"But what happens? The teams that become TV stars want it all for themselves. Like dogs in the manger. The more they get the better they get. The better they get the more ABC wants them. The more TV dates they get the more money they get the better they get. Round and round. Since the 1960s, the rich have become outrageously rich, and the poor fight for scraps. It's what my friend calls the Vidiot Factor. It will wreck half the teams in Division I if somebody doesn't stop it."
"How do you?" I asked, enthralled.
"Number one, everybody must adopt the Big Eight's plan for dispersing television and bowl money. Anytime a Big Eight team makes the tube or gets a bowl check, it goes into the league pot, to be shared equally. The exposure, the value of being 'on,' is extra reward enough—no telling how great. Certainly Nebraska hasn't suffered. Most conferences already have a share-the-wealth plan, but there is no continuity. The Pac-8 has the worst: the two competing teams share 40% in a national game and 60% in a regional, then each gets another one-eighth of the rest, along with the other six teams in the conference. By the time a check reaches Oregon it's about big enough to treat the team to a Burger King.
"Next thing you do is balance the major conferences numerically. Rearrange the floor plan. Make all of them 10 or 11 teams strong, so that the sharing is not only equal among the teams within the leagues but between teams in different leagues."
"Rearrange the floor plan?"
"Put Georgia Tech back in the Southeastern Conference and Miami of Ohio in the Big Ten, providing Miami agrees to add some seats. Miami already knows how to beat the Big Ten teams, it just needs stadium parity. Add South Carolina, East Carolina, Virginia Tech and West Virginia to the Atlantic Coast. Put North Texas State and Memphis State in the Southwest—Memphis is right across the river from Arkansas. Add Tulsa and the Air Force to the Big Eight. Move Arizona and Arizona State out of the Western Athletic Conference and into the Pacific-8 where they really belong, and balance the WAC by adding San Jose State—which has a new stadium in the works—San Diego State, Utah State and Pacific. Now do you begin to see the pattern? Now with the addition of a 12th game—"
"A what? Wait a minute, Coach. You're way ahead again. I don't see the pattern. I don't see parity in TV money. Two or three conferences dominate the scheduling, and the independents don't share with anybody. Notre Dame takes it home in bushel baskets."
The Coach squinted at me and grinned.
"You bring up points I should have made, Scribe, but I have not overlooked them. With the conferences thus aligned, it would be no skin off ABC's nose to give each one at least two dates a year, national or regional. That wouldn't preclude the viewers' getting their fill of the USCs and Texases. Then you wind up with a group of 11 major independents—Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Penn State, Miami of Florida, Syracuse, Florida State, Boston College, Tulane, Southern Mississippi, Army and Navy. When any of these schools gets a TV game, it has to split with the others."
"Notre Dame would go through the roof."