David White

David White: NCAA yields, just as Pat Hill feared

Pat Hill was right.

Twelve years ago, we sat on the mowed knoll on the shaded side of a Fresno State football practice and talked about there always being more tunnel at the end of the tunnel.

Twice a year, Pat was good for one of these long post-practice conversations, his stream of conscience rolling uninterrupted from stadium expansion to Boise State to no one appreciates him to who cares about winning the WAC anyways?

Eventually, Pat hundred-mile stared off to the east, as if seeing the future on the other side of them there hills. What he saw was the end of competitive balance in Division I football as we've known it.

"You think I'm crazy, Dave, just watch," Pat would always say, with me never really arguing the former point.

The BCS conferences are going to break away and make their own rules, Pat would say, making that face Uncle Rico always made when talking football on Napoleon Dynamite.

"We better find a way to latch onto that train, or we're going to get left behind," Pat would warn.

Sure, Pat, I would knowingly nod. The NCAA is just going to let the big conferences play by their own rules while the Fresno States of the house get left at the kiddie table.

Well, guess what?

Pat Hill was right.

The five richest conferences in college football just got handed their cake, both sliced for eating and unsliced for having, too.

To say the NCAA voted to give the Power Five conferences autonomy to operate as they please ... well, that's like saying the bank tellers voted to hand over the money when staring at the business end of a sawed-off. Because, of course they did.

What else was the Division I Board of Directors going to do? The 64 schools in the richest five football conferences (with a Notre Dame on top) were getting their way, with or without permission. The NCAA wasn't hammering out terms of agreement last week; it was negotiating the terms of its surrender.

Ding, dong, the NCAA is dead. So is every football program not in the Power Five -- and that would include you, Fresno State.

The always-haves get to pay their athletes. The never-hads don't.

The Power Five can make up their own rules, and have the capital to cover the overhead. The Powerless Leftovers can change their rules to keep up, but who has the scratch to match tenders against the Power Five billionaires with a buh-?

The Big 12 commissioner said this was about "higher education." Except, he misspelled "hire." And before anyone says this is for the athletes, let's be clear:

This is about the Power Five getting the best athletes so they can be the best football programs and make the most money. Period. For all they care, all the non-Power Five athletes can go Dumpster dive at the local doughnut shop to make ends meet.

Fresno State and Friends just became official second-rate citizens of the state. The Bulldogs were never going to land four-star recruits in the first place. But, they always gleaned from the backend of Pac-12 recruiting classes.

It used to be: come to Fresno State and start, or go to Cal and hope you eventually play. Now it's: come to Fresno State and start, or go to Cal and get paid extra benefits whether you start or not.

Remember how broke you were at age 17? There's a reason you always signed up for a credit card at the quad on the first day of college, and it wasn't just for the lousy free shirt.

At these new rates, you'd pick Utah over Fresno State 10 times out of nine, and you know it. So much for the non-power schools having a fighting chance in the new championship playoff system.

Call Pat Hill crazy, as long as you call him right.

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