EDITOR'S NOTE: I had incorrectly reported earlier that this would take a 2/3 convention vote. That is incorrect and 51% will carry this. Thanks to Brandon Meisner at D2football.com who helped me wade through the last report from the NCAA.
Big Smoke Coming Down...Maybe. Huge changes could be coming to NCAA division II football and frankly they look mighty scary. The NCAA is proposing to split D2 into two "championship brackets". It is all based on the number of scholarships each bracket could award. One could offer up to 36 while the other could offer up to 18. Not only does what this would do in terms of watering down the division scare me, but what Hillsdale College might do as well.
If this thing goes through, it would not take effect until the 2009 season but bottom line is that it is a bad idea. Anytime something splits, it gets watered down. Remember back in elementary school when the football games would get too rough on the playground, so the teachers would make fifth graders play on one field and the sixth graders play on another field? Those new smaller games never regained the grinding intensity of the big free-for-all. Maybe a better example is when my elementary school restructured (read sissy-fied) field day with a bunch of different competitions hoping to give other less athletic kids a shot at a ribbon. For some reason the tetherball championship as the only boy in the competition wasn't as satisfying as winning the 600 yard run against the whole school. The same could be coming to D2 football.
How did we get here? If you follow this division closely, you know that the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference and the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference have been pushing for years to lower the maximum number of scholarships to 24 at this level. Those ideas have been continually rebuffed by the membership and this new approach was offered up as a sort of compromise by a special committee within the NCAA.
Money Talks There has been quite the spirited debate taking place over at the D2football.com Message Board regarding the proposed change and I have been an outspoken critic of them since this thing first surfaced. All of a sudden college administrators nationwide, many who don't know a jock strap from a chin strap (not ours of course) will have the opportunity to save hundreds of thousands of dollars in one fell swoop. The economic factor is what scares me the most about the future of Hillsdale College football.
What Will Kovalchik Do?It is no secret that money is tight right now in the Hillsdale College athletic department and over his track record athletic director Mike Kovalchik has been a notorious cost cutter. Heck, he and the Hillsdale administration cut Dave Dye's academic advising job in a "restructuring" move. So, the question has to be at least considered. Would Hillsdale opt to award only 1/2 of its current scholarships to play in the bottom tier of Division II? Would Hillsdale deny a significant number of young men the chance to play for one of the historical small college football programs? This remains to be seen. I am hoping the Hillsdale tradition I know of rising to meet a challenge will weigh heavily on this decision.
League Breaker According to the NCAA, entire conferences will have to decide with which division they will affiliate themselves. But, schools do have the option of playing in an opposite tier as an independent or as an associate football-only member of another league. Now the question looms. What will the GLIAC do? The smaller and private GLIAC schools may, I say, "may" be tempted to break away and play down. I seriously doubt that this would dissolve the GLIAC as a football conference...again, but sweeping changes could occur as to who is playing who.
I've Gotta Calm Down Over the past couple of day though I have shamefully realized that I have been doing what my man Tony Femino calls "mouth breathing" on his foreign affairs Voice to America Talk Show. (Memo to HC: Get TF to a CCA. He is great). We're all in a huff about something that might never happen. D2 might split. Get the plastic wrap and the duck tape and turn on Fox news to see if we are up to orange or purple or red threat levels.
What happens next? “The task force’s charge was to give the membership some options that would provide championship opportunities for schools that can’t afford to fund 36 equivalencies,” said task force Chair Jerry McGee, president of Wingate University. “But it’s important to understand that this is not a done deal. We know that many people believe that Division II football is fine as it is, and they will have an opportunity to vote to that effect in January.” (NCAA News)
There you go. Options are on the table. The PSAC and RMAC's reduction in scholarships attempts have been thwarted twice. Here is a new idea. Let's see what the rest of the people who are also part of D2 think what is best for the division.
So there. That is the big topic in D2 football circles. The more I think about this thing, the more I think of it as an asteroid floating around out there that might hit Earth. It could happen and that possibility is scary, but the likeliness is still a long way off...at least January.
Oh yeah, the NCAA wants also to change regions...again. Wait until I show you what the new map might look like.
Please leave your comments below and let me know what YOU think.
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