Commentary: 'Power 5' commissioners' strategy could mean the end of social mobility in college football

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  • jdub1942 PROVO, UT
    Aug. 2, 2013 1:27 a.m.

    I guess what gets me is that I am in the military and have been deployed and the (expletive) United States Air Force doesn't give me as much for school, as the schools are giving to athletes right now. Paying players? The schools are already giving them boatloads of money by paying for their educations, meanwhile inflating their grades.
    Living stipend? the players already get money for housing (or free housing) food and clothing. So much so they wouldn't even have enough room in their closets to fit all the clothing if they actually chose to spend it on that.
    So what these college kids are poor? 99% of college kids are poor, myself included.

  • Dutchman Murray, UT
    July 29, 2013 1:11 p.m.

    3Grandslams, BYU Covert et al,

    There is really nothing new in terms of upper echelon teams separating themselves from the bottom half. The five big conferences represent about 62 schools. Back in the day before SCOTUS broke it up the College Football Association (CFA) had 64 members, most of them the same schools as currently in the Big 5 and they as a group negotiated their own TV deals as a group. The CFA was created in 1977. So you see, things don't change much. The size of the group is about the same as in 1977. Back then Utah and BYU were included in the CFA. The goal was the same, separation from the lower half. The CFA disbanded when the SEC left and created its own TV deal with CBS. Everyone else followed suit. So to disparage the Big 5 now is a little disingenuous. Cutting the group size down to 32 or so in the future will be difficult to do because all these teams are contractually tied to their conferences and in most cases have given up their own TV rights to the conference. To unwind those agreements would be very difficult.

  • 3grandslams Iowa City, IA
    July 29, 2013 11:13 a.m.

    Lets even be more honest and stop listening to "equity" arguments, the cost of living stipend is really a signing bonus. They will not be across the board but will grow depending on the talent the school is trying to attract. In essence is a nasty way the "greed" conferences are trying to recruit players. It is disgusting and dishonest.

    Everyone can see it, no one wants to admit it.

  • 3grandslams Iowa City, IA
    July 29, 2013 11:09 a.m.

    Obviously these 5 conf. don't like Obama and his idea of sharing the wealth, they want all the wealth to themselves (I guess that is sort of like Obama...anyhow), I wish the NCAA would cut them off, the them have college athletics without the support of the NCAA and the NCAA take the remainder teams, create a playoff and make billions!

    Suddenly these "greed" conference would need to get their own contracts, tv rights etc. They have become a cancer, cut them out.

  • 3grandslams Iowa City, IA
    July 29, 2013 11:03 a.m.

    Landon, I guess you forgot the first real BSC buster, it was BYU. Two games that drove these conferences crazy, BYU 1984 National Champions and BYU 1996 Cotton Bowl Champions, especially in 1996, that's when they discovered their guidelines to keep smaller schools out weren't tough enough.

    Now thanks to Utah, Boise etc. (these are the only real bsc busters, Boise has the best tradition by far) they are freaking out again.

    Go Cougars!

  • EdGrady Idaho Falls, ID
    July 29, 2013 8:55 a.m.

    The NFL never looked better.

  • BYU_Convert Provo, UT
    July 28, 2013 5:54 p.m.

    RedRocks said:

    "If this happens look for another reduction in 5-10 years when the elite want to cut out the Vanderbilts, Washington States, the Utahs etc."

    That will never happen especially on Vanderbilt's account. If the $EC kicked out Vanderbilt--its most academically prestigious institution who's athletes are actually book smart--it would show that the $EC is interested in athletic dominance over academic integrity. This would be damaging to the $EC's image especially in court.

  • BYU_Convert Provo, UT
    July 28, 2013 5:45 p.m.

    This was coming for some time now. From the "Sisters of the Poor" comment by the former Ohio $tate president, to the arrogance combined with fear displayed by the commissioners of the so-called "$elect Five" conferences. In the end players go to the money-hungry schools for a ticket to the NFL. That is their compensation, and they need no other. If the $elect Five conferences insists on paying players, then there needs to be a risk assessment done. For example, by breaking NCAA statutes to pay players you either face VERY HARD sanctions by the NCAA until you are no longer paying your players, or you leave the NCAA, but in doing so, you are not governed by a tax-exempt organization, and any school who leaves the NCAA or NAIA or any other organization that exists for the equity and integrity of sport and competition should lose tax-exempt status. The multi-million dollar corporations of the $EC, Big Tweleventeen, and the other three lesser of the $elect Five conferences should be heavily taxed by the IRS. Schools exist to educate and create upstanding citizens, not to sponsor sports franchises that make more money than Fortune 500 companies.

  • WACPaddingOurSchedule pocatello, ID
    July 28, 2013 5:38 p.m.

    Y Grad / Y Dad
    Richland, WA
    pocatello, ID

    Go back and re-read the statement. "Two football programs" "22 athletic departments". One statement does not, necessarily, invalidate the other.


    Hello! Football drives a majority of athletic departments financially. There is a difference between revenue and profit. Seriously doubt that BYU generates more revenue and/or makes more profit than TX, MI, AL, AU, FL, ND, Ohio St., NE, LSU.

  • midpacmajor Salt Lake City, Utah
    July 28, 2013 1:24 p.m.


    "A lot of nervous and spiteful Coug fans on this article."

    No need for "Coug" fans to be nervous or spiteful. BYU isn't the program facing the prospect of perpetual losing, conference basement finishes, with no bowl games.

  • Dutchman Murray, UT
    July 28, 2013 10:11 a.m.

    Nothing to fear, none of your tax dollars goes to fund Utah athletics. The entire $253 million state appropriation funds grad and under grad education at a 40 percent level.

  • Y Grad / Y Dad Richland, WA
    July 28, 2013 7:50 a.m.

    pocatello, ID

    Go back and re-read the statement. "Two football programs" "22 athletic departments". One statement does not, necessarily, invalidate the other.

  • motorbike Cottonwood Heights, UT
    July 28, 2013 12:12 a.m.

    A lot of nervous and spiteful Coug fans on this article.

  • WACPaddingOurSchedule pocatello, ID
    July 27, 2013 9:45 p.m.

    Farmington, UT
    Those thinking BYU has financial problems are not aware that a few years ago it was in the news that there were TWO schools in the entire country that had football programs operating in the black and ONE of them was BYU. And since it is a private institution they don't need to tell anyone their business, do they?


    At last count there were 22 schools with profitable athletic departments. That excludes student fees and government funds. Did not see BYU on the list (private school). That does not mean they are not profitable, But there are more than two schools.

  • Silent Lurker Cottonwood Heights, UT
    July 27, 2013 7:15 p.m.

    Does anyone here really believe that the smaller conferences and schools are looking out for the interests of power five conferences?
    Because the NCAA is dominated by these smaller schools/conferences they have been able to dictated how power conferences and schools should be run.What's fare about that? Would you like someone else dictating how your life should be run? \
    There is no true equality in anything in life. Why should football be any different? Why should the power five be subjected to the needs of the now power five? Does a world class doctor or lawyer have the same needs or problems as a dollar store clerk? The doctor and lawyer may want to help the clerk out but they should not be forced to do so because there are more dollar store clerks. All the power five want is to be able to run their conference or school the way they want. Not as someone else decides or wants. Let the market decide! If you don't like the power five then don't participate with them. You have a choice, why shouldn't they?

  • red rocks Saint George, UT
    July 27, 2013 6:40 p.m.

    If this happens look for another reduction in 5-10 years when the elite want to cut out the Vanderbilts, Washington States, the Utahs etc.. ( the teams that can't produce championships) that are going to be the bottom feeders. They will be looking at what teams can produce the revenue needed to belong to the elite club. Those who cant produce will be shown the door. Some of you will think that this cant / wont happen. That is exactly what is happening right now. This is just the next round of the football elite. They will cut it down to about 32 teams. The big winners will be the attorneys and Lobbyists that will emerge to influence the politicians on each side of this argument.

    The Bottom line is that the NCAA need to step up and put their big boy pants on and make tough decisions (true football playoffs) for college football to survive.

  • toosmartforyou Farmington, UT
    July 27, 2013 6:27 p.m.

    Those thinking BYU has financial problems are not aware that a few years ago it was in the news that there were TWO schools in the entire country that had football programs operating in the black and ONE of them was BYU. And since it is a private institution they don't need to tell anyone their business, do they?

    For those who think Utah Taxpayers are going to sit still and have their taxes go up to pay Utah football players a stipend, think again. It ain't gonna happen.

    With respect to the "elite 5" telling everyone they are so much better than the average team (some who have been rewarded by going to BCS games) I only think of the US Congress and their ego. Of course we see their current approval rating and perhaps these elite programs would get the same sort of reputation. Egos are so hard to deflate; not only do they have the magical and mythical Championship Game, they have all the money. What they are missing is common sense. We see that frequently with comments from fans of our own local variety of a bottom-feeder BcS member.

  • Cougsndawgs West Point , UT
    July 27, 2013 5:33 p.m.

    There are many, including myself, that believe CFB elite programs will break from the ncaa and the rest for financial and exclusionary reasons. This would include the elite money-making programs. If this happens, and I firmly believe it will, Utah and BYU can kiss major CFB goodbye because neither program is elite in terms of fanbase or income.

  • Cougsndawgs West Point , UT
    July 27, 2013 5:30 p.m.

    There's a few good points that posters have brought up and I agree with. State legislatures that subsidize state schools will certainly have something to say about paying players equal stipends. Thats why i dont feel paying players has anything to do with the Power 5 wanting to break away. it has everythng to do with them keeping the money they feel they "deserve"...its elitism at its finiest.

    As for BYU, this really isn't a big deal to them. They are a private school that fund themselves, and will pay the stipends and slightly raise ticket prices, or whatever needs to be done. There are some commentators that feel the brethren would get rid of BYU sports altogether, but that is not accurate at all. The reason BYU fought for TV rights and independence to begin with was the increased exposure it would provide for THE LDS CHURCH. Why would they invest millions of dollars, only to cut it off now? BYU will do what BYU needs to do...Utah on the other hand, will be in the hands of the legislature....

  • Atrix Vancouver, WA
    July 27, 2013 5:21 p.m.

    The day this theory comes true will mark the end of football at the pro and college level as we know it today. NCAA Basketball is super entertaining because everybody has the same chance. Honestly I miss good old traditional football, when money wasn't the reason for playing. It disgusts me that corruption had to take over football. I guess the days are coming where sports won't mean much to many anyways. The world will soon learn that there is more to life than money.

  • Ltrain St. George, UT
    July 27, 2013 2:02 p.m.

    Interesting comments as usual. I graduated from the U of U, and since their greedy administration acted to join with the other greedy schools, it gives me great joy to laugh out loud when I get the "donation requests" from my AM. I encourage others to never give another red cent to this "institution of hypocrisy."
    I as a voter would certainly get involved if the U ever tried to stipend their players. Unless they can afford to do the same with the other schools in the state, then no way it happens.

  • panamadesnews Lindon, UT
    July 27, 2013 12:46 p.m.

    @Bleed Crimson: Do you think BYU voted itself #1 in 1984? I thought they just played their games and won them all.

  • panamadesnews Lindon, UT
    July 27, 2013 12:29 p.m.

    @Chris B: Why do you think AD Hill is holding back on upgrading the stadium? It is because he can see the writing on the wall. If the so called "Big 5" conferences are organized, Hill is worried that Utah may not be included. Hill does not want to have an albatross hanging around his neck - that of a brand new 80,000 capacity stadium and minimal attendance at the games. He already has one albatross - the Huntsman Center - doesn't want another.

    Rather than worrying about whether or not BYU is included in the "Big 5", I would worry about Utah, if I were you - if you are a TRUE Utah fan.

  • panamadesnews Lindon, UT
    July 27, 2013 12:12 p.m.


  • Duckhunter Highland, UT
    July 27, 2013 11:52 a.m.

    As far as utah is concerned on this subject how is it that utah "fans" think a program already subsidized 25% of its total revenue, and then still runs a multi million dollar deficit, will be able to pay anyone anything?

    utah athletics is a money loser, a big fat money loser, and cannot afford itself as is.

  • eagle Provo, UT
    July 27, 2013 10:44 a.m.

    No need for institutions to pay athletes. Let them reap the profits from their likeness as used in the video games from those private entities. That would be fair and right. This is a pandora's box that might not just destroy college football for many programs, it really threatens entire athletic programs.

  • Christy B Salt Lake City, Utah
    July 27, 2013 12:18 a.m.


    It's doubtful that the taxpayers of Utah will allow the Utes to pay football players, if players at other state schools aren't paid. The state may just have to cancel inter-collegiate athletics at the U to rein in the out-of-control spending.

  • NightOwlAmerica SALEM, OR
    July 26, 2013 10:48 p.m.

    I shared my thoughts a few days ago about the potential for conferences to break away. As some have said it is about the money. There is no way that these schools could get away with paying football players only. Lawyers would have a field day with all of the discrimination lawsuits. It's possible the big 5 would cut lesser sports programs all together to avoid paying players.

    Say what you want about Utah. BYU will be on the outside looking in. I seriously doubt the administration and church would go along and join a big 5 conference if the breakaway happens.

  • Billy Budd Saint George, UT
    July 26, 2013 10:12 p.m.

    "...A college scholarship for a football player is worth 40-70 thousand, depending on the school. This is probably low...".

    A scholarship, at USC or Stanford would probably be closer to $250,000 for a redshirt player who stayed the full five years.

  • Wayne Rout El Paso, TX
    July 26, 2013 8:30 p.m.

    College athletes are given a great advantage right now. Food, lodging, and education. True, most never graduate or have a real career after college, but they still have been given a great gift. A college scholarship for a football player is worth 40-70 thousand, depending on the school. This is probably low. It is a pretty good give to a student that may not have gone to school otherwise. I don't object to giving them plane tickets home or a small amount of spending money. I do object to the fact that at the power schools players don't have to go to class and they certainly don't do their own homework. Most don't have to obey the law or hold to moral standards. They have a pretty good deal right now. Besides, without the mid-major school, who would be big schools play in September?

  • dden45 Provo, Utah
    July 26, 2013 5:27 p.m.


    If they start paying players in the big 5 conferences, the good players will go to the teams that can afford to pay them more. Meaning, not UTAH. It means you will have about 3 or 4 teams from each conference making it to the top and the rest never having a chance.

  • Owl Salt Lake City, UT
    July 26, 2013 4:51 p.m.

    Forget everything else, it's the money.

  • jbarr North Ogden, UT
    July 26, 2013 4:04 p.m.

    If they start paying the players in the big 5 conferences then Utah may finally be a better program than BYU. They have already caught up to BYU. A player will choose a school that pays him over one that doesn't almost every time.

  • Just Truth Saratoga Springs, UT
    July 26, 2013 3:53 p.m.

    Sounds worse than the NFL, where money grabs have basically spoiled my interest.

  • Wookie Omaha, NE
    July 26, 2013 3:03 p.m.

    Dear Duckhunter, scholarships in the sense that you refer to in the aforementioned article are not deemed income by the IRS. Therefore, they are not getting paid and it is not a taxable event. However, it is debatable that if in fact the power conferences pay their athletes, the likelihood of this being taxed is fairly significant. Although not part of your post, its worth mentioning, as for anti-trust laws, the way that they power conferences could remove themselves from this discussion or scrutiny would be to create a seperate conference with separate rules and regulations to join or be a part of.

    Lastly, what do you think the Bretheren would say as to your belittling comment to dutchman?

    GO UTES!!

  • Bleed Crimson Sandy, Utah
    July 26, 2013 1:46 p.m.

    @ STuFOO

    "It still cracks me up that utah "fans" think they "busted" something created because of BYU.

    u all need to understand history, not just claim that u were history"

    It still cracks me up that BYU fans feel they should be credited for Utah's success. That's a sign of either jealousy or insecurity. Utah busted the BCS on their own and BYU in no way shape or form helped Utah "bust" the BCS. (Except maybe standing as a punching bag in Utah's regular season finale on their way to the BCS). The only thing historical BYU should be credited for is the creation of the BCS. Thanks to their flukey 1984 title! Thanks BYU for ruining College Football's post season!

  • Todd Christiansen's Thesaurus Ogden, UT
    July 26, 2013 12:22 p.m.

    Hey Ute fans! The fourth paragraph on the second page is a reference to U.

  • STuFOO Korea, AE
    July 26, 2013 11:59 a.m.

    It still cracks me up that utah "fans" think they "busted" something created because of BYU.

    u all need to understand history, not just claim that u were history.

  • Naval Vet Philadelphia, PA
    July 26, 2013 11:31 a.m.


    Essentially, there had been only 3 teams who'd struck fear in the power brokers, and since 2 are now power conference members, that leaves only Boise St. One single threat to the BCS system.

  • Naval Vet Philadelphia, PA
    July 26, 2013 11:27 a.m.

    "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." -- Landon Hemsley

    I suppose that depends on how one views a "thorn in the BCS's side". If by "thorn" one means a non-AQ team taking a BCS bowl slot, than yes, Utah, Boise St, Hawai'i, TCU, and No. Illinois had given the power brokers some degree of heartburn. Nevertheless, I'm not sure that Hawai'i or NIU really hurt the BCS that much. Those two non-AQ schools had provided substantial evidence, via their lopsided scores, that they in fact did NOT belong in a BCS bowl, but were rather "pretenders" gaming the system by backing in via weak SOS. Neither team beat ANY ranked teams, and vs. teams from BCS leagues, they went 2-1...with UH beating Washington (4-9), and NIU taking down Kansas (1-11) -- both by a single TD. The sole loss was NIU dropping a virtual Home game to a 4-8 Iowa team.

  • VegasUte Las Vegas, NV
    July 26, 2013 10:54 a.m.

    I would have to agree with poyman and bluecoug.

    The litigation cost would be staggering.

    If it cam down to paying a stipend to athletes, I don't think the "brethren" would be required to give their blessing.

    I really like Larry Scott's voice on the topic: "I'm certainly aligned with what you heard from my colleagues this week in terms of the need for transformative change, but I think it can be evolutionary and not revolutionary.

    "I don't think it will be as confrontational and controversial a process as some of the reports I have heard this week."

    Go Utes!!

  • STuFOO Korea, AE
    July 26, 2013 10:08 a.m.

    For anyone beating their chests about BCS membership and how this little power grab is going to change the face of football I got one word for you...


    Stop and think for a second. Are there more constituents (not fans) inside the power 5 or outside of the power 5? Politicians don't care about fans, they care about getting re-elected.

    Although BYU is not particularly litigious, there are plenty of schools who are. And, for those of you who don't understand case law, a precedent exists that quashes this entire idea...

    its called the NCAA basketball tournament. And the courts could be tied up for years.

    If you don't think there would be lawsuits over this, you're crazy, what with the money involved. You think "power" conferences are greedy, just wait until politicians, states, and boosters get involved.

    Then politicians and lawyers will get involved to restructure the entire college football program, killing conferences, TV deals, and bowl affiliations.

    So good luck with all the chest beating ute "fans." As always, you put your pride in the wrong institutions.

    I hope you don't hurt yourselves.

  • BlueCoug Orem, UT
    July 26, 2013 10:03 a.m.


    "Paying football players? That also means paying every athlete in college that plays any sport."

    Says who?

    "The Brethren" don't pay for BYU athletics, fans and donors do, so paying or not paying athletes is a non-issue as far as the long-term viability of BYU athletics is concerned.

    BYU has been working to endow athletic scholarships for years and well over half of all of BYU's athletic scholarships are already endowed. Adding an additional stipend onto those scholarships is not a big deal; it'll just take a little more fund raising.

  • Chris B Salt Lake City, UT
    July 26, 2013 9:55 a.m.


    And where would byu be during this time?

    Division II.


  • Mighty Mouse Salt Lake City, Utah
    July 26, 2013 9:52 a.m.

    If this isn't collusion in restraint of trade what is? Time to dust of the antitrust lawsuit again. Eventually someone is going to have to teach these power drunk commissioners in the big conferences a lesson in the courtroom.

  • Chris B Salt Lake City, UT
    July 26, 2013 8:28 a.m.

    Regardless of the specifics of how it plays out, there will be a few constants:

    1. Utah will be IN
    2. byu will be OUT
    3. usu will be OUT

    I love my prestigious Pac 12 membership!

    We EARNED it just in the nick of time. College football is about to chance permanently.

    And I'm IN!

  • dden45 Provo, Utah
    July 26, 2013 8:26 a.m.

    Really, though, this would be the nail in the coffin for about 30 or so schools within those five leagues, including schools like TCU and Utah, who made the jump. It would mean that unless a school pull in a ton of money outside of what it gets from being in an elite conference, that school is just going to be a doormat (this would probably include BYU if they were to join a power conference). The smaller schools within those conferences should be joining some of these 'mid-major' and lesser schools in the fight against this.

  • Chris B Salt Lake City, UT
    July 26, 2013 8:26 a.m.

    When superconferences form, which conference do byu fans think will "save" them from permanently being excluded from the ranks of the big boys?

    Pac 12? Oh no we wont
    SEC? LOL
    Big 10? Not a chance
    ACC? Keep dreaming
    Big 12? You had your chance and burned that bridge long ago. And the Big 12 chose to go east.

    There is exactly a 0% chance that a big conference will come to byu's rescue as the big 5 are solidified as the only legitimate teams in the country.

    All other programs can make up their own "national championship" if they want between the MWC, Conference USA.... and other little teams

    But the hope of moving to play with the big boys will be OVER

  • Dutchman Murray, UT
    July 26, 2013 8:23 a.m.

    Paying football players? That also means paying every athlete in college that plays any sport. Will the trustees (the brethren) who run BYU allow this? I doubt it. BYU is getting boxed in, not only by being an independent on the outside looking in but the pay issue is going to be a real challenge for them going forward.

  • poyman Lincoln City, OR
    July 26, 2013 8:22 a.m.

    Not gonna happen... Any Division 1 Colleges left out would file a class action Anti-Trust Suit and win going away.

  • Chris B Salt Lake City, UT
    July 26, 2013 8:21 a.m.

    This will be the final nail in the coffin for "Non-BCS" schools who wish they were with the big boys.

    The 5 power conferences will soon make up the entirety of the highest division in football, and only they will be eligible for the national championship.

    The days are not far off from byu and usu being division II Programs


  • Mark321 Las Vegas, NV
    July 26, 2013 7:27 a.m.

    If a stipend ends up happening than the athletes better keep the grades up and get to practices on time and not get in trouble. I believe if any of these 3 things are not met than the stipend gets taken away. No matter how anyone tries to spin this education comes FIRST period, even though I question some of the programs who I believe want this more for the money than the educational aspect.

  • Steven S Jarvis Orem, UT
    July 26, 2013 7:14 a.m.

    Utah and other lower tier schools of the five conferences would still have programs, but never be competitive again as the top talent goes to their competition. We have already seen how Utah compares with the PAC in recruiting, and it hasn't been good. They are barely treading water.

    At least with the status quo, Utah has a chance at bowl eligibility with being able to schedule Idaho State, SUU and Weber state as a "guaranteed win" each year. If they must replace those games with away games at bigger programs to offset the cost of paying players, they aren't going to win games.

    BYU might have to join a conference. I love independence as it has so far been fantastic. 2012 had BYU face 5 teams ranked at the end of the season. 2013 has the most bowl eligible programs BYU has faced from the previous year. 2014 has the makings of being as good as this year for playing winning teams as the programs we will face have a better overall record than the ones we face in 2013. I would hate being locked into having to play the same teams every year again.

  • hobbes1012003 Kaysville, UT
    July 26, 2013 2:24 a.m.

    Why are the so called power conferences so worried? they still rake in millions of dollars every year and they are still the "power conferences." whatever happened to the idea of open competition? This isnt about football anymore, this is all about money and how the rich guys in the good ol' boy club can stay rich and hoard everything for themselves. Sad times for college football.