Opinion: College football landscape keeps getting messier

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June 13, 2012

By John McWilliams


Bob Dylan once sang, "The times they are a-changin’."

And boy, are they ever.

The college football landscape looks as cluttered an episode of "Hoarders" and will leave you more confused than the movie "Inception."

West Virginia and TCU are in the Big 12, Missouri and Texas A&M are in the SEC, Boise State and San Diego State are in the Big East, and Pittsburgh and Syracuse will be in the ACC by the 2013 season. Colorado and Utah started the movement when they high-tailed it to the Pac-12 last season while Nebraska joined the Big Ten.

We’re only just getting started.

Conference USA saw Houston, Memphis, SMU and UCF head for the Big East. The conference responded by adding North Texas, FIU, and Louisiana Tech. Newly added teams like Charlotte, and Old Dominion will enter the fray to play in 2015, while UT-San Antonio will join in 2013.

I’ll spare you the agony of reading the conference realignment for the WAC and Mountain West. All you need to know is that 21 teams will call a new conference home by 2013.

Conference realignment is unnecessary for the game. Why are teams like San Diego State and Boise State in the Big East? Why is a team in New Jersey flying to southern California for a conference game? The conference names are laughing stocks.

And now there’s talk of Florida State and Clemson to the Big 12.

But why? Why is the sport changing pieces faster than a Mr. Potato Head toy?

Money from TV deals.

However, TV deals are already lucrative and are getting even more profitable. The SEC makes an average of $150 million a year from ESPN, and a new deal is imminent. The ACC just announced a 15-year deal worth $240 million with ESPN. The Pac-12 struck a deal with ESPN and Fox that the SportsBusiness Journal reported is worth $250 million a year for 12 years.

Forget tradition and rivalries. Texas won’t play Texas A&M, a Thanksgiving Day tradition, to finish the regular season. No need to scarf down your dinner this year. No sir, Kansas State will take the honor of playing Texas. Even Oklahoma and Oklahoma State won’t play their game on the last Saturday of the regular season. Oklahoma will play against TCU and Oklahoma State will play against Baylor.

Why keep with tradition when there’s money to be made?

Commissioners of this great sport are allowing the dollar bill to take over.

Fans will have a more difficult time traveling to away games. According to Google Maps, a trip from Athens, Ga., to College Station, Texas is 924 miles. The opportunity for an average fan to travel to Texas A&M or Missouri is impeded.

At least it’s better than West Virginia fans who would like to travel to see their team play Texas Tech, which is 1,503 miles away. West Virginia’s closest Big 12 conference game is Kansas, which sits 901 miles from the Mountaineers’ campus.

College football is a-changin’, and it’s not for the betterment of the sport; it’s to enlarge bank accounts.


 

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