June Jones Wants Small Schools To Play Football In Spring
In a radio interview with sportstalk station WDAE-AM, June Jones made big waves in the small pond that makes up the mid-major conferences. SMU fans and fans of other schools in the American Athletic Conference listened intently and then muttered a deep sigh.
“I think the have-nots [non-Power Five leagues] should go ahead and move to the spring just like the USFL did.”
As the Internet caught up to the radio interview, fans of schools in Conference USA, the Mid-American, Mountain West and Sun Belt conferences joined them.
Indeed, his idea was immediately shot down by his own league commissioner, Mike Aresco.
“We have no interest in doing that and have no plans to discuss or look into it. Our position is clear. We are an integral part of the fabric of FBS college football. Our conference is and will be extremely competitive and our goal is to play at the highest level, compete for playoff and host bowl spots and challenge the Power Five. We want to be in the power conference conversation and, sooner than later, be regarded as the sixth power conference.”
It isn’t that I can’t come up with perfectly understandable reasons for Jones to make these statements. Doesn’t every coach want to have a shot at winning a national title? Does SMU stand a chance in today’s football landscape under the current playoff system? Probably not. Doesn’t his team have to compete for the same live TV spots as the SEC and Pac-12?
If they could play in the spring, they would have to compete for live TV spots with the NBA, with March Madness, with MLB, and the NHL. I even get that he may believe that the split could make college football more competitive than ever.
But where would college football be without games like 2007’s Appalachian State (then Southern Conference, now Sun Belt) vs Michigan game?
Not only would a move like this eliminate those instant classics, it would almost certainly widen the gap that already exists between the FCS “below” and the FBS “above” these conferences. And what about the logistics of the NFL Draft? Players from these leagues go pro every year. Do they declare for the draft before their season? During their season? Continue to play through the draft?
So what exactly is Jones’ end game? Is he looking to resurrect a college version of the failed USFL? Is he looking to cause waves and generate some press for his Mustangs? Or has he just resigned himself and his team to irrelevance by suggesting that five conferences give up on this year’s playoff system before it has even begun?