Georgia blog Get The Picture linked to an article in the Indy Star where our friends in the Pac-10 have introduced a proposal to make the game a little less competitive in the name of saving a few thousand bucks a year.
As part of its cost containment measures, the conference has introduced legislation that would prohibit schools from housing football teams in hotel rooms the night before home games. The Division I legislative council will vote on the proposal, and several others, at January's NCAA convention in Atlanta.
"But Pete," I'm sure you're rushing to the comment box to write, "what does that have to do with competition?"
Sure, the framing of the issue might seem a bit sensationalist, but let's be realistic: the NCAA does not mandate that teams house their players at hotels before home games. That's something that's completely within the purview of each team. And virtually all of the teams do it. The Pac-10 has proposed the legislation because some of their team want to stop paying the price, but they don't want to be at a competitive disadvantage.
What's the advantage of the practice?
"To say there aren't distractions on a campus like Indiana University on a Friday night is crazy,'' [Indiana Head Coach Bill] Lynch said. "Whether they are living in a residence hall or in an off-campus apartment, there are going to be some parties going on until the middle of the night. Sometimes I'm not so worried about our guys taking part, but just all of the distractions and not being able to concentrate on the game the next day.''
Lynch said players assemble at Memorial Stadium on Friday afternoon, have a walk-through and then are bused to the hotel. They have position and team meetings and are together in a controlled environment.
"I think it's a tremendous advantage and something we would like to be able to hold on to,'' Lynch said.
As someone who spent three years at IU trying, in vain, to study, I can personally attest to the truth of Coach Lynch's words.
You know that the Pac-10 believes the disadvantage would exist, too, because otherwise they'd just individually stop the practice on their own. What they don't want, is to have to deal with these distractions for their home games and then travel to visit a team that is keeping their players focused by putting them in hotels.
The disingenuous claim that this would "integrate athletes more fully with the student body" is patently ridiculous. This is about one thing and one thing only: keeping others from doing absolutely everything they can do to win games in order to help some schools save money.
The amount that we're talking about is pretty trivial, too: $40,000-$50,000 annually per school. You could knock that off of a head coach's salary and nobody would bat an eye.
In a lot of ways, this mirrors the push for rules to keep coaches on campus during the spring evaluation period (i.e. "The Saban Rule") -- some teams can't (or don't want to) compete at the highest level, but rather than absorbing the competitive disadvantage, they petition to keep anyone else from doing so. It's just another inch-by-inch way to drag Division I college football down to the lowest common denominator.