If the Power 5 conferences decide to break away from the NCAA so they can have their own rules the presumption is a lot will change. I think reality is that very little will change for the college football fan.
Should the Power 5 break off, they will hope to continue on with schedules similar to what they play now, as would the rest of the I-A football. (Side note: Should the non-Power 5 refuse to play the Power 5, this could be a sticking point in the move to autonomy OR it would result in a major change to scheduling and therefore the sport, perhaps for the better.) So week to week we’d be talking about the same games and story-lines. The fact players might be compensated with a stipend of some sort won’t change how we view or cover the sport on a week to week basis.
Would Power 5 schools gain a leg up in recruiting? Yes. Yes they would.
Do they need it? No. No they don’t. Check out the Rivals.com recruiting rankings from this past year if you don’t believe me. USF (#39) is the only non-Power 5 school in the top 58!!! In 2013, USF was the highest ranked, but even lower at #49!
In all-likelihood all autonomy (and the perks that would come with it for the football player) would insure is that the top ranked recruiting schools would all be from the Power 5. That isn’t much of a change however.
The non-Power 5 would presumably no longer have access to the College Football playoff if there were to be a separation. Yeah, and…? A non-Power 5 school has next to no chance of ever making the playoff as it is. It would take a perfect storm to even get into consideration for a non-Power 5 team. There are 5 Power conferences and only 4 teams making the playoff so at least one champ from a Power conference will be denied access to the playoff. In some years, maybe 2 or 3 conferences will be left out.
The money in college football might move around and be redistributed differently. We might have a few new wrinkles. Most of that will effect players or coaches. But how we watch the sport, and I mean from either the perspective of a fan of a Power 5 school or a non-Power 5, won’t change much. The quality of play and attention paid to certain teams and conferences will be exactly the same as it is now.
Whether you are a UCF fan or a UF fan, have no fear, you’ll be entertained by the same game. Autonomy is a big scary word, but it won’t change college football much for you.