Bob Bowlsby's delivery isn't flashy, but the content of his opening address at Day 1 of Big 12 media days turned heads across the country. His was one of the sharpest criticisms of the NCAA's enforcement and structure in some time, arguing that the big five conferences -- the Big 12, SEC, ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 -- should explore creating a fourth division within the NCAA.
Changing rules and the inability to offer full-cost scholarships -- most major schools can afford it and most lower-division programs cannot -- are the main motivations, but Texas coach Mack Brown is fully on board with Bowlsby's proposal.
From colleague Mark Schlabach:
"I agree with it," Brown said. "I think that at some point we need to realize that's where we're headed. We've always tried to make rules for every level and have it under one umbrella, and it's never worked. When we tried to get instant replay, we couldn't because some [schools] couldn't afford it. When we tried to go to the 40-second [play] clock, we couldn't because some couldn't afford it. When we wanted to put the microphones in the helmets for quarterbacks, we couldn't because some couldn't afford it."
Very good points from Brown, who drew on examples fans could understand and remember to illustrate his points. All of those things clearly improve the quality of the game, but are hardly fundamental changes. Their progress was slowed because of the voting power of lower-division schools, which far outnumber schools that can afford relatively minor changes.
When it comes to passing legislation, any school that plays an NCAA sport has a vote. Each school is going to vote to protect its interests, and those will obviously be different based on budgets.
"You have to say, 'Here's the minimum. If you can't live up to that, go do something else.' I think that's the only way to do it," Brown told Schlabach. "It sounds harsh, but really and truly we're putting too much pressure on those that can't live in this world. If we pay them all and let them live in their own world, who cares? Make it a good league and make it fun."
Not everybody has the luxury of a $163 million budget like Texas, but I'd like to live in a college football world that covers more costs for players and features more high-quality games between major conference teams.
So, apparently, do Brown and Bowlsby.