The Pac-10’s (and SEC’s) war on football

You don’t need to stay in a hotel or release a media guide. How do I know? The Pac-10 says so!

The Pac-10 continues its assault on major college football. This time it has introduced a proposed rule to ban home teams from using a hotel the night before a game. According to the NCAA, “The Pac-10 cited cost containment as the primary reason for sponsoring the proposal (No. 2009-73). Schools can spend thousands of dollars for one night in a hotel, adding up to tens of thousands over a season’s six or seven home games. The change would also help integrate student-athletes more fully with the general student body, the conference said.”

Cost containment is the excuse for several proposals from the Pac-10. According to NCAA Champion Magazine, “Some of the more ambitious measures come from the Pac-10, which is proposing a package that would eliminate foreign tours, media guides and overnight hotel stays before home football games. The Pac-10 also wants nontraditional-season competition to count toward maximum contest limits in all sports.”

Even the SEC has joined the idiotic crusade to cut costs.

Yes. The conference that just signed obscene contracts with CBS and ESPN wants to contain costs. One of the SEC’s proposals deals with media guides too. While the PAC-10 wants to eliminate the guides, the SEC wants to reduce the pages and stop providing the guides to recruits. According to the NCAA, “The SEC media guide proposal would reduce printing costs by eliminating information not essential to working media and decreasing the number distributed, said SEC Associate Commissioner Greg Sankey.”

What is happening here is that losers are trying to regulate the way winners in the college football economy conduct business. If there were no benefit to media guides, then nobody would print them. But since there is a benefit, schools that suck at football want to tell those who make millions how to suck too. Like most initiatives to impair what little freedom exists in markets, these Pac-10 (and SEC) proposals are designed to exploit the economic recession to further other goals–just like the losers on the recruiting trail in the SEC pushed the Saban rule.

But markets/people are pesky. They find ways around irritating regulations. According to the article, “Historically, we have made several runs at cost containment. Unfortunately, you do that, and try to bring some sanity to expenditures, and after a fairly limited amount of time, the competitive race resumes and it seems like you lost,” he said. “You have to do what you need to do in the immediate future, and then try to remember that you did it in part for sanity and solid business practices and try to resist the urge to go back to competitive measures that undermine the effort you made in the first place.”

In other words, human nature trumps every attempt to restrain it with pointless regulation. College athletic departments are multimillion dollar businesses. Each program is unique and has its own requirements. Let these unique programs pursue the unique goals to meet their unique needs. For some athletic departments, it will make sense to cut these costs. For other athletic departments, these costs are a necessary part of doing business. Let the college football marketplace decide if media guides or hotel stays are useful. This is not a matter of equity. This is simple budgetary priorities, and should not be regulated by the NCAA.