Hickey Column: Gap between Haves and Have-nots growing

By By Alex Hickey / American Press

In case you haven’t been keeping track, the Haves’ record against the Have-nots in the Game of Life is something like 75,000-12.

(The Have-nots had a pretty decent squad sometime around the French Revolution).

It is a reality in every part of

society, and college football is becoming as much a reflection of that

as anything else.

Unless they can grab hold of the rapidly elevating cliff, those in

the middle are being marginalized to the point that they

will soon be at the bottom.

Things threaten to get uglier for the

Have-nots in college sports when the Haves create their own country-club

level with

players earning stipends. The Have-not schools, seen by the power

conference bigwigs as nothing more than leeches, would essentially

be barred from the premises.

It is coming as soon as January, when NCAA Commissioner Mark Emmert convenes what amounts to an emergency summit created to

prevent the “Big Five” conferences from running away to do their own thing.

The primary complaint from fat cats

like Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott is that schools with a $5 million

budget have the

same voting power in the NCAA as schools with $130 million

budgets, and IT’S NOT FAIW. (That’s “fair” spoken in Toddlerese,

for those unfamiliar with the language).

Basically, the argument of Scott and the other big-conference commissioners is like a senator from Texas or California saying,

“Hey, Why should Rhode Island have as much power as us?”

The Big Five are fixing to rig the structure so it is more like the Electoral College in terms of power distribution.

Live in a small non-swing state? Have fun thinking your presidential vote matters. Maybe one of the candidates will stop by

for 45 minutes during the campaign.

Now we can get the same deal in college sports.

The counter-argument is that it is

absurd for the likes of Texas A&M to be operating under the same

structure as Texas A&M-Corpus

Christi, and there is strong merit to that claim.

The enormous television contracts inked

by these newly expanded mega-conferences make it increasingly dishonest

for those

who can afford it to not give some of the cut to the athletes

making that revenue happen. Oregon’s new football facility looks

like it was built by Scrooge McDuck himself, missing only a pool

of gold to jump into after games. Or maybe they just haven’t

Tweeted out that photo yet.

Point is, anyone who can build such an extravagant structure can probably afford to dole out a few grand extra each semester.

Such changes probably wouldn’t affect the McNeeses of the world, who are rarely competing directly with LSU for recruits who

might see a $2,000 per year stipend as the difference-maker.

The trouble comes when those who think they can afford it, but cannot, try swimming in the deep end of the money pool.

Already the American Athletic Conference — aka Zombie Big East — said it wants to keep a chair at the table in this so-called

“Division Four.”

If the American jumps, what’s to

prevent the Mountain West, Mid-American, Conference USA and Sun Belt

from deluding themselves

into thinking they can follow? The ability to apply the brakes

hasn’t been evidenced anywhere in college sports in the last

decade.

If everyone currently in the Football

Bowl Subdivision tries to dive in, you’re looking at the college sports

equivalent of

the mortgage crisis — people snookered into thinking they could

bite off more than they can chew, while around them an entire

bubble bursts on their heads. This one wouldn’t sink the economy,

of course, but it would probably be financed on the backs

of students paying onerous additional fees at the “in-betweener”

schools.

Even before this next seismic financial shift occurs, things are already fundamentally unfair at the lower levels of college

football in regard to the application of instant replay review.

In the few years that replay has been

available to all FBS programs, the lack of it at the Football

Championship Subdivision

level has largely been viewed as an inconvenience. But now that

the NCAA’s new rules on targeting players go into effect this

season, it is becoming an enormous disadvantage that threatens the

integrity of the game at the lower level.

Players will now be ejected if they intentionally hit an opponent above the shoulders leading with the crown of their helmet,

which is a fine measure for safety purposes. However, these plays happen so fast that deciphering intent almost certainly

requires access to instant replay, which will be available in FBS games.

Somehow, FCS officials — who generally aren’t as sharp or experienced as those at the FBS level, or they’d be there themselves

— will be asked to make these determinations without the same benefit.

Think your job is tough? A game, a season, and a coach’s job could ultimately hinge on these calls, and officials will be

placed in a very tough spot to make them.

That’s the difference money makes. And that’s just now.

What will happen when the gap between the Haves and Have-nots becomes a Grand Canyon?

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Alex Hickey covers McNeese State athletics. Email him at ahickey@americanpress.com