Commentary: 'Power 5' commissioners' strategy could mean the end of social mobility in college football
Second, by paying their players, the power conferences will have achieved a huge football recruiting advantage — maybe the largest ever — which is the whole reason why small schools have killed proposals to begin paying players.
If change does happen, you can stop wondering who the next Cinderella will be in the College Football Playoff, because it will only ever be one of the 70 or so schools with the richest athletic programs in America.
In short, there will never be one.
There may be one or two crappy, rich programs that turn things around and have a few really good years, but it will still be a team raking in tens of millions of dollars more than someone who was left out.
Even if some sort of Division IV in college football doesn't materialize, no recruit in his right mind will choose Northern Illinois or Tulsa if Kansas or Kentucky come calling, checkbook in hand. As anyone who ever has scrounged the classes and club meetings of a college campus looking for free food knows, money is what matters when you're poor.
On the other hand, if some sort of Division IV is created, and if colleges who pay their players are segmented off from the rest of the college football world, how well non-stipend-offering clubs play will be irrelevant. Such teams will never be able to ascend to the highest stage of the college game.
No big games means no big money, and no big money means drawing players away from a major program, even a poor one, will become more and more difficult over time, which all of course plays back into the hands of power and money.
This all, of course, is happening because smaller schools have proven that they can consistently win football games against major schools.
Ever since the University of Utah broke through after the 2004 season, at least one team in the mid-major world has been the thorn in the BCS's side almost every year. The little guys just keep winning big games, and by so doing, they keep threatening to take money out of the pockets of those who, according to some, rightfully deserve it.
In the nine years since the first time the BCS was busted, the power schools have tried to figure out a way to bolt the door and lock it up tight. The strategies they've employed to this point have failed, yet they persist in trying to separate themselves from the riff-raff.
Should they eventually succeed, it is conceivable that a number of athletic programs on the outside would drop the sport entirely in order to economize — football is among the most expensive of collegiate sports — but many would survive to carry on tradition in their own way.
Such schools could even organize a championship of their own — perhaps a real playoff — and figure out a way to create an entertaining product on the field that would satisfy their fans and make some decent money for their schools.
Yet, no matter how well one of those teams did, no matter how many games a team at that level could win, they would never get a chance at the nation's premiere championship.
So much for the spirit of open competition. So much, that is, until the antitrust lawsuits start up again.
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