This chapter examines the successes, challenges, and policy responses regarding southern college football during the sport’s “golden age” of the 1920s and into the 1930s. After the publication of American College Athletics in 1929, a small group of reformers within the sprawling Southern Conference sought to boost academic standards and minimize commercial aspects of college football. The strong reaction to these efforts reveals the historic challenges faced by administrators attempting to enforce more stringent rules regarding intercollegiate athletics competition and academic standards. The end result was a compromise among institutions that led to the creation of the Southeastern Conference (SEC). The SEC became the first conference to place university presidents in direct administrative control of athletic policy. The league spent its first two years unsuccessfully attempting to end recruiting and subsidizing of football players. The SEC then became the first conference to consider athletic ability when offering grants-in-aid. Widely criticized by the NCAA, the SEC’s controversial policy was, and has been, characterized as devastating to the “reform” of big-time athletics. This chapter challenges this assertion and offers a new perspective regarding the meaning of reform in football and other intercollegiate sports.