Time to reward those who created Power Five

Published 11:44 am Sunday, August 10, 2014

Now that college football’s elite have the autonomy to take care of their players in a manner better befitting their status on campus, what’s next?

Understand, no players are going to get filthy rich off the “full cost of attendance” thing, which will probably be Proposal No. 1 when the changes start coming up for approval at the beginning of next year.

You’re talking about walking-around money for college players, many of whom don’t have much to speak of.

And good for them.

The amount is still to be determined.

And, oh by the way, whatever amount it is determined to be, I would suggest the schools dole it out monthly.

As we are so often reminded, these are 18- to 22-year-old kids. Given a nice, shiny lump sum at the beginning of the semester, it will likely be spent and gone by the end of the first week of class, and the first pizza pangs will come post haste.

My own parents, by the way, based on experience from a million years ago, would testify on this interesting phenomena before the high tribunal.

But we’re getting off track.

So, indeed, what’s next?

Well, if it please the court, I have a suggestion.

The big boys seem to be in a very charitable mood these days.

All of this, we hear, is for the better welfare of the student-athlete. They have been too long neglected. Their needs should be met. It’s all about being fair.

And why are they suddenly doing it?

Well, because they can, of course.

They have the money — at least the sports’ power brokers do.

In the posturing for autonomy, rightly or wrongly the Power Five conferences have created the image that they are wallowing in cash money, with no end in sight thanks to television.

You almost imagine the SEC, for instance, frolicking around a Las Vegas hotel room, giggling and throwing thousand-dollar bills at the ceiling and letting it rain down amongst all the gleefully dancing Gators, Tigers, Bulldogs and Razorbacks in the room, not to mention the big Elephant in the corner.

So now that they have all this spare cash laying around, they need to spend it on something?

Yes, it’s there, it needs to be spent on the welfare of the student-athletes.

They are going to get theirs. They should be first in line.

But once the student-athletes are taken care of, could they start looking elsewhere.

I mean who really makes all of this possible?

I’d suggest it’s the fans.

And, if I’m a season ticket-holder, I would have to be wondering about all this excess cash.

They’re flush, you hear, and yet every time the State U. caravan comes to your town for a little song-and-dance and the obligatory head coach greet-and-meet, the desperate sales pitch begins.

They need more, more, more, more … to keep up with the spending spree that Cross-State Tech and Hated Rival are on.

As I’ve often said, the “arms race” among the big schools isn’t just a bad war analogy. They are just like defense departments in that no matter what their budget is or how many play toys they have, they always need more and more and more.

And your Tradition Fund donations keep getting bigger and season tickets are like taking out a second mortgage.

Couldn’t the downtrodden ticket holders get a break?

Don’t hold your breath on that one.

If anything, this newfound autonomy is academia’s way of admitting that capitalism has a place in its business model.

As it should be, you suppose.

Alabama is Exxon and has different needs than the mom-and-pop fillin’ station that Nick Saban’s daddy ran back in West Virginia.

The big schools, even if hit with a rare outbreak of charity, aren’t going to suspend the laws of supply and demand.

But might they make those season tickets worth a little more to the average fan?

At LSU, this year many season-ticker holders are paying full (top) dollar for games against Sam Houston State, UL-Monroe and New Mexico State — which they may well not even show up for — just so they can be there when Alabama comes to town on Nov. 8.

They’re told that it’s part of the cost of doing business at the top of the food chain.

Well, that might be changing with autonomy.

Already, ESPN has taken a poll of all 65 Power Five head coaches, and the majority of those with an opinion — 18 had none — were in favor of their schools playing only schools from the other five big-boy conferences.

That kind of surprised me. Coaches generally like the path of least resistance. Les Miles, for instance, who is against going to a nine-game SEC schedule, was in favor of it.

It probably has something to do with the uncertainty of schedule strength for deciding the four teams in the fledgling College Football Playoff.

It would probably go too far to totally ban teams from playing schools from the so-called Group of Five conferences — whose schools ARE eligible to be in the playoff.

Somewhere a traditional rivalry game would be legislated out of existence.

But you might put in limitations — one, two a year? — that keep your alma mater from loading up for nonconference yawn-fests.

The college fan, who’s paying for all this, deserves it.


Scooter Hobbs covers LSU

athletics. Email him at