Thursday, May 29, 2014

Time For NCAA Mid-Majors to Act

By Jean Neuberger

In a world where realignment never runs out of style, where the premier conferences are seeking autonomy and building more power through the new college football playoff, the mid-major conferences appear ... stuck.

Their role in the new playoff? Minimal. Their chances of keeping up with the power conferences? Slipping every day. With the rise of conference networks, the financial divide between conferences big and small is growing rapidly.

Schools like Louisville and TCU managed to climb up to join the big boys in football before the playoff era began. Some of this is due to their success on the field; some of it is due to the large media centers in which their schools are located. The latter is why Boise State did not succeed with realignment (along with joining the Big East). Something tells me that the realization of Boise not breaking into the playoff scene is part of the reason Chris Petersen headed to Washington as well.

The mid-majors are stuck. It's time for them to create their own futures.

Four years of a college scholarship is an amazing gift to any student. It's not enough to many, as we're finding out more and more these days. For a mid-major school, ask yourself this: all the work, all the sweat, all the toil, but no shot at a national title ... ever?

New to the BCS level party, Georgia Southern will never get a playoff slot by beating Texas State, Arkansas State, and Georgia State. They could by beating Texas, Arkansas, and Georgia. They'll never get that chance.

Ask yourself this as well: three of the major conferences are starting to push a nine game conference slate. The SEC and ACC may eventually turn that way themselves. The chances of playing a major school and getting a major paycheck become that much slimmer.

Mid-majors have to break away. They need their own autonomy. Invite some of the best from the FCS to realign up and set a new division. Work as a division to set up TV contracts ... yes, one conference won't pull in the revenue that a division will. And, while I love college football, let's try to avoid those Tuesday and Wednesday affairs, shall we?

They need their own poll. The average viewer might be more interested in No. 1 Boise State vs. No. 3 Marshall than just Boise State/Marshall. Every TV rating is going to count. They need their own playoff. While the bowl season stays in the BCS, let the playoff take over the screens on Saturday.

They need their own rules. Watch what the bigger schools are doing and find ways to make competitive advantages for themselves.

These are just suggestions. However, there's one thing we all know they need to do. They need to change from the upcoming status quo. The faster, the better.

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