College football ‘super conferences’ all about the money

By Jordan Murray

Sports Editor

The world of college football as we know it is about to come to an end. The Big Ten conference now has 12 teams, while the Big 12 has ten. In fact, within a few years, the Big 12 may not have a conference left. A conference with historic pro­grams like Oklahoma, Texas, and Texas A&M is slowly disintegrating. Why? Money.

It’s hard to keep track of how this all started. Texas Christian Univer­sity (based in Fort Worth, Texas) is planning to move to the Big East to play programs like Syracuse (New York) and Connecticut. Nebraska, one of the winningest college foot­ball teams of all time, has already moved to the Big Ten in a move that was less shocking due to geography and more because of tradition.

The ball started rolling and it hasn’t stopped. Soon, all relevant schools will align themselves in one of three or four “super-conferences,” likely the Pac-12 (14? 16?), Big Ten, and SEC.

Why should this matter? Two very big reasons, at least in my mind. As much as we might bash tradition, which some would call stagnancy, the fact of the matter is that college football needs tradition. It needs the Thanksgiving weekend Texas-Texas A&M matchup every season. With Texas A&M moving to the SEC, it sounds like that 100-year-old-rivalry will cease to exist.

The second reason is money. This summer, more schools and players than ever before have been penal­ized for actions against the bylaws of the NCAA. Most involved mon­ey—the rest involved strippers or drugs. Why are these schools mov­ing to new conferences? Money.

The conference gets an expanded television audience for every new team it brings in, and the team com­ing in gets a piece of a bigger pie than it could’ve had in its previous conference. The conferences and programs are focusing all the wealth in a handful of conferences—too bad the players that will continue to push those teams to new heights will never see a dime.

One more thing. Competitive balance? Any semblance of that will disappear with these consolidations. Boise State, for example, is unlikely to join a “super-conference” due to its subpar athletic programs in other sports. The impact of that exclu­sion will be enormous on the pro­gram. How can you compete with the “super-conferences” in recruit­ing? Sure, they might continue to beat up on the patsies, but they’ll no longer be able to compete with the Georgia’s and Virginia Tech’s that they’ve beaten the last two years.

It’s unlikely that anyone will stop all of this. Not with money being the driving force. Lots of money. When—not if— this cycle is concluded, I’ll be one of those fans longing for the good old days, when rivalries mattered and a team like Boise State could compete for a na­tional championship.

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