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Friday, August 5, 2011

Art Imitating Sports Imitating Art

In noting parallels between college athletics and drum corps, I've often equated DCI's Tour of Champions and the proposal that created it with the BCS. After all, the outcome of the latter and the assumed outcome of the former is to deepen the rift between the haves and have-nots. Each system rewards those already at the top of the structure, and in each case an underclass is created from which it is nigh unto impossible to emerge to a championship.

At the time of the proposal in DCI, many--myself included--asked if this was planting the seeds for secession from the league. Now, in similar fashion, there are rumblings that schools may be considering seceding from the NCAA. Accounts of exactly who differ; the BCS auto-qualifying conferences and their member institutions are an obvious break point, but it could also be a smaller subset of the truly elites: The Texas, Alabamas, and USCs of the world.

While it is a bit melodramatic to say that the NCAA is fatally flawed, it will likely be "creative differences" that lead to a secession, if one does occur. This isn't the first time such talks have been bandied about over a difference in philosophy; it has often been stated that should big-time college football seek to go to a playoff, the Big Ten and Pac-12 could very well take their ball (the Rose Bowl) and go home. This time through, a major potential impetus is over the status of the student-athlete [sic], compensation, and the rules that bind them. Interestingly enough, again, the Big Ten is among the conferences at odds with the NCAA.

Where this ends up remains to be seen. While we are less than a year into the situation in DCI, it would seem that the league acquiesced to, or at least compromised with, the desires of The Undersigned. There seem to be indications that the NCAA is willing to "examine changes," but who knows what is meant by that? What's more, if schools are thinking about it, what are the possibilities that it seems just too lucrative to pass up.

If secession were to take place, would it be altogether horrible? EDUsports examined it pretty thoroughly in a recent podcast. If it were the truly big time programs breaking off, then their football and basketball programs may more formally become what they've essentially been for years: A developmental league for the NFL/NBA, cloaked in university colors. Questions remain as to what relationship, if any, they would have to the NCAA schools. If this new offshoot played entirely within itself, we'd be seeing blockbuster matchups week in and week out. The corollary, of course, is that we'd have to get used to college football records looking more like NFL records. The undefeated season would be a relatively unknown quantity. And what of the bowls? Does this New World Order take them as well? Keep the BCS? Institute *gasp* a playoff?

Also consider this: with the big boys out of the way, the teams/corps that have to this point experienced a glass ceiling can compete for a championship. Boise State, TCU, Utah, and Hawaii have been in the close-but-no-cigar seat. TCU and Utah, of course, are trading up to try and get theirs, but those who have been allowed to gaze upon the ring but never grasp it may now compete for a championship in the new look NCAA. In DCI, consider the battles that are taking place this year both for the #8 spot (last in for the Tour of Champions in its current format) and the #12 spot (last in for World Championships). If The Undersigned were its own entity, those folks are now in a medal hunt or even battling for the top prize. And while many eyes would turn to the New World Order, the NCAA would not be without its supporters--especially now that the also-rans are now title contenders. Further, college football is among the most popular sports in the country. They'll be watching, and regardless of what new name or shape it may take, I suspect that that which we call a Rose Bowl will smell as sweet.
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