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Cartel-ish in the long run.

Brian provides toothy points on the APR over at MGoBlog, calling bullshit on our APR/NCLB comparison:

Orson's analogy to No Child Left Behind is inapt. NCLB, oddly, takes money from failing schools. The APR takes students, leaving behind a smaller corps of kids the Idahos (Idahoes? In your area codes?) of the world can fail.

Technically, they are taking scholarships, which is money spent on the open market of recruiting athletes on your depth chart, which in turn kills your ability to compete, etc, etc. It damages a school's ability to compete if they cannot beef up on the academic support side. NCLB is a perfect comparison because, rather than offer some ameliorative way out of failing status, it simply stamps FAIL on a program until it pulls itself up by its own bootstraps, just as the APR does.

The inexactitude lies in the subject compared: education versus having a football program. As Brian points out, having a division one football program is not a right. (Unless you're in the SEC. But Brian sagely points that out, too.) However, the reason the APR chafes me is its inexactitude and susceptibility to manipulation by larger schools who may tip the scales with boundless tutoring and academic support programs to support comparable marginal academic cases who fail out at what we suppose we can call the Florida International Select Level of college football.

The college football universe already tilts toward Mammon. Unlike some, we're not troubled by this. We're a big, swaggering, swinishly capitalist country, and our universities appropriately follow suit.

College football is business. The APR is a small but pesky protective tariff/tax/duty that raises start-up costs for small universities to an even higher level than the current exorbitant tag. There might be too many programs in Division One, but frankly, that's for the market to determine, not a wiggly proclamation from the Kiwanis Club of college athletics, the NCAA. (And by wiggly we mean exactly the points Brian cites via Bruce Feldman: the waiver exemptions, the 66 schools who promised to "do better.")

Looking long-term, it has a faint aroma of cartel behavior. That is the bad part. It's not injustice; no one outside the locker room will weep more than six tears if Florida International takes a dive to D-1AA. They may not deserve to exist, but they should be given the same allowances, waivers and understanding other member schools are afforded. Ticket sales determine the rest.

(Now, back to writing about RoboWoodyHayes rising from hell to wreak vengeance on Columbus. BTW, if the Big Ten is one half of the mini-cartel consigning college football to a non-playoff existence, they are at least a benevolent one: they're outpacing all other schools in the EDSBS/Fanblogs charity drive by bounds. Praise Delany and his conference's generosity, and praise the Rose Bowl!)