Gene Smith is vocally leading a charge that some significant changes need to happen to major college football
"Frankly, we need to change our structure. We're trying to serve too many beasts here...352 [Division I] schools. It's been our problem for years," he shared in a recent interview with Athletic Director U.
Smith's suggestion starts with major college football, because that's where it seems clearest that the current model isn't working.
Recently, Smith has gone on the record talking about one possible solution being the College Football Playoff stepping in to take control of the FBS ranks.
"FBS are the schools that offer 85 scholarships or more. There is a clear distinction with the investment that those schools make, and everybody else. So to me, when you take 130 schools, as opposed to the 352, those 130 schools who have the same mission and the same investment level, and you can create your own rules - your recruiting rules, your personnel rules and your calendar of what football looks like."
"You don't touch anything else. The basketball tournament stays the same, your olympic sport competitions stay the same, the NCAA still manages your academics and the eligibility center. But for those schools, we can create our own rules and have our own commissioner or executive director"
"To me, that's a model that allows us to decentralize intercollegiate athletics with those schools that are making the same investment in football, because at the end of the day, that's what annoys us."
Smith goes on to talk about how he loves other sports, using synchronized swimming as an example, but politicians aren't making rules for the sake of swimming and the folks that should be making decisions about major college football should be those with the most skin in the game.
He believes that if that structure were in place now, we wouldn't have the types of NIL issues we're facing today.
"At the end of the day, we need to separate ourselves and create our own structure that allows us to move faster, to move expeditiously. If that structure was in place right now with NIL, we'd have already fixed the inducement part. We'd have dealt with it, because we could have our own enforcement inside, or we could third-party it where we could say 'This is the highest priority. Go and fix it.'"
Smith's argument makes a lot of sense on a number of different fronts, and towards the end of the interview he seemed to really pound the table for changes because what we're currently doing isn't working...and it's getting tougher and tougher to find folks that believe in the way we're currently operating.
"I just think that Division I has been too big for too long. Years ago when my colleagues and I were fighting for cost of attendance, to change our scholarship model, it took us years to get there because other schools voted against it. With all due respect to those schools, they aren't us. They aren't writing about those schools, the politicians aren't talking about those schools."
"We need to recognize that we're different and we need to set up a structure to pay tribute to that difference because with the diversity that we're trying to serve under the tent of NCAA Division I, it doesn't work. It works for basketball and the basketball tournament, and it works for baseball and track or tennis, but it doesnt work for football."
"Let's just face the music and change it."
Hear more from Gene Smith in the clip.