College Football Playoff: Small Schools Sell Their Competitive Souls for Cash

Michael FelderNational CFB Lead WriterJune 27, 2012

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 01:  Wide receiver Drisan James #11 of the Boise State Broncos runs by linebacker Zach Latimer #46 of the Oklahoma Sooners in the second quarter at the Tostito's Fiesta Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 1, 2007 in Glendale, Arizona. The Broncos defeated the Sooners 43-42 in overtime. (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

The playoff is here, and everyone can be happy, right? No, not really.

Unless you're in the Pac-12, Big Ten, SEC or Big 12, what are you really rooting for? If you are just happy that there will be more games to entertain you, then great, root on.

However, if you're a fan with a legitimate interest in what's best for your school, today cannot be a good day as the dust settles and the playoff realities set in.

If you're in the ACC, perhaps with Florida State, Virginia Tech and Clemson on the rise, there is not a truly gripping fear. Just a need to get better.

If you're in the Big East, there should be some legitimate worry. Losing West Virginia, the best team in the league of the BCS era once Miami left, is a major blow. Losing the automatic qualifying bids is a shot across the bow from a financial standpoint. 

More importantly, if you're in a small conference, you have to be looking around thinking, "What the hell just happened to us?"

No automatic qualifier for your conference champs in the Top 14 or 16. No guaranteed playoff access. Two of the best schools, Utah and TCU, now reside in infinitely better big-time leagues. The WAC's on the verge of dissolving.

Perhaps you're not paying attention—none of these are actually good things for the little guy.

There is merely one, solitary positive when it comes to this new move—the straight cash. Basically as the level of cash rises their level of access decreases, and they are cool with that. As Dennis Dodd at CBS Sports opines:

Hush money in shoulder pads.

Very well put, because that is exactly what it is. The MAC, MWC, Sun Belt and Conference-USA might not get anywhere near this newfangled playoff—but hey, at least they are going to get paid more.

Hate on the BCS all you like, at least they put measures in to put the little guy on the stage. That was something that was never the case before, and going forward it may not be the case again.

Ultimately they are proving that it is not about wins and losses. If wins and losses mattered, the commissioners from the small stage would not have kowtowed to the whims of the big boys. Rather, with the dollar numbers hanging on the horizon, they took their medicine with the spoonful of sugar that only cash can provide. 

“It’s those five conferences who have invested the most, have the largest stadiums and create the television marquee. We just want to be sure we get a little more proportionate share.” 

Those are comments made to ESPN by Gary Ransdell, President of Western Kentucky and member of the oversight committee. The small schools get it; the big teams drive the bus from a television standpoint. Instead of fighting for a level playing field, they are acknowledging where they stand and just hoping for a little more cash. 

Odds are against us seeing a team from outside the power leagues in the playoff in the near future. Let's hope that with the bottom line increases that are to come the schools do something worthwhile with their hush money.