This week in college football news has been.... dramatic.
To paraphrase the Bible "There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Alabama, Ohio State and USC and all the P5 in the Division 4, but you yourselves thrown out."
The power five conferences have spent their week saber rattling. The Big-12, SEC, Big-10, ACC, and PAC-12 are trying to deliver a message to the rest of the NCAA. The message is simple, "Get out of our way or else."
Ignore all the talk of stipends driving this change, this is not about money! The powerful conferences are flush with money and have even floated the idea of funding the schools which will be cast off into a limbo. At a very high level the drama is about the rather unsexy concept of governance and the ability to chart their own course.
The tipping point might be the issues like the full cost of attendance but the problems leading us here have persisted for some time. Multiyear scholarships and a whole host of other issues where the big boys feel as if they are being held back.
PAC 12 commissioner Larry Scott noted"The fact that full cost of attendance is getting blocked by schools without the resources is just wrong." He and the other commissioners in what are referred to as the BCS AQ conferences have been trying to implement some sort of stipend.
The Mid American Conference Commissioner shot by pointing out that the cartel of big name conferences have yet to produce a unified vision for how that stipend would work. John Stinbrener stated it was unfair to blame the "low resource" conferences for voting down proposals, when the "high resource" conferences couldn't agree on how they want to accomplish their ends.
So we have what appears to be an impasse and the threat of a breakaway. The two possibilities that have been kicked around for a few weeks are a new "super-division" above division one and a whole sale exodus of the money conferences from the NCAA. In either case it seemed the G5 conferences were in serious trouble.
Despite all of the ruckus there will be no whole sale divorce. The P5 will be in the NCAA for the next decade and beyond. While they would love their own football league they want no part of maintaining nation wide tournaments for gymnastics, softball, or soccer. They will stay in the NCAA in one form or another.
So there will be a division IV and it will just be the P5 right? Wrong!
There may be a new division but the latest rumors are that it will include about 150 schools. There are 129 schools currently playing FBS football. Almost all of them from LSU to UB voted the same on player compensation issues. The "low revenue" schools blocking such votes are institutions who don't play football and don't put a lot into their hoops. They are D1INO programs, D1 In Name Only.
So given that the real prize sought by the power conferences is governance it's a safe bet the vast majority of the FBS schools will be in the new division. Despite the disparity of wealth they have gernally the same view on how to move forward. Along with the FBS schools the high major hoops conferences like the Big East, the A10, and the WCC will also move "up".
Rumors are that the rest of division one will still have access to the NCAA tournaments but it is hard to imagine too many Cinderellas in a world where you have to pay the mice who pull your carriage.
The important thing from a Buffalo fan's view is that when all is said and done, there will be somewhere between forty and 60 mid major football teams. That means Buffalo and the MAC will likely get swept along with the current.
Why? because as much as Nick Saban loves to go on about how his team has to slum it by playing the little sisters of the poor he wants eight home games a year. Urban Myer might want to badmouth the lower conferences but Ohio State is making five million dollars a home game before expenses.
In a world with no garbage men, no shoe shine boys, no "have nots" the rich will eventually starve and live in squalor. If you kick out the riff raff than your middle class becomes the new riff raff. The presidents and directors of AQ teams know this to be true, especially the schools who struggle at football. Indiana does not want to be college footballs next EMU.
The power programs need us for money and the lesser AQ football programs need us so they can crank out the occasional 7 win season. It's really that simple.
Nobody is forcing Florida to play FCS and G5 teams. They do it because there is a lot of money to be made when the gators are in Gainesville. While FCS teams might get frozen out of big time games the FBS teams, the mid majors willing to commit to the scholarships and stipends will be welcome for those opening day tuneup games.
What remains to be seen is will admittance to the higher division be based on conference or school. Would the new structure take the entire MAC or set spending bars for members? Attendance figures? Right now it sounds like conferences but who knows where things may go.
If it's attendance Buffalo should be concerned. Our Attendance has been as bad as our on the field performance. The next two seasons are going to be telling for UB's future whether or not there is a split. Worrying about what the P5 will do is not going to put buts in the seats, only UB fans can cajole their neighbors and family into taking the trip to Amherst.
If it's the money UB will be fine. The school will come up with the money for the stipends if that's what it takes to play in the FBS. There may be some grumbling here and there but I don't see any FBS school throwing their hands up and taking the walk of shame down to the FCS level.
With a month left before the season starts fans are getting a bit jittery. Every July there are rumors and speculation to go around. This time there seems to be something behind them but at the end of the day there is nothing we can do but "Stay Calm and Bull Run On!"