Friday, August 8, 2014

The Power Five

So last year, Team A had a home football schedule of Norfolk State, Eastern Michigan, Arkansas, Houston, Temple, Cincinnati and South Florida. Go back a year earlier, and it was Howard, UConn, Army, Syracuse, Kent State and Louisville.

This year?

Team A has a home football schedule of Howard, Penn State, Tulane, Michigan, Wisconsin and Indiana. You can throw in road trips to places like Ohio State, Michigan State, Nebraska and Maryland.

Time to step up to the plate, Rutgers.

The State University of New Jersey is as big a winner as there is the conference realignment game. Rutgers went from what was left of Big East football to the American Athletic Conference to the Big Ten.

As TigerBlog has said before, very few schools can say that they chased all the football money while also making the best possible decision for an academic purpose at the same time, but Rutgers definitely can. Other than the fact that the Big Ten used to be a strictly Midwest league, Rutgers is a perfect fit - a giant state university with strong academics and research.

Of course, if you're like TigerBlog's friend Corey, a Rutgers alum and loyal longtime football season ticket holder, then you are mostly interested in the fact that Michigan, Penn State and Wisconsin are coming to the Banks of the Raritan.

For some reason, that makes TB think of the solicitations he gets from Penn for alumni donations, and they're always talking about how much the academic standing of the University has improved in the last few decades. They might as well say, TB supposes, that "the school is way too good now to take someone like you anymore," but he tries not to get offended.

Anyway, Rutgers went from rich, to richer to richest in a three-year span. Then, in one more day, it went to "so rich the rules no longer apply."

In case you missed it, the NCAA Board of Directors voted yesterday to allow the so-called "Power 5" conferences - the Pac-12, the Big Ten, the SEC, the ACC and the Big 12 - to essentially play by a different set of rules than the rest of Division I.

And by "different," TigerBlog means "more expensive." Way more expensive.

And not just expensive. The new rules mean there won't be any rules, or at least rules that apply to everyone else.

Well, that's not quite accurate.

And Five Conferences? Sounds a bit like "Five Families," no? 

As TigerBlog understands it, the 65 schools in those five conferences can make rules that supersede NCAA rules in some areas but not all. And these rules apply to all sports, not just football, so all of the rules of Title IX still apply.

There are things that these schools cannot do. They cannot decide to practice for 40 hours a week or have their players not go to school or simply pay them to play.

They can give additional stipends well above what the NCAA currently allows, and they can also do all kinds of other things that don't really impact the basic model of college athletics - athletes who are also students - but dress it up in really extravagant ways that other schools can't afford.

The five conferences can't simply go off and start doing whatever they want. They have to create their own set of rules, agreed to by four of the five conferences. Once these rules are passed, the rest of Division I can vote to approve them as well if they wish; it's just that they'd never be able to afford to do them.

For instance, the five conferences can agree on a rule saying that they will pay for unlimited travel for their athletes between school and home. Or they will buy their athletes suits or other formal wear. Or they will have athlete-only dorms with round-the-clock unlimited food service, like on a cruise ship.

How does this affect Princeton? It doesn't. Not really. Princeton's main selling point will never be its athletic dorms.

The schools most affected will be the Mountain West type schools, or UConn, which is still in the AAC. Those schools will not be able to match the Power Five dollar for dollar, and TB can see recruits bailing on those schools in favor of all the accessories.

And of course, there is the movement to have the Power Five only play other Power Five schools in football, which would really impact scheduling.

The real reason that the rest of D-I is going along with this is because there's no alternative. The Power Five bring in more money than anyone could ever count, and they don't want Princeton and, to use yesterday's randomly chosen school again, Sacred Heart telling them how to spend it. If this didn't pass, those schools would have left the NCAA, destroying the model forever.

Anyway, TigerBlog isn't all that worried about it.

First because the Power Five are already the dominant schools anyway. Yeah, maybe it'll be harder for a Boise State to crack into that elite level, but oh well.

And second because it's another Friday in the summer, another week zoomed past.

Now here at Princeton there are just four short weeks until the first events of the next academic year. August is more than a quarter gone. NFL exhibition games have started.

And here is another summer Friday. This summer has been nearly devoid of uncomfortable heat and humidity, with almost no days in the 90s, as opposed to a normal summer, where there are endless days in the 90s.

The forecast for this weekend around here is 85 and sunny for both days, with a zero percent chance of rain.

So get a jump on the weekend. Go. Now. Get outside. Walk. Sit under a tree.

And get ice cream. Lots of it. A milkshake. Go to Carvel and get soft ice cream with the crunchies. Get one Saturday and the other Sunday.

That's an order.

Send the bill to the Power Five conferences. They can afford it.

1 comment:

Victoria Rosenfeld said...

Princeton's Sports Dietitian says yes to the ice cream on both days. 80/20 rule applies on beautiful weekends like this in the summer!
No power five athletes eating ice cream right now.
See you soon Tigers!