hello I'll answer my own question. I think it might work if you were an expert in BIOS .. AND if your MoBo had the necessary SMD components. Mine had some blank spaces including one near the USB header where a 32bit mini controller would have gone, so, that's out, and I'll adapt to USB2 in this situation.
I'd wager the cost savings wasn't in the header itself, as I was initially thinking, but extra complexity of the controller logic. It was a small square controller with 12 or 16 solder pads per side. Hope that clears it up