Beating up the FBS — again

By Tom Donelson, BASN Staff Reporter
Updated: December 20, 2010

IOWA CITY (BASN) — I love college football, but in looking at Division I-A (or FBS), one can only see a sport in transition and chaos.

The sport is in transition as major powers look to change conferences for monetary advantages while leaving a have and have not system.

For the past several years, the NCAA FBS division built a system in which certain conferences were excluded from a national championship since they were not part of the “big boy” conference.

This system started to break down last year when certain of the have not conference chose not to cooperate as schools such as TCU, Utah and Boise State decided to upgrade their program to compete with big boys.

Over the past few years,these teams handed traditional powers just as Alabama and Oklahoma their scalps in key bowl games. The Mountain West and Western Athlete Conference soon found themselves a conference as good as some of the major conferences.

This year, it could easily be argued that the best teams in the Mountain West and Western Athlete conference would easily be the best in the Big East and ACC, even competitive with the best of the Big 12.

While over the past two years, Boise State and TCU nearly made it to the big Game but they fell short not on the football field but in polls.

Soon TCU will move to the Big East so they can be eligible for the big Game and Boise State, Fresno State and Nevada will move to Mountain West while Utah takes their program to the Pac-10.

The Big Ten has added Nebraska to their league and added their own playoffs to compete with the SEC, ACC and Big 12 who have their own championship game, a game that adds big buck to their conference.

The NCAA has allowed big time football to take control of athletic department while threatening other sports. In the recent year, the Big 12 nearly imploded and basketball powers like Kansas nearly found themselves with no conferences to play in along with their football schools.

Football for the big boys have become big money factory and college presidents have allowed their teams to become farm systems for the NFL while big time coaches make millions in salaries, salaries competitive to the professional ranks.

Alabama’s Nick Saban is making as much as he did coaching the Miami Dolphins only he has more control over his players than he would ever have in the professional ranks and easier time to build a traditional power.

While nearly 60% of the major college football programs make money, the other 40% don’t and on top of that, the majority of major college athlete departments lose money even though their football teams make the big bucks.

This put a lie that Football subsidizes other sports.

The have-not can’t compete with the haves when it comes to recruiting since they can’t develop the big facilities needed to attract leading recruits nor can they pay good coaches big money to either keep them or attract them in the first place.

As I mention in past columns, the NCAA needed to eliminate automatic bids to the big bowls since this not only eliminates schools from the wrong conferences from getting bigger bucks from the bigger games, but it also rewards the weaker big boy conferences with automatic access to the big bucks.

One reason that TCU is leaving the Mountain West and move to the Big East; the Big East has an automatic bid to a major conference whereas TCU presently does not.

Boise State is playing in some bow game in Las Vegas while Connecticut is playing in the Fiesta Bowl despite being a mediocre 8-4 team in a very weak conference.

Boise State is playing Utah, which won at Pitt early this year. Both teams deserve bigger games to showcase their talent but are denied due to the FBS rules.)

If the NCAA is interested in balance, they need to make changes. The first will be to further limit scholarships so talent can be more disperse plus dare I say it, adopt what the NFL have done, set a limit to what a program can spend.

Limiting scholarship will reduce price but reducing overall cost will allow smaller program within the FBS to be more competitive.

The NCAA and college presidents will have to ask, should their football team reflect the best of academic or be a mere professional appendage of the NFL. Right now, they are the latter.