Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Who benefits from recruiting deregulation?

The media tend to follow conventional wisdom. Sports analysis is much so the rule than the exception. Here is case in point #342 . . .

CBS Sports is guilty in this case by failing to connect the dots to the obvious--that Alabama has more to lose than gain in the NCAA's new recruiting deregulation. 

Here is the big surprise:
But, according to al.com, Saban told Birmingham's Over the Mountain Touchdown Club at its Monday banquet that he didn't think the changes were necessary.
"I'm kind of happy with the system we have now," Saban said. "To use the idea that, 'We can't monitor it, so why don't we just make it legal?' I don't buy into that at all. It's like saying, 'People are driving too fast. We can't enforce the speed limit, so let's just take the signs down and let everyone go as fast as they want.'"
No kidding he's "kind of happy with the system we have now". So was Pan Am in 1974 happy with airline regulatory policy. Saban is effectively responding to the question should the NCAA change with, "No! I think you should stay the same wonderful person you are today." Unfortunately, this change is just a change in clothes. Real reform will be met with much more kicking and screaming.

CBS is also guilty of confusing success with wealth and power:
It has been widely speculated--including by [Georgia athletic director Greg] McGarity himself--that wealthy programs like Alabama would gain a competitive advantage over less-wealthy schools by employing whole staffs of recruiters.
Georgia is a "wealthy" program. Georgia is on the same side of this as Alabama. It is the Georgia Techs and Boise States of the world who stand the most to gain from NCAA ease up.

Looking to the example of OU and OSU, it takes one wealthy donor to elevate a program to much higher plateaus. But staying there is made very difficult in a world where competition is limited in scope and scale. By removing certain dimensions of differentiation and competitive advantage (that is by having stringent recruiting rules as there are currently), the NCAA helps Alabama, et al.