June Jones' Small Conference Secession Idea Is Brilliant, but It Just Won't Work

Adam Kramer@kegsneggsNational College Football Lead WriterJuly 23, 2014

USA Today

Football, all year round.

No offseason, no breaks; just food, screaming irrational responses to your television and meaningful games spread throughout the calendar. If it were up to SMU head coach June Jones—and roughly every football individual on this football-obsessed planet—we'd already be there.

The NFL season would end, and then the non-Power Five programs would immediately report to camp. Games would begin in March or so, and another season—with its own unique platform, network deals and audiences—would run through the start of summer.

These games would end, those schools would break and then the Power Five programs would grab the baton for fall practice. The season would play out, the College Football Playoff would be decided and then the entire process would start again after the Super Bowl.

Networks would gladly pick up these games, knowing we simply could not resist the urge to watch more football. We slave over glorious MAC football on weekday nights during the season. Imagine giving #MACtion—and its endless touchdown magnificence—a string of Saturday nights all to itself.

Dec 6, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Bowling Green Falcons flag waves after defeating Northern Illinois Huskies 47-27 to win the MAC Championship at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Our football appetites would be satisfied each month throughout the year. And conferences and programs outside the Power Five would get the recognition they so rightly deserve, growing their brands and fanbases in our current offseason. It would be perfect.

Can you see it? Taste it? Smell it? Soak in the possibilities of tailgating in June for real-life football.

Now, snap out of it.

Even you, June Jones, although we thank you for highlighting a concept that has garnered some cult-like momentum while discussing Division II and III in the past. As enticing and inviting as this scenario might be—and goodness, its potential cannot be stressed enough—it remains a complete and utter impossibility.

It's still being discussed, though.

Jones went on WDAE-AM late last week and campaigned—albeit casually and informally—for this movement, per Brett McMurphy of ESPN:

I think the have-nots [non-Power Five leagues] should go ahead and move to the spring just like the USFL did. I think that there's an opportunity to do a complete other side of that division and I think that if we don't think that way as a group of have-nots, we're going to get left behind. ...

... You make your own rules at that point. Football is the No. 1 sport on television right now and the advertisers want live programming. They don't want Hollywood shows because you can TiVo out the commercials. Live programming is a hot topic right now and I think there's a market for bigger numbers for the non-BCS teams.

As you might imagine, the responses poured in.

Commissioner Mike Aresco of the American Athletic Conference, which SMU competes in, told McMurphy he had "no interest" in changing seasons. Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson and MAC commissioner Jon Steinbrecher of the MAC echoed this sentiment only shortly after the sound bites began to make their rounds.

Jones also followed up with a statement to his statement, although he didn't necessarily back down from his stance. He simply reiterated—likely after a few phone conversations—that this was his opinion and not that of the school he coaches for (via FootballScoop.com):

My recent comments about the non-"Group of Five" conferences possibly moving their football seasons to the spring were my own, and not those of SMU or the American Athletic Conference. Not being in one of these leagues creates unique challenges, and requires us to think out of the box. My comments were an example of this, and, I hope, triggered others to do so as well.

Our conference experienced a great deal of national success in its first season. Two teams were ranked in the top 15 of the final AP poll and five were selected for bowl games. At SMU, we strive for that same level of success and will compete for American Athletic Conference Championships. We want to compete with and beat teams from the "Group of Five."

The reality for Jones—the future he sees, even if he won't directly paint this doomsday picture—is that we're about to embark on a new, resource-driven era of college football. His program, along with the others he competes directly against, will soon be at a greater disadvantage than before.

Power Five conferences will soon be granted autonomy, meaning they will be able to operate under their own set of guidelines and rules. The NCAA's board of directors will vote on this in early August, and the hovering sentiment is that it will pass without much issue.

With this newfound power will come a playoff system that has hammered away at the importance of strength of schedule since its inception. While the bowl season will remain intact, the postseason—despite an increase in yearly vacancies—will favor teams playing in conferences with perceived tougher competition.

The loss of computers is a loss for the future Boise States. At least, that's how it's being packaged and sold right now. As a result, smaller conferences and schools will have to be creative in how they market, something the MAC has been successful at in recent years.

This creativity will have to take place with branding, however, and not with a spring season. There simply is too much working against such a radical (but clever) approach.

For starters, there would be a huge dose of perceived inferiority. A move of this magnitude would directly imply that the white flag is being waved and that these conferences simply could not compete in the current model.

It's why conference commissioners outside the Power Five have voiced their immediate disgust over the idea of moving shop. You can't blame them one bit for doing so either. It's the business they run, and they must defend it.

More so than perception and conference power aligning, however, is the sheer logistical disarray that this would spark. The list is long, starting with the academic calendar that has a clear start and end date that would fall smack-dab in the middle of a movement such as this.

Eugene Tanner/Associated Press

And then there are things like the bowl season, which is contract-oriented and features an abundance of teams beyond the main conferences. And what about the NFL draft, which, despite its now floating date that will eventually push the event deeper into the year, would certainly conflict in various ways? And what about the recruiting calendar, which would feel the effects as well?

That sound you hear in the distance is the NCAA breaking its jaw from excessive clenching while weighing "amateur" status with active players.

There are also scheduling woes to consider and the prospects of operating with all Power Five teams out of the picture. This is something the bigger conferences could push for going forward—choosing to play themselves and only themselves—although it won't happen overnight.

The list of complications could easily continue, from the painfully obvious to tedious matters of stadium availability. The obstacles are everywhere, and our dream to enjoy football year-round would require measures that will not be taken.

For that reason—and all of the negatives you could possibly think of—June Jones will continue to coach his players in the fall, which is a fine alternative. While the brilliant possibilities of his suggestion are clear, too many 10,000-pound dominoes won't fall.

That also doesn't mean it's a bad ideawild, extreme and out-of the-box, certainly, but not bad. The intentions are intact.

At the very least, Jones broached a handful of topics that will require addressing, including a market that can be nurtured and grown. And with the Power Five poised to sweeten its own university-controlled pot, the challenges of competing against these schools will become more daunting.

The answer to these questions isn't a spring season—not in our wildest, football-driven dreams. But that doesn't make the prospects of an offseason-less world any less inviting.

Oh, what a wonderful world it would be.


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