If you didn't catch it yesterday, Central Florida coach George O'Leary, one of the sport's true pillars of integrity, had some choice words for Mike Slive's arguments for power conference autonomy:
They sound like the South during the Civil War. ... If they don't get their way, they're going to secede and start their own country. ... I think college football is in real trouble. ... They're trying to go the other way and create an even wider gap between the haves and have-nots," O'Leary told the Sentinel of the Power Five and the SEC's threats. "I think some of these schools have forgotten where they came from.
Unfortunately for O'Leary, he's got the analogy closer to backwards than right. Slive does want to play by his own rules, but whereas the Confederacy fought the Civil War in the name of state's rights to uphold slavery, the power conferences want greater autonomy in part to benefit exploited student athletes by using the conferences' resources to provide athletes with compensation, better health care, etc.
Granted, O'Leary is right that power conference autonomy will create separation between power and "mid-major" conferences. Thus, not coincidentally, autonomy will hurt programs like Central Florida, which thought it had finally made the big time when the breakup of the old Big East created the conditions necessary for UCF to jump to the the American Athletic Conference. If allowed to create their own athlete-friendly regulations, power conference programs will have yet another recruiting tool at their disposal to use to make sure talented athletes come to one of their schools instead of a school that doesn't have the resources necessary to provide such benefits.
Still, such a situation will be a net plus for student athletes; at least some athletes will enjoy improved circumstances and a bigger stake in the money they earn for their institutions.
But hey, why should O'Leary let these facts stand in the way of his brilliant analogy? Certainly such facts don't negate the intrinsic historical line of descent between the Confederacy and any traditional southern institution making a power play.
I wonder if O'Leary mentioned his Princeton History Ph.D. to the reporter when he made this claim?