10. Stop the Clown Proposals
The BCS doesn't want any mid-major in their bowls. The last proposal made the MWC rep look like a clown. It had no support outside his own conference.
The proposals can lead to changes detrimental to the mid majors. If the change is based on a proposal originating from a mid major representative, the BCS insulates itself from the results.
During the last proposal from the mid majors the BCS did like the idea of doing away with the formula and moving to a selection board - of their choosing. The BCS was interested in the requirement a mid major conference win at least 40% of at least 20 games against the majors - as an additional requirement to the existing criteria.
11. Up the Appearance Fees
In the current 12 game season, the majors have settled on an average of about 9 games against the other majors, 1 against an FCS team, and 2 against the mid majors. Finances have the FCS game and the 2 against the mid majors typically a home game. Fan support generally prevents dropping the game against other majors or increasing the number of FCS teams. This leaves about 2 games per mid major team.
The average stadium for the majors seats over 65,000 fans. I suspect the average ticket price is over $40 and over $5/person in concession sales - this would give expected revenue in the area of $3 Million. I would expect the lower end to be over half this amount. The largest where ticket prices frequently exceeding $50 would be expected to exceed the $6 Million mark.
Yet a mid major appearance fee approaching $1 Million is the exception, not the norm.
The mid majors can preserve the market by limiting the number of games against FCS teams to 1 per program - not a huge issue now with very few majors scheduling 2 FCS teams a season, but perhaps a major issue in the future. By conceding the 1 game per season, they limit the protest from the majors.
This is an easy sale to the NCAA to assist the financially strapped mid majors. The BCS bowls would be favorable to making this a condition of their invite system - they are looking for more games between the majors and mid majors in the hopes of limiting the number of mid major appearances in the BCS. Few majors schedule more than 1 FCS team a year making this an easy change for them.
The mid majors can preserve the market by working to minimizing the number of conference games the majors play. The PAC10, SEC, and ACC have adopted or are considering 9 conference games a year. If it expanded to the Big 12 there would be 46 fewer OOC games, at least some of the games against the mid majors will be lost.
Publicly the mid majors can hold meetings on their expansion to 9 conference games, rejecting the idea at the end. Using the publicity they can publicize the downside of the 9th conference game to the fans. Behind the scenes, they can discuss the issue with the major conferences, detailing the downside.
With the market secured, the mid majors can work together to increase their appearance fees as much as legally possible.
They might require conference approval to schedule more than 2 games a year against the majors (preserving the value of high profile teams while spreading the wealth among the entire conference) or require revenue sharing for 3 or more games.
They can limit the bottom end of the appearance fee to $400,000
If the 5 mid majors could show they can actually work together at something more than griping to the other entities, they could use the conference contract approval or similar tool to push the appearance fees up to 30% or more of the expected ticket and concession revenue.
It is the net revenue that matters. The travel costs for a football program across country can be substantial. Sorry fans, but for equal payouts it is cheaper to play local teams. Where applicable, they can try to establish relationships with the local major conferences.
It would help if the mid-majors weren't constantly fighting with, griping to, and threatening court action against the NCAA, BCS, and majors.
12. Imagination and Urgency
The mid majors need to act with urgency. Lucrative conference television contracts for the majors are increasing the disparity. The mid majors are primarily limited to the lower bowls because of their continued poor TV ratings. The fan interest of the mid majors is not improving in proportion to their increased success.
Over time the disparity in revenue will affect facilities, staffs, recruiting, and eventually performance.
The number of games against the majors is threatened, decreasing the appearance fee the mid majors can demand.
Support from fans and sports writers may be diminishing. The number of articles against changes to the BCS is increasing. Recent proposals presented to the BCS have been ridiculed. Belittling the teams of the majors hasn't helped the mid majors gain overall fan support any more than the clown proposals, threat of law suits, etc.
The mid majors need new approaches and strategies. The tactics that provided gains in the past are no longer working. With few gains expected from the outside, the mid majors need to focus internally.
Promoting the games between mid major opponents is an example of an internal innovative change. Individually these games have nominal fan interest. The answer may be to change the context in which these games are played.
An example would be to mimic the inter conference basketball tournaments. In a given weekend 2 mid major conferences face off. A face off between the MWC and the WAC would draw a lot of interest outside the conferences involved. If scheduled at the beginning of the year, the interest could carry over thru the regular season. In this context, even 2 middle conference teams playing each other become significant.
This could also be the basis for a series between a mid major and major conference in the same region noted above. Details and logistics can be found in this old blog Making Week 2 and 3 Awesome in NCAAF It references a format between 2 major conferences, but could be applied to 2 mid majors.
Also refer to 12 Needed Changes for the Mid Majors - Part 1
1. Quit crying to the BCS
2. Quit griping to the NCAA
3. The Best of the Rest Invite
4. Forget the Courts Anti-Trust Suits
5. Forget about Political Intervention
6. Promote Themselves
7. Forget about a Mid Major Qualifying for an Auto Invite to the BCS
8. Forget about a Playoff
9. Combine Their Marketing to the Bowls
Let me know your thoughts, and thanks for reading.