NEW YORK — College football’s Davids will get fewer chances to knock off the Goliaths in the coming years.
Part of the fallout of the sweeping changes coming to college sports will be a decrease in so-called guarantee games in football, where a power conference school pays hundreds of thousands of dollars to have a team from a lesser league play at its stadium.
The result will be far fewer opportunities for embarrassing blowouts (Oklahoma State 84, Savannah State 0) and startling upsets (Appalachian State 34, Michigan 32). Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said it would be good for college football and that he is “not very sympathetic” to the potential loss of revenue to the schools on the receiving end of the checks.
The commissioners of the lower-revenue conferences say losing the pay days won’t kill their leagues, and that giving players from smaller schools a chance to compete on the big stage has value.
“Traditionally, we play the Big Ten a lot,” Mid-American Conference Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher said in a phone interview Friday. “We’re in the neighborhood so that makes a lot of sense.”
MAC teams will play 13 games against Big Ten teams this season, plus four against the SEC and two each against the Big 12 and Atlantic Coast Conference, and many of them fall into the category of guarantee games.
The shift to nine-game conference schedules, along with an increased emphasis on strength of schedule for the coming College Football Playoff, all but guarantee fewer opportunities for the other five conferences (MAC, Sun Belt, Mountain West, American Athletic and Conference USA) in FBS to play the top five.
Add in the need for the power conferences to beef up their schedules to create made-for-TV matchups to justify the millions they are getting in media rights deals, plus a possible reconfiguration of Division I, and it leads to speculation that the big five will be playing exclusively among themselves at some point.