RIDING THE PINE: Nevada football must fight for equal footing

Steve Puterski

Steve Puterski

As the days grow closer to the University of Nevada’s 2013 debut at UCLA, the landscape of college football is undergoing a radical upheaval.

Although a four-team playoff is coming next year, the so-called Big 5 (Pac-12, Big 10, Big 12, SEC and ACC) have rigged the system once again. As the “major” conferences led the charge for the corrupt Bowl Championship Series, these conferences are rebooting the idea for a Division 4 for the future.

Money, of course, is the reasoning behind the new move and yet another attempt to freeze out the mid-major schools. Why allow Boise State, TCU and Utah to crash the party and embarrass the big boys on the national stage?

The good thing for TCU and Utah is they bolted for greener pastures in the Big 12 and Pac-12, respectively.

Nevada, however, is on the outside looking in. With the addition of Athletic Director Doug Knuth and head coach Brian Polian, fundraising to improve facilities and recruiting have been the No. 1 priority. So far, money has come in but what will happen to schools like Nevada who, once again, are barred from at least having the chance of competing for college football’s top prize or playing some of the best teams.

The new playoff format allows for one school outside the Big 5 to reach the playoff, but that team would have to finish in the top four in the final rankings.

What’s more concerning for the Wolf Pack, though, is the repercussions of the fundraising push if the school is left out of the party. Would fans, alumni and the community to continue to donate to what is a promising program to one that would be reduced to second-rate?

The TV revenue — the little there is — would dry up with the creation of a new division. Sure, mid-majors may score a TV deal, but it would probably pale in comparison to what they receive now.

NCAA President Mark Emmert has a scheduled convention in January with administrators and ADs and looks to reform the college football landscape. The NCAA has little to no leverage because of its lack of power to investigate schools suspected of wrongdoing and archaic rules.

The media, schools and fans pound the NCAA — with good reason — although the organization is handcuffed because it lacks subpoena power and consistent punishment it levies against member schools. Individuals who do not work or play for a university do not have to submit to the NCAA’s questioning, leaving plenty of opportunity for wrongdoing.

Nevertheless, Nevada and its small-school brethren must stand together to fight against the college football overlords.

One reason college football is broken is due to a lack of consistency and formality. Bowl games are a financial nightmare where schools lose thousands of dollars to attend. The bowl-game myth of “exposure” is a political talking point for schools that holds no water.

How many people remember who played in last year’s Military Bowl?

With a 16-team playoff based on the BCS standings, schools know and would have to meet those parameters to qualify for the postseason, just like every other sport.

But the biggest concern for college football is the business model. Of the more than 120 Division I schools, only a handful of athletic departments are profitable.

Trim the fat and the Big 5 can feed their gluttonous appetites to turn a profit.

Knuth and company, though, must be proactive with their Mountain West comrades and mid-major counterparts to spearhead a revolution against the powerbrokers. If not, Nevada won’t even be a mid-major, it’ll be a cupcake.

Steve Puterski is the sports editor for the Lahontan Valley News and can be contacted at sputerski@lahontanvalleynews.com.


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