Saber-rattling is almost always followed by a weapon being pointed at an opponent’s heart.
There is, of course, a sad irony attached to the commissioners claiming frustration with the mothership because Slive, Delany and ACC Commissioner John Swofford were among those who plundered the so-called traditions of college athletics — through conference realignment, the Bowl Championship Series and other such atrocities — in pursuit of the almighty television dollar.
For those men to bemoan the lack of leadership coming out of Indianapolis is both accurate and hypocritical. Years ago, long before Emmert’s arrival, the NCAA passed on trying to govern football. It allowed the commissioners and college presidents to continue to perpetrate the hoax that is the BCS and stood by helplessly while conferences raided one another mercilessly in the name of all that is mercenary.
Now Slive and Bowlsby are wringing their hands and saying, “The situation is so terrible that we may have to leave.”
They’re not wrong. But what they’re doing is crying “fire” and running from the burning building after lighting the match.
College athletics doesn’t need the “Division 4” Bowlsby suggested during his news conference at the Big 12 media days earlier this week. Instead, it needs a complete makeover, whether from within the NCAA or through a new organization. As incompetent as Emmert is, he is not the problem; he’s merely a symptom. He may be a lousy fireman, but no fireman is terribly effective if there’s no water.
The NCAA was asked to perform two fairly simple tasks: come up with reasonable — and enforceable — recruiting rules and figure out a way to pay for the full cost of a scholarship rather than coming up a couple thousand dollars short. That was two years ago. The NCAA is still working on it. Maybe by 2020 or so it will have a solution.
You can hardly blame anyone for being frustrated by the NCAA bureaucracy that makes it necessary to form a committee, have a discussion and take a vote on the issue of what to order for lunch. If the commissioners of the five power conferences — the SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pacific-12 and the ACC — simply take a walk and set up their own division or break away completely, they will continue to thrive, especially with the TV contracts that are now in place as their financial foundation.