It’s been a tumultuous off-season.
There have been NCAA sanctions and investigations, conference realignments, players suspended and denied waivers, plus a school going independent–and veiled threats of more to follow.
This all leads me to believe that the power structures currently governing college football–the conferences and the NCAA–are living on borrowed time.
BYU is now independent. Conferences are being shook loose from their moorings, with the Big 12 getting scavenged, the WAC and MWC decimated and the Big Ten splitting traditional rivals Ohio State and Michigan into opposing divisions.
It seems everyone wants a TV network and/or a conference championship game at the end of the season. Network coverage of college football looks to be on its last legs. The slide toward a de facto playoff appears inevitable.
Meanwhile, the NCAA’s corrupt and cynical nature is being exposed on a daily basis. Its ticket scandals, conflicts of interest and blatant disregard for its own rules and bylaws has opened the eyes of many a fan, coach and university president.
What’s bound to happen is that, one day, the major schools currently making most of the money–I’m talking Oklahoma, Texas, USC, Notre Dame, Florida, Alabama, etc.–are going to band together and decide that they don’t need the NCAA, or the conferences. They’ll go independent and form their own coalition, with their own rules. And what can the NCAA do about that? Nothing.
I think that however it all shakes down–and it will take some time–we’ll look back on the summer of 2010 as the year the cracks in the NCAA edifice started to show. It’s no coincidence, by the way, that this all happened concurrently with the Great Recession (Depression?), with financial pressures and worry over future revenue governing these very sudden moves.
This may be one of the last college football seasons to still hearken back to the old traditions. Enjoy it while you can.