. To me that's why College Football has become so popular over the past few decades.

Is anyone else terrified that this is going to destroy college football? I guess it's our fault for making the sport so popular. I feel like College Football will go down the same sad way many things do in our country.... too much money involved.

Dustin Fox was our leading tackler as a corner.... because his guy always caught the ball.

+8 HS
c92996p's picture

You nailed it on the head.  What makes college football, and every other college sport special, is that athletes are driven by pride and passion instead of money (think Aaron Craft as opposed to Jadeveon Clowney). The only thing that compares is the Olympics.

However, at the end of the day, money always wins.  Many programs will end up losing big, but those at the top will only get more powerful.  Such is the nature of capitalism.  

+6 HS
swainpm's picture

There is a chance for everything to be OK. As long as the non P5 schools continue to play the P5 in a D1 format. Unfortunately, I don't see this happening for long. Why would non P5 schools want to play schools who will inevitably have much better recruits/coaches? They won't want to do so, and will pull out and create their own division. This scenario actually just played itself out in Oklahoma HS football. Large HS with 6500 students that dominate HS athletics (bc the cities refuse to create 2 or 3 HS thus diluting their talent pool) were abandoned by the rest of the HS in their Div 6A. The other HS were sick of seeing the large HS dominate championships over the last 32 years. They demanded the large HS breakup into smaller HS, and when they were refused the smaller HS refused to schedule the larger HS. There will now be a super div 6 and a lower div 6 (all according to my OK client). The point is the current model is unsustainable.

+1 HS
GoBucksOSU's picture

I think the difference though is that those Oklahoma high schools were trying to compete for championships while non-power conferences in Div 1 college football pretty much accept they can't win championships. A MAC team's chance of beating a top tier team in the power 5 conferences was just as little under the old system as it is now under autonomy.

Buckeyeneer's picture

I'm nervous for the future of college sports. I hope that this change makes things better but there are often unintended consequences.

"Because the rules won't let you go for three." - Woody Hayes

THE Ohio State University

+4 HS
Poison nuts's picture

I knew the day was coming when people got exactly what they wished for. I was starting to get a sick feeling reading this piece, as a realization crept in that this could forever change the sports &  the school that I love so dearly. I think that most of us, whether we'd admit it or not, enjoy college related sports because of idea of "amateurism" is still appealing. Young people willing to trade out their athletic ability in order to gain an education is appealing. People who do what they do for the love of the activity, despite what anyone who writes for this site or any other sports outlet says, is appealing. Should there be additional financial considerations for those who are generating millions in TV revenue or apparel revenue - yes, absolutely! Should this turn into agents hanging around high school gyms, looking to sign the 15 yr old phenom, which in turn creates kids who seek only financial gain & nothing more - I hope not. 

I was/am for a change in the system that allowed players to receive a full costs of scholarship, increased medical benefits, costs of living, and for individual players to have the ability to profit from the use of there own images/likenesses - which is completely fair. I hope those things can happen...but I hate the notion of full on professional sports on a college level. Agents, schools outwardly paying players large contracts, high school kids choosing a school based solely on how much money they'll get...the thought makes me cringe. There is something to be said for a college education. There is something to be said for a kid considering a school based what it could do for you during a post-sports career. I wonder where this is all going, but I know for certain it has the potential to be a situation where people got what they wished for, and it all went to shit. I guess I'll hope for the best & prepare for the worst.

Edit: when I started writing this post,there was only one comment. I'm glad to see others see this thing the same way.

"Do not pass me, just slow down - I can move right through you" Superchunk - Precision Auto.

+8 HS
Myc24's picture

So, the epitaph for college football should read 1869-2014? 

I'm all for the players getting full cost if attendance and such, but the changes that seem to be coming down the pipeline don't appear to be sustainable or good for college athletics (let alone the individual sports).

Let's just hope we're wrong. 

"Because I couldn't go for three!"  - Wayne Woodrow Hayes

+6 HS
RBuck's picture

The mid-majors are now dead...and I hate that.

"It's just another case of there you are". ~ Doc (1918-2012)

+7 HS
GlueFingers Lavelli's picture

That's a huge problem. A part of what makes the sport are the monumental upsets. When the little guy is better prepared and coached despite having less of seemingly everything else. Think Appy St.-Michigan, Boise St over Oklahoma, North Dakota State upsetting Kansas State last year.... Those games makeup the college landscape. Those are what grab everyone's attention, When you see Florida lose to Georgia Southern it paralyzes you. It's not even just seeing it on a ticker, it's the possibility of it happening that makes the hair stand up on your arms. When I watched Akron on that final drive against Michigan I got the same feeling I got in 2007 when they were upset. It's that feeling....  Losing that tarnishes everything about the sport.

The NCAA did most of this to themselves. They could have slowly adjusted with the times and we could still have the good old fashioned model with modifications and tweaks to keep it up to date and still be fair. They sat around too long and this is the result. They bluffed for a long time in a dick waving contest, and they got called on it. It's sad for the fans like all of us who are why it became so popular in the first place.

Dustin Fox was our leading tackler as a corner.... because his guy always caught the ball.

+8 HS
southernstatesbuckeye's picture

The End is upon us.  Prepare for the Apocalypse.

But please, let's get a national championship first, ok?

+2 HS
allinosu's picture

The big will eat the small not only by team but athlete. One day the more gifted will get everything while rest get crumbs or nothing. They will have agents and want trades to the highest bidder. The total number of scholarship athletes will dwindle to only the money sports.

+3 HS
Buckeye-in-pitt's picture

I don't really care about autonomy or what the p5's can or can't do. I just want to see competitive college sports. And if this is suppose to make thing easier or more fair for the NCAA and the athletic departments, then I'm all about it. 

-1 HS
AndyVance's picture

The death knell has tolled.

+3 HS
Buckeye in Illini country's picture

One of my biggest concerns is the non-revenue sports.  Will scholarships still be given to the wrestling team, ice hockey, or swimming?  It's too early on Saturday (I know it's almost 11am CT, but I am hungover a little bit) to analyze what will happen to those sports.  I love watching the wrestling team, tennis team, or volleyball teams on BTN.

Columbus to Pasadena: 35 hours.  We're on a road trip through the desert looking for strippers and cocaine... and Rose Bowl wins!

M Man's picture

I'm so glad to see the near-unanimity on this issue.  Loaded with unintended consequences, this is the exact wrong path for the future of all college athletics.  Particularly interesting is to see all of the discontent in Ann Arbor and Columbus, where everybody ought to feel secure in making the cut towards joining the "NFL Lite."  As if that were so secure.

As for the Ed O'Bannon lawsuit.  I hated that cause of action, but I have at least some sympathy in this regard; before blaming plaintiffs like O'Bannon, I'll first blame the NCAA marketers for selling likenesses of real players to video game producers.  That was the original sin.

In all of this, the solution is not to continue to make college football more and more like the NFL, and simply figure out a means of revenue-sharing.  No; the solution is the opposite.  Make college football less and less like the NFL, so that revenue sharing is irrelevant.

+6 HS
labuck's picture

This is not good. I certainly do not trust athletic directors to come up with good policies to govern their Sports. Half of them have shown to be incompetent and only out for their own good. Coaches always talk about player welfare but I don't truly think the administration cares about that st all. My guess is that most schools will have 8-12 Sports they fund and the rest will become clubs sports.

+1 HS
PasadenaBuckeye626's picture

I'm very skeptical.  These big changes in college athletics are usually at the expense of smaller sports. 

Ex: Men's volleyball has 23 teams.  They have a top 20 ranking, and then 3 teams get left out.  It's pretty sad.

Go Bucks!

+2 HS
Shangheyed's picture

Change should be gradual make sure things don't get to crazy... some of the ideas can do real damage to college sports.  Some simple changes first, the NCAA has an opportunity to make vast improvements to its regulations.  The rulings will help force postive change... I just hope they do not go too far.

+2 HS
BuckGnome's picture

I hear you, but they may not have a choice.

Remy's picture

Looking in my crystal ball I can see the Power 5 eventually getting to 20 teams in each conference. 100 teams total.

Each conference (20 teams) will have 2 divisions (10 teams each). The teams will play every team in their division to get a division champion (9 games). The division champs will play in the conference championship game.

Conference champions will automatically qualify for the 8 team playoff. That will leave 3 playoff spots for the "best deserving" of the non-conference champs.

"I'm sick of following my dreams. I'm just going to ask them where they're goin', and hook up with them later." ~ Mitch Hedberg

+1 HS
Frimmel's picture

I'd like to join the chorus saying this is not a good thing. I have a very difficult time finding any bright light in this.

+2 HS
sixtiesbuck's picture

I would hope that finances would not be a reason to not pay players; TOSU has more athletic $ than almost all programs, much of it from football

oldmanbuck

sixtiesbuck's picture

The power 5 would be fools not to keep the NCAA BB tournament the way it is. I believe viewership would drop. Sure, many people watch just because of the level of play and the format; also, fans of particular schools will watch. But a huge # of people watch only the NCAA's, often because of the possible upset nature. I know there are people who hated Butler's run, but I'll bet they watched anyway. Many fans watch because of events like that.

oldmanbuck

741's picture

I am not in the "sky is falling" camp. There are many positives that can come from autonomy. A little more common sense control over their finances and governance (to benefit the student-athletes) is a good thing. It's not necessarily the wild west all of a sudden.

+1 HS
Patriot4098's picture

Money has been the goal for quite some time now. Unfortunately, the infrastructure is now set for it to completely swallow the industry.

"Evil shenanigans!"     - Mac

dabuckeyemike's picture

One of the things I could see happening is a lot of the lower star recruits coming to P5 team and since they won't be paid as much as a higher rated recruit they might not get to see the field because of the pressure to play a higher paid player and you might not get to see the a.j. hawks or Laurinaitis'so or some of the other great non highly touted recruits that have blossomed into some of the most memorable players in the lore of all college football.
What makes cfb so great is the pride that all players and fans take in their favorite teams. You see it in the NFL but not nearly what you see in college football.

Bellevue Buckeye. the Most Important Play Of The Game Is Punt.

+1 HS
MAVBuck's picture

God help us, we've seen the end of college athletics as it stands today.

northcampus's picture

Woody said years ago that TV would eventually ruin the game.  It would be interesting to hear his take on what just occurred.

The biggest issue I have with what just occurred is the impact on the non-power 5 schools, specifically in Ohio.  I've grown up following friends or family who have played at Ohio State, as well as many of the smaller Ohio schools (Miami, UC, Ohio, Kent, UD, etc.) and while those who played at the smaller schools were usually at a disadvantage, they always had at least a fighting chance.  Not so much any longer.

+1 HS
Deano's picture

I'll join the nervous camp.

I keep hearing that the NCAA has a huge image problem.  Although many sports fans might think the NCAA is screwing over its players, I don't think too many potential fans are boycotting college sports over this feeling.  I might (to be clear, I don't - different topic) feel that Braxton Miller is getting a raw deal - he deserved to get paid more.  I might think that fourth-string DE who never even cracked special teams duty on Purdue's team got a raw deal - he deserved to get paid more.  I'm still watching the game and just saying, "this isn't fair to those guys.  Now go score a touchdown!"

The players are getting screwed / NCAA rules are stupid / enforcement is arbitrary image problems don't seem to be upsetting fans enough to keep them from watching.  My mid-tier school not being invited to the party is way more off-putting.  My power conference bottom-feeder being kicked to the curb is way more off-putting.  That a different conference is kicking out a program I don't care about (SEC-Wake Forest for example) is more off-putting than what we have now.

I'm pretty sure with all this autonomy they'll figure out that TEHPLAYOFZ are where the big money is at.  So let's have a 16 team playoff and the top 25% of our teams get in.  Who cares that you went 8-4 and lost to the three best teams you played?  When you are playing Stanford Football you can beat anybody.  Why exclude you from TEHPLAYOFZ?

(In case the intent of the last paragraph is too hidden - All of Columbus watching Baylor play Oklahoma State because we really need Baylor to lose is good for ratings, money, and CFB as a whole.  Ohio State fans knowing all they have to do is win 1 out of their last 3 and they'll still get into the playoffs is bad for ratings, money and CFB).

The David vs. Goliath narrative is huge in college sports.  So let's just go ahead and pre-slay all of the Davids.

I've heard pro-change (in general, not necessarily this issue) cite the saying "In order to make an omelette, you've got to break some eggs."  My reply is always "If I put a monkey in a kitchen with a dozen eggs, an onion, a green pepper, and some ham, how many Denver omelettes do you think he's going to make?  My money is he throws some poop on the walls and then uses the frying pan to break all the cabinets."

So many more ways to do this wrong than right.  What reason do I have to think that those in charge will find the right path?  

BuckeyeRef's picture

Good article but at this point everything is really speculation. There are more questions than answers. Ultimately, every school in the Power 5 is going to "protect their interests" and I'm not so sure that will be a good thing. Usually that means a few marquee programs, like Ohio State, will dictate what the other Power 5 schools can and cannot do.

Go Bucks!!!!

+1 HS
jmoore3309's picture

As usual, money tends to corrupt everything.   The thing that always confused me, was how much change that the media and certain segments of fans wanted from what was clearly a popular sport.  Normally such radical change is reserved for failing enterprises.  In the 70's, you could only be on TV once, maybe twice a year.  Wait you mean we can make more money if certain teams are on more, no problem.  In the 80's we had an explosion of TV and bowls.  But bowls sucked, they left us without a true national champion.  We need a way to pit one versus two.  Good bye Rose Bowl,  we now need to focus on the BCS and getting to the only game that mattered.  Now success could only be defined by one measuring stick.  But the money was now flowing and there was no going back.  Pandora was out of the box and the tail in some cases was waging the dog.

College football teams are an extension of the university and part of the fabric and culture of the whole college experience.  It should NOT simply be an entity established simply to serve as a minor league system for the NFL. 

I think that this decision is going to bring an end to the game I grew up loving.  The BIG Is now aligned with five conferences, three of which has a very different set of priorities that we do.  The PAC and the BIG will find themselves on the losing end of many of the decisions to come.  Schools in the SEC and points south see the college athlete through a very narrow focus.  For the BIG and the PAC to keep up, my fear is that money will need to be syphoned from the Olympic non revenue sports and this hurts the opportunity form many kids to get the help they might need to afford college.

I remember listening to a sports radio program one day in Cleveland and the topic was money in sports.  The caller made a comment along the lines of when he was a kid, the Indians and Browns players lived in his neighborhood and were a part of the community, now they live in gated communities and only come to town for practice or games.  When I went to OSU, the football and basketball players went to class with us, went to the bars with us and in some cases were our friends.  What does the future hold.  Will they even still be part of the university, or simply mercenaries for hire.  Pay for play visitors who simply show up for practice and games and they bolt for the NFL as soon as able.

Go Bucks!