The Big 12 version of Media Days doesn't attract nearly as much attention as the circus that surrounds the SEC, but Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby did his best to attract attention by lobbing a bomb at cheating in recruiting and predicting a Brave New World ahead for college football especially and college athletics in general.
In an apparent shot at both the NCAA and the state of recruiting in conferences like the SEC, where cheating is thought to be rampant, Bowlsby trashed the system:
Enforcement is broken. The infractions committee hasn't had a hearing in almost a year, and I think it's not an understatement to say that cheating pays, presently. If you seek to conspire to certainly bend the rules, you can do it successfully and probably not get caught in most occasions.
SB Nation recently chronicled the type of cheating that happens across college football by introducing readers to the bag man and that piece definitely supports Bowlsby's conclusions.
There's also a massive talent drain going on right now in the Big 12 conference -- the schools are having trouble getting Texas prospects in the state and away from the SEC, while the rest of the geographical footprint contains little talent. The fact of the matter is that unless there are major changes in the schools that the top players from Texas pick, the Big 12 as a conference will have major difficulties winning national championships or even competing for them.
In that sense, then, Bowlsby's comments come from something akin to desperation as the conference as a whole fights to remain relevant on the recruiting trail, a process that is going better for some schools, like Baylor, than it is for others.
And where does Bowlsby see things going? He wasn't explicit in his thoughts about how the visit process and signing National Letters of Intent will change, but he did mention that the Power 5 conferences forming their own governing body is a possibility:
If we can't come to a resolution that is satisfactory on enforcement and on transfers, then those become autonomous items about which the five high-visibility conferences can go our own way and devise our own system
With the financial changes that institutions are likely going to face with the prospect of paying players -- or football players at least -- the growing gap between the haves and the have nots of college football is likely going to drive a wedge through the NCAA.
And other sports will feel the impact, according to Bowlsby, including Olympic sports and the overall scholarship process:
There is change afoot, and some of it is going to be unhappy change because I think it will ultimately reduce the number of opportunities for young people to go to college and participate in sports. And I think that's an unfortunate byproduct of the lawsuits that are out there right now.
I think all of that, in the end, will cause programs to be eliminated. I think you'll see men's Olympic sports go away as a result of the new funding challenges that are coming down the pike. I think there may be tension among and between sports on campus and institutions that have different resources. I think it's really unknown at this point what the outcomes will be.
Bowlsby believes that current fans of intercollegiate athletics won't like what's coming when the status quo changes significantly in the near future.
At this point, it seems like the only question is when and how, rather than the first important question of if it will happen. Having moved past that critical stage, the future is approaching rapidly and Bowlsby didn't mince any words while pointing that out.