Is the SEC a group of power hungry zealots, yearning for localized control, willing to disrupt the establishment and start a new world order? Maybe, maybe not. But according to UCF head football coach George O’Leary, the Southeastern Conference sounds like history repeating itself. Per the Orlando Sentinel:
“They sound like the South during the Civil War,” O’Leary said of the SEC and the other saber-rattlers in the so-called Power 5 conferences. “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.”
From where O’Leary sits, college football is just now starting to gain parity (his team did just romp to a Fiesta Bowl victory). Now these deep-pocketed elitists want to break away from the fold and resume the status quo.
“The thing that’s disturbing is that college football has been fighting for years to create a level playing field and now they’re trying to go the other way and create an even wider gap between the haves and have-nots,” O’Leary says. “I think some of these schools have forgotten where they came from.”
He’s also tired of these smaller schools in power conferences leaching off the heavy hitters and singing all the way to the bank.
“There are two or three good teams in each of the major conferences; the rest are just members. They get a paycheck just for being in the league.”
Is the Power 5 pulling a power play? Undoubtedly. It comes with having leverage in a crumbling NCAA.
Do up-and-coming programs have a right to be frustrated? Sure. They’re only going to face more obstacles.
But, as O’Leary well knows, conference affiliations can change in the blink of an eye. After all, in his decade at UCF, the Knights have played in the MAC, Conference USA and AAC. Whose to say they aren’t next man up when the big boys come looking for fresh blood. In a few years, he may just be in Dixie.