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2014 – A Historic Year for SEC and College Football?

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                                                                                                                      (photo:Mark Gentry,USAToday)
If you didn’t get a chance to see SEC Commissioner Mike Slive’s opening remarks at SEC Media Days, you missed what is probably the most important news that will come out of the Hoover meetings this year. Commissioner Slive said 2014 was going to be “a historic year” for the conference.

He wasn’t talking about more success on the courts or on the gridiron. For sure he spent some time going over the usual litany of success stories the conference has enjoyed in recent years. But it was Slive’s harden stance on autonomy for the so called Power Five Conferences that was the significant news.

The Commissioner reiterated the position he took in the league’s June meetings that if the NCAA fails to grant the Big Five their wishes, he and his fellow commissioners are prepared to secede and start a new collegiate governing body.

In an apparent reference to the Ed O’Bannin case and the Northwestern NLRB decision, Slive said, “We are not deaf to the din of discontent across collegiate athletics that has dominated the news.” He said the NCAA “must be willing to make appropriate changes.” Translation – give the Power Five conferences autonomy to make their own rules (The Power Five includes the SEC, Big 10, Pac 12, Big 12, and the ACC).

What is significant is Slive’s apparent confidence that the NCAA’s steering committee will pass the recommendation when it votes on the demands-request in August. The Commissioner said:

“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.” He added, “I think when push comes to shove, it will pass.”

Mike Slive is widely recognized as the most influential commissioner in college athletics and when he talks (just like the old EF Hutton commercials) people listen. So it’s almost a certainty that there will be a new separate division for the Power Five. And that’s why 2014 will be a historic year in collegiate athletics.

Once that takes place it will open the door for everything those conferences may wish to pass  – full cost of attendance scholarships (which is a synonym for paying athletes) transfer rules, increasing the number of scholarships and a host of other things. In reality there will not be anything the five can’t consider when it comes to reforming the rules they presently operate under. It will be historic alright.

Maybe this is what it will take to get the kind of reform so long needed with the bureaucracy of the NCAA. Yet there are those that have complained in recent years about the disparity between the have’s and the have not’s of college football. Such a move, in the short run, may well widen that gap. However, The restructuring could also be the first step in reforming all of the NCAA from top to bottom.

And if that happens, it could in the long run, be the best thing for college athletics since Walter Camp revised the rules of the game in the early 1880s.

9 Comments

  1. Pine Mt Tiger Pine Mt Tiger says:

    Slive and the other four are playing a high stakes game of poker. Question is does the NCAA no when to hold ‘em, no when to fold ‘em and no when to walk away? Although the Big 5 has threatened to walk, it’s hard to believe the NCAA will give them a blank check to do what they please. It’s going to be interesting.

  2. KungFuPanda9 KungFuPanda9 says:

    The NCAA is charged with enforcing rules that attempt to create a sense of equality and fair play. The problem is that the 124 teams under the NCAA umbrella are not equal in terms of finances, prestige, quality of facilities, and quality of education. New Mexico will never be able to compete with Notre Dame on any level (except for that awesome rocket sled where Mythbusters vaporized a car).

    Attempting to level the playing field is no longer fair to those at the top who can do more for student athletes in terms of quality, nor for those at the bottom who cannot afford to increase the benefits to players. We are at a fork in the road as far as what the NCAA can do equally for all 124 teams.

    That is why I am a proponent of the Olympic model wherein athletes are responsible for getting their own endorsement deals from a wide variety of sources. However, it is paramount that players do not receive any money from the institutions for which they play. The scholarship is the only deal between the player and the school. That is the fairest solution for all 124 schools because it leaves it up to individuals to negotiate contracts with third parties and not encroach on the student/university contract, i.e., scholarship.

    • uglyjoe says:

      With all due respect, how would you ever enforce that model? Any booster that wanted to funnel money to an athlete as an incentive to attend a particular school would just arrange to sponsor them through a participating company or other entity.

      • KungFuPanda9 KungFuPanda9 says:

        UglyJoe, boosters would be allowed to make those kinds of financial arrangements. At first it looks unfair or illegal. But on the contrary, smaller school athletes will actually see some financial remuneration from this model.

        For example, there is a bitter rivalry between Boise State and Idaho. Nobody in the other 49 states cares who plays for Idaho. But the local people want to beat Boise State. Rich boosters would be willing to send money to a kid to get him for Idaho, or just to prevent Boise State from getting him. The schools are not on the hook for the money. Who cares what the boosters spend?

        • uglyjoe says:

          All I know is that I’m smart enough to know that I’m not smart enough to know. How’s that for a cop out?

      • wpleagle says:

        It’s actually a pretty damn good philosophy. There’s nothing worse than trying to watch some dumkopf bluff his or her way through something they don’t know squat about!

  3. Mike Mike says:

    What happens with the “cupcake” games when the teams are associated with different governing bodies? What rules do we play with on the field? You’ve got different rules D1/D2/D3 and NFL/CFL/etc. Would this eliminate the cross division games?

    • AubTigerman AubTigerman says:

      Good question Mike. No one knows for certain the answer to that question. Although there is already pressure to drop the cupcakes, which I view as not good for the sport in general since it will hurt their financial resources to continue their programs. I also think you need a break from the murderous SEC schedule. But many are of a different opinion.

  4. [...] the NCAA in a game of chicken and the NCAA blinked. Speaking at the opening of the media event, Slive reiterated the Big 5 Power Conferences’ threat to break a way from the NCAA and start a new collegiate [...]