LITTLE ROCK — With the college football landscape stabilized as far as conferences and geography, University of Central Arkansas coach Clint Conque talked economics Monday.
He said the day is coming that about 70 schools representing the major BCS conferences will flex their muscles and will provide pay enhancements for their athletes.
“This is going to happen and it’s likely to happen sooner than later,” Conque said during an appearance before the Little Rock Touchdown Club.
He said payment to players will be on an equity level, providing a major separation between the haves and the have-nots in NCAA Division I.
“The schools in the five major conferences and about 70 schools have the resources to do that; the talk is mostly football but there is also a big cash cow from the NCAA basketball tournament,” Conque said. “There are lots of good things happening on our campus, but I’m not sure with have an extra $3,000 or $4,000 to pay our athletes.He said the question is whether there will be new guidelines and eligibility standards for those schools.
“But once the toothpaste is out of the tube, it’s out,” he said. “So we certainly have to be careful about not going backward before going forward.”
The UCA coach, in addition to promoting his program and his university, covered a wide range of topics in what has become an annual appearance before the prestigious club heavy on Razorback fans.
ARKANSAS FOOTBALL: “I haven’t had the privilege of meeting (Arkansas coach) Bret Bielema but from what I know and hear, the program is in good hands. Be patient. It’s about recruiting and retention. There are too many resources and commitments for that program to not be competitive and maybe beyond competitive.”
THE OFFENSIVE EXPLOSION IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL: “I don’t see it being stopped without rule changes,” said Conque, in the wake of a 644-yard offensive effort in a loss Saturday to McNeese State. “They would have to outlaw the no-huddle and put in some rules that will give the defense an advantage. Right now, it’s an offensive game. At most places, selling tickets is about scoring a lot of points. I don’t see that slowing down unless there is a proven safety issue.”
FLASHY UNIFORMS: “Heck, we play on a striped field,” said Conque, whose team played in all-gray uniforms for the first time Saturday. “Now, I have nothing against Maryland, but Maryland’s uniforms are a bit extravagant — maybe off the chains. Things can get too exotic. But it’s about the student-athletes and that’s what they want. Uniforms are now a ridiculous part of recruiting.”
HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL IN ARKANSAS: “It has improved; the coaching has improved; the technology has improved,” he said. “But as a state, we really need football in central Arkansas to come back.”
Jim Rasco, who customarily introduces the weekly speakers, introduced Conque by pulling out an old photo of him in a No. 95 uniform — with hair and a moustache that drew laughter from the audience at the Embassy Suites.
Referring to Saturday’s 59-28 defeat to McNeese State, Conque quipped, “Well, that’s twice I’ve been embarrassed in the last 48 hours.”