Conference Realignment Roulette

27 Sep

Welcome back to The Sports Ace, where we haven’t yet been approached to join the SEC or the Pac-12.  But it seems like just a matter of time.

Unless you’ve been hidden under a rock, you’ve heard all about how several major colleges and universities have been seeking greener pastures.  Pitt and Syracuse are off to the ACC.  Texas and Oklahoma are being courted. … And maybe most interesting of all, Texas A&M is headed for the SEC.  This is a cash grab for the ages…how else could these schools be making the big decisions they are so quickly?

I see this entire circus as one big risk for the NCAA and the game of college football.  If you think about the “brand” of college football, you think of gameday tradition.  Of bowl games and great rivalries.  Of marching bands and atmosphere.  Of rabid fan bases and excellent tailgates.  The more that money creeps into that vision that fans have of the game, and the more student-athletes become hired hands instead of kids playing a game for a free education, the more that brand comes under attack…and the more that casual fans may be inclined to stay away.

Personally, the people who have really surprised me in all this are the college presidents doing the moving and shaking.  Remember first and foremost that they are leaders of educational institutions, and they have the primary responsibility of educating hordes of young people who spend a lot of money for the privilege of setting foot on campus.  I hope that in some way all the money these schools are raking in is improving educational opportunities for their rank-and-file students.  But I haven’t really seen the evidence of that yet – all we really see is schools jumping ship so they can afford the best coaches and facilities.  The jury is still out, but my great fear is that these presidents are acting more like chief executives than educators.  The consequences of that could go much broader than just the game of college football.

Ultimately, though, no matter how crazy things get, this cash grab is going to work for one reason: fans will always be there for their teams.  Stadiums will stay full on Saturdays, if for no other reasons than it’s a way of life and that’s the way it’s always been.  This means that the powers that be in college football can probably do whatever they want to the game we all love, regardless of whether or not it’s in anyone’s best interests other than their own.

I’m out like a Minnesota Vikings double-digit second-half lead.

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