While the smaller schools will be able to play under the same rules as the big guys, it just doesn't seem realistic that the little kids of college athletics will be able to compete financially with those in the five major conferences.When USF AD Mark Harlan took the job this spring, I spoke with him about the high amounts students were already getting taxed to support the growing sports department. The hope was as contributions grew, expenses would hold fairly steady, so students wouldn't have to keep forking over more and more money.
The major conferences have their own TV networks. They play in the better bowls. They have the richest boosters. They make the most money.
Consider: It's estimated that the five mid-major conferences will share about $75 million in revenue from college football's new playoff format. That's about $15 million a conference. That's about $35 million less than the Power Five conferences. Now factor in all the TV money that the big conferences get and it would appear that many smaller schools won't be able to offer recruits the same packages as a big school.
However, it seems USF has a choice: increase subsidies on students to keep up with the Joneses, or settle for being a second-tier athletics program and nothing more. There happens to be nothing wrong with the latter, either.
Jones actually suggests a third option potentially: USF could cut other sports to fund the new perks required to compete in football.
Of course, we could avoid these tough decisions if the NCAA would just force the biggest conferences to share more revenue with the "small market" teams...haha, just kidding...like that would ever happen.
No, in fact, Jones points out what may actually happen is that the Power Five conferences would break away and the mid-majors would have their own football championship.
"I don't believe that will happen,'' Harlan said. "There are good people in those conferences, and I trust that is something they would not want to have happen.''
Still, even Harlan admits that if you're not in one of the major five conferences, there is now uncertainty about the future.
And if you're a USF booster, you're reminded this could have been avoided if president Judy Genshaft and former AD Doug Woolard hadn't nodded off during all the conference realignment.