With the restructuring and reshuffling that has taken place over the past year in college football, the so-called power conferences have been — if this is even possible — taking their pomposity to new levels.
Flush with cash-filled coffers stuffed to the point of overflowing, the Gang of Five (Big 12, Big Ten, ACC, Pac-12 and SEC), led by syndicate head Bob Bowlsby of the Big 12 and backed up by his capo, Jim Delany of the Big Ten, have been spouting off about splitting away from the NCAA and forming their own power consortium, leaving behind the so-called non-power conferences (Conference USA, Mid-American Conference, Sun Belt, Mountain West, American Athletic Conference).
Well, not completely leave them behind, because those annoying pip-squeaks still are needed to pad the win totals of the G5. However, leave them behind in every other meaningful way such as in sharing bowl revenues.
It seems some among the Unfortunate 5 conferences still are afraid to speak up and rock the boat, content to be passengers cast adrift without life jackets in exchange for a large payday.
But thankfully, not everyone is willing to play that game and some are willing to speak up, well, at least one is anyway.
Former Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Todd Monken is entering his first year as head coach at Southern Mississippi and he minced no words on the subject at Conference USA Media Days.
“I would propose to (the power conferences) this: If you want to split off, let’s just do it that way, but you play each other, and you don’t get to play us then,” Monken was quoted as saying by the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
And he wasn’t finished.
“Some of those teams get bowl eligible when they go 2-6 in their league and they go 6-6,” he said. “Well, you’ll be 2-10 or 3-9 and it won’t feel so damn salty.”
Fact is, Monken is right on the mark. Look over the schedules of teams from the Gang of 5 and see how they load up on schools from the Unfortunate 5 — always at home mind you. They have no trouble counting those games in their win totals in order to get to a bowl game.
But Monken also calls out those schools.
“Schools at our level, until we get done prostituting ourselves, are never going to really see those teams come play you,” he said.
Oh, but they are indeed being played in another sense.
“I’d love to play Auburn at home, they’re not coming,” he said.
“I bet you’ll find the records of schools in our league are pretty good when they get to play teams at home. They just don’t get to play them because they need the money or someone else will do it.”
Keep Monken’s words in mind next time you hear the G5 pontificating. And remember how many of their wins came at the expense of the very teams they are trying to marginalize.
Where would many of these schools be without fattening up on some homecooking against teams from the non-power conferences? Likely sitting home for the holidays with their coaches scouring the job boards.
The schools from the non-power conferences have plenty of leverage. They need to tell the G5 “all in or all out.”
Ruthenberg is sports editor at the News & Eagle. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.