Over the weekend I shared with you all the reasons why all of this P5 sabre rattling does not have me too concerned about UB's future athletic status. In short I believe all the angst being from the power conference may look like it's aimed at the world but it's really aimed at the non FBS schools with small budgets.
NCAA reform looms amid talk of Division IV - Pete Thamel - SI.com
How will things look? This is impossible to answer right now. The Big 5 will likely form a new tier -- perhaps Division IV or a "super division" -- that creates an elite division of athletics still under the auspices of the NCAA. Think of a scenario where a total of 12-15 conferences -- about 150 schools -- end up in this new subset of Division I.
In the words of the Hitchhikers Guide... "DON'T PANIC!"
As I said in "Keep Calm and Bull Run On" The big conferences need the little guys almost as much as we need them. The elite teams could go on without the group of five (MAC, Sun Belt, CUSA, MWC, and AAC) but they would be worse off than if they take the mid major schools with them.
For the powerful schools like Alabama and USC there is the desire to play 8 home games. The Millions of dollars per home game made at the gate, the concessions stand, and in the parking lot are too good to pass up. By some estimates Ohio State pulls in about five million dollars per home game they sell out.
The Buckeye's are going to sell out opening week games no matter who the opponent is so why not buy a game against UB and earn four million or so after the payout? It's the same thing the mid majors do with FCS teams just on a bigger scale.
The more modest P5 football programs need home games against mid majors to go bowling every once in a while. A power school like Texas sitting home happens once in a blue moon. For some of the lesser P5 schools a bowl is really something special and usually it's owned to at least one win against the G5.
Just look at Iowa State. The Cyclones have been in just three bowl games since 2005. Each of those years (2009, 2011, 2012) the Cyclones finished the season at 6-6. In 2009 they beat North Dakota (FCS), Kent (MAC), and Army. In 2011 they owed their sixth win to North Dakota State (FCS), then last season they beat Tulsa (CUSA) and Western Illinois (FCS).
As an aside their 2009 Bowl Win came over a 6-6 Minnesota team who needed to beat Air Force (MWC), and South Dakota State (FCS).
There are 129 teams among the FBS conference, for the most part that number is going to stay the same. For structural payout reasons the new system taking over after the BCS does not make large mid major conferences desirable.
The conferences get payout per team up to 12 teams, after that the pie stops getting bigger and every new addition costs the other teams in the conference money.
The better basketball conferences will come along because, well, what would college hoops be with out the Big East? As good as the P5 are on the gridiron they have to respect what the Big East and some among the A10 and WCC can do on the hardwood.
So there we are with the FBS schools, pretty much all of them, and the high Major and some high mid major hoops.
The Big East brings 10 teams, as the the West Coast Conference. If the A10 is included they will bring 14 more teams. The Big East and WCC would bring the number to 149 which is suspiciously close to the 150 which has been rumored. If the A10 makes the cut the number rises to 163.
From a governance perspective 160 schools, who are all spending 20 million over per year, represent similar interest in terms of stipends, spending, and growth. The angst of the Big conferences is not aimed at Toledo or Buffalo who spend 25 million a year rather it's aimed squarely at the MEAC schools and other bargain basement conferences.
The challenge for the MAC and other G5 schools will not be saying in a division with the P5 schools. The challenge for the teams in the G5 will remain to do what schools liek Boise, TCU, and Utah did. It will be to look respectable or even good in that division.