Armchair QB: NCAA, BCS should take steps to stem I-AA exodus
Adam Van Brimmer | Monday, December 22, 2008 at 12:30 am
ADAM VAN BRIMMER COLUMN
The long-running conversation about Georgia Southern's NCAA Division I-
A football prospects will soon become a debate.
The school's feasibility study is due out next month, and fans both
for and against the move will find material to support their
positions. The report will not offer a recommendation; it will only
outline the challenges GSU would face in going I-A (Football Bowl
Subdivision) as well as the resources and revenue streams available.
The study's chief consultants - former major college athletic
directors Andy Geiger and Mike McGee - do have some advice for the
NCAA, though: Pretty up Division I-AA football.
Do so before all the remaining marquee programs - like Georgia
Southern and Appalachian State - follow Marshall, Troy and Western
Kentucky into major college football's netherworld, known as the Sun
Belt Conference and Conference USA.
"There needs to be a greater incentive for schools to continue to play
at the I-AA or Football Championship Subdivision level," said McGee,
who served as an athletic director at South Carolina, Southern
California and Cincinnati during his career. "Right now, there isn't
much of one."
Division I-AA's only lure - the postseason playoff and a true national
championship game - looked ghastly Friday night. Nothing says bush
league quite like playing for a title on a cold Friday night in a half-
empty stadium in Chattanooga, Tenn.
But moving the title game to warmer climes won't make much difference.
To stem the I-AA exodus, the NCAA needs to convince the major
conferences to share more BCS revenue.
Consider this: The eight Sun Belt football programs divided up a
little more than $2 million in BCS revenue last spring; the eight
Southern Conference schools divvied up $225,000. Sam Baker, GSU's
athletic director, said the Eagles' cut was between $10,000 and
$15,000 and was earmarked for marketing purposes.
So if you're a well-supported I-AA program like Georgia Southern, and
you're going to break even or finish slightly in the red, why not do
it at the Division I-A level where you get greater exposure and can
dream of someday making a BCS game (and really cashing in)?
The power conferences must recognize the dangers there. Saturation of
the Division I-A ranks hurts competitive integrity. It also means more
schools have 85 scholarships - rather than 63 - to give out.
Now is the time for the NCAA and BCS to take action. A moratorium on
moving from I-AA to I-A is in place through 2011. The BCS will
generate almost $150,000,000 in revenue this year. That number will
continue to grow.
The power conferences can give every I-AA program $250,000 of the BCS
money and still pocket tens of millions of their own. And there's no
Nice smoke screen by John Schuerholz this week. By throwing a temper
tantrum over the no-deal with Rafael Furcal, the Braves' head honcho
distracted fans from the fact Atlanta did nothing to improve its
roster at the winter meetings.
The Braves need pitching like the Big Three do union concessions. They
tried and failed to woo starting pitcher A.J. Burnett and showed no
interest in Derek Lowe.
That means their rotation is comprised of Javier Vazquez, Jair
Jurrjens, John Smoltz and Tom Glavine, and that's assuming Smoltz and
Glavine make it back from injuries. Tim Hudson isn't due back from
Tommy John surgery until August at the earliest.