Well the NFL can't unilaterally change eligibility rules. It's a subject for collective bargaining. And the NFL has locked itself into a ten-year CBA. The NFLPA has little incentive to change the rule--veteran players don't want to lose jobs to rookies--and the union would certainly demand concessions on other issues, such as commissioner discipline. So it's politically impractical for the NFL to change things, at least for the rest of this decade.
I concede it was a flip line. Actually, I wasn't thinking about the University of Arkansas in comparison to its SEC brethren so much as Arkansas' political history of sleaze (e.g., Bill Clinton).
The "strength of schedule" referred to in the chart is apparently the NCAA's SOS formula, which is calculated by weighing a team's opponents' records 2/3 and the opponents' opponents' records 1/3.
I thank everyone for the comments. I would just reiterate that I was arguing politics here, not football or economics. If politics were not a factor, I would advocate expanding within the conference footprint, which would mean adding Florida State or even Clemson or Georgia Tech. I do not believe there's a compelling economic or football reason to go outside the footprint. But as we've seen over the past few weeks, politics plays a major role here. And my argument here is that Navy would be the safest political option for quickly adding a 14th team.
"Most sports fans will care if someone is cheating, especially when their team has to play by the rules. " Except that I question whether most fans believe they're team is "playing by the rules." I suspect that when it comes to college football, the majority of fans implicitly (if not explicitly) understand that just about every program, including their own, doesn't play by the rules 100% of the time. Each individual fan has a different threshhold for "cheating," and not all forms of rule-breaking are treated equally. Consider steroids in baseball. While it was (and remains) a major issue for the media and a minority of fans, the majority of baseball fans have clearly demonstrated it matters less to them than the quality of the on-field product. If the reverse were true, public support for baseball would have collapsed by now. Again, thank you for the comments.
Thank you for the comment. To clarify, I wasn't taking liberty to speak for anyone. I was making more of an economic observation that the majority of fans don't seem to concern themselves with scandals and NCAA rules. Of course there's a minority, including yourself, that do. I was not attempting to make an ethical determination of who is right or wrong. Nor was I taking a position on Miami's guilt or what the NCAA should do about it.
As I've discussed before, abolishing "amateurism" doesn't mean turning football players into university employees. I don't see a scenario where that ever happens. I think the most radical alternative would be for football programs to legally separate themselves from schools into related for-profit businesses. In other words, there would be a "Florida Football, Inc." that would license the university's name and logo, but the entire football operation would be run as a for-profit business. A more likely scenario is one where the NCAA is separated into different entities (as it did to some extent when it established the three-division structure) with a separate organization running football.
The Bowden quote came from a story in the August 3, 1990 Atlanta Journal-Constitution. I actually looked this up on microfilm at the library, so I don't know if it's available online.
I think history might end up repeating itself. Back in 1990, FSU was the SEC's first choice for the 12th member, but after a bunch of political maneuvering, they ended up in the ACC and after considering Miami, the SEC settled on South Carolina as the fallback. This time around, based on the media reports, FSU is clearly Slive's first choice, but I think Clemson may be the winner-by-default with Missouri as the new Miami. You can't ignore the role of the university presidents here and the extent to which they'll consider if a school is a good "fit" for the conference and vice-versa. This was the main reason Miami didn't get the invite back in 1990; culturally Miami officials thought they'd be a better fit with a more northeastern conference. Clemson may not bring as much to the table in terms of TV, but culturally it's an easier fit than Missouri.
I suggested the four-division structure, but that only works if you get rid of the NCAA or change the current rules. NCAA bylaws specify you can only have a championship game with a two-division structure where each division conducts a round-robin regular season. So if you go to 16 teams, the only permissible option is to have two eight-team divisions with a seven-game division schedule. Now, as Bosshog suggested, there doesn't seem to be any legal reason you couldn't rotate division members every year. The NCAA only requires that the division itself conduct a round-robin for a given season. But boy, that would get messy.
Under SEC bylaws, there has to be nine votes (3/4 of the current membership) to invite a new member. You would think Slive won't call for a vote he knows he can't win — then again, the ACC nearly rejected FSU 20 years ago when then-Commissioner Gene Corrigan thought he had six votes for expansion and only got three on an initial vote. It's one thing for fans to clamor for something, but when the presidents and chancellors vote, some of them may decide they want to put the brakes on this thing, especially since there's no reason they can't revisit the subject later. And if you're a school that's in the bottom half of the conference — sorry, Vanderbilt and Kentucky — why would you be in a rush to add two or four new members?
Thanks for the correction on the first point. As to the second, while A&M had a good team last season — its first ranked team since 1999, I believe — it's been an underperforming program, winning 10 games just once since joining the Big 12.
Some early thoughts — 1. I can't imagine the SEC inviting A&M without having a 14th member lined up. A 13-team league would be almost impossible to schedule with any kind of balance. 2. Even with a 14-team league, we're talking a shift in scheduling priorities. Currently everyone plays everyone at least every other year, but in a 14-team setup it's likely to be once every three years. 3. Adding one or two members means dividing up the Bowl and television money 14 or 15 ways instead of 13 (the conference gets a share in addition to each member). It's not clear what the immediate benefit is to doing this. The television contracts can't be renegotiated right away, and if and when they can be, adding A&M and an ACC school may not raise the number as much as some people think it will. 4. There's no way adding members helps the SEC with the BCS. It may not hurt it, but there's no benefit, especially if you're adding A&M, which hasn't exactly been lighting up the much weaker Big 12.