I think what gets lost in the upgrade moritorium is that the NCAA is almost certainly looking at ways to make playing football less of a money pit. Almost all football schools at all levels are losing money on it and from the NCAA's perspective the number of BCS schools losing money has to be troubling. I think you'll see the next round of rules specifically aimed at restoring profitability. What might they be? Dunno, But I'll take a stab and I hope you might too...
1) Cut football scholarship numbers
1A) Reallocate football scholarships to other sports
Maybe 85 full Scholarships at the BCS level, 65 full at the FBS level, 30-50 full at the FCS level and up to 50 partial at the Div II level. I would say you only allow partial scholarships at the DII level. Let every tier be able to play schools from the tier just lower.
This could lead to upgrading which is not what they want. Another option is to reallocate scholarships from football to other sports. Say cut FBS football scholarships to 55, but add 20 Men's scholarships to baseball and 10 to soccer. That might force some schools to drop baseball or soccer and could force a lot of smaller budget D1 programs down to DII and could cut the available funds for IAAA teams thinking about football --- good for the long term health of D1.
2) Possible forced downgrades/upgrades for financial and competitive reasons
I'd also argue to structure the rules to prevent large schools in lower divisions from being playoff eligible. I find it distateful that a school with a 15K enrollment like UTD can leverage their student body size to whip up on a 2K school in DIII. I think any school with an enrollment of say 7K or more should not be eligible for any play below D2 football at all and should not be eligible for any D2 potential post-season and any school with an enrollment larger than 15K should not be eligible to play in DII at all or for FCS postseason play. Regular season play is fine, but use that as a lever to encourage alumni into pushing schools into appropriate competition levels.
3) Break football off to be independent, similar to what they do with Hockey.
Especially below FBS level. That way whatever your classification and affiliation is in football, all you have to do to qualify as D1 is sponsor enough sports. That simplifies the fight of dropping conferences like the Pioneer, Patriot, Ivy to DII. At that point they have no leg to stand on anyway -- the Ivy and patriot aren't losing their tourney bids. Frankly it is an easy out for them as their programs have twice as many athletes participating in them as most FBS schools. That is expensive even without scholarships. Like in the 80's the path of least resistance will probably hold. The Ivy can still play FCS schools if they want, claim amateurism, and can be a power at DII. Regardless of level, when you figure in participants and equipment, with the possible exception of Hockey in certain areas, football is the most expensive sport you can start. I would make any DII or higher football program (regardless of whether they give scholarships or not) count towards the total scholarship sports count. Afterall, the cost of running a non-scholarship football program is far more expensive than running a full scholarship D1 Tennis program.
Schools like the upper half of the Lone Star Conference who's communities only REALLY care about football could scrape up 30 full scholarships and play FCS, but keep their costs down by being a D2 member in everything else. They could play an occasional game against Southern Illinois, New Mexico State, or Houston that would make their fans ecstatic. Having that kind of flexibility in scheduling combined with the lower scholarship costs a FCS/DII scholarship load would have, could make all of those schools athletic programs self-sufficient.
Schools that don't really support football could do just the opposite and drop to non-scholarship DII to save money and still give scholarships in other sports to satisfy their D1 membership. I am thinking a lot of the Northeastern schools here. If you draw less than 4000 per game, I think the school might draw just as well as at the DII level as a partial scholarship school. When you consider matching scholarships, that is quite a savings that would offset any loss in attendance. (Logically, FCS/BCS schools would not have those options to protect the BCS system as the BCS schools envision it.) I think the NCAA is frankly screwing their lower tier membership unneccessarilly. I recognize the NCAA has to back the BCS schools or risk them leaving, but you can still protect the BCS deathgrip on TV revenue without crushing the VIABILITY out of lower tier schools athletic programs.
4) Restrict student fee usage mostly to facility upgrades
I'd say put a severe restrictions on what revenue, excluding alumni contributions, a school at each tier can spend on non-stadia facilities and coach's salaries. (So if SMU wants to have 20 alumni contribute 100K each every year to pay a coach's $2M salary they can, but a school that has not yet shown to have deep pocketed alumni --- like say a Texas State where the student fees are largely funding their program ---would only be able to pay their coach within a certain pay band --- say $100K to $200K --- forcing the money where the students would want it to go --- arenas, stadiums, feilds, equipment, etc.)
5) reduction in minimum conference size (w/ concessions made to the BCS schools) and reduction of change timetables
Softening of the football conference rules to allow a 2-3 year restructuring period of FBS & FCS conferences -- waiving the upgrade periods for playoff eligibility -- to be small regionally compact conferences --- with say a simple 6 member minimum. Stadiums would still need to be in the 17-25K range to allow FBS upgrades to hit the 15K minimum range, but the "core" rules needn't apply for football.
6) Addition of more tiers
It seems pretty noticable that there are 4 (not 3) tiers of scholarship football: BCS, FBS, FCS, and DII. If you "seperate" football, you could set much clearer tiers.
Maybe the top two tier would involve being DI, W/ more sports sponsored than the FBS tier, while FCS and DII would be independent of the a school's classification in other sports.
What do you think might emerge from the Moritorium?