Thursday, June 17, 2010

Westward Expansion

Or eastward, in the case of the Pac-10 (or whatever the hell it'll be called next year). Finally, after weeks of taking the headlines away from noteworthy topics in sports, college football's expansion is now done and complete. Only 4 moves happened, and they are each very notable. But honestly, its more notable what didn't happen, the existence of a super-conference.

If Texas had actually gone through with moving to the Pac-10, that would have released shock waves throughout college sports for years to come. Texas leaving the Big 12 would have caused 5 others to leave with them, the biggest of the Big 12 schools, and that would have left 5 schools out in the cold, to weather the storm of being completely irrelevant. Even Kansas would have been left out, with the great basketball program it has. But alas, they needn't worry about that, as there will be a 10 team Big "12". The big winner here, is Texas, who basically controlled the fate of college football in their president's hand. Texas, and a few other schools may end up creating their own college networks along with their lucrative TV deal for the conference, as of course, the expansion was all about money. Thank the Lord that nobody said "We want to align ourselves with the academic missions of the Pac-10 conference", because that would have been horrible PR for those of us who can read slightly between the lines at all.

I do want to talk about the 4 teams that did move conferences. The Mountain West was involved in many of these discussions, first with Boise State moving to a slightly more prestigious conference from the WAC, but, the Mountain West loses as team as quickly as it gained one, with Utah, the classic BCS Buster, moving to the Pac "10". Utah is 7-3 against the Pac "10" in their last 10 meetings, and 2 BCS wins thrown in. Now, they'll be one of the powers in a relatively weak football conference right now, with Oregon players getting arrested left and right, and USC on sanctions for awhile (Husky fans, rejoice!). "It's a great day to be a Ute!" Utah AD Chris Hill said, and it is, but Ute basketball fans may want to wait a bit,  but that doesn't matter with these expansion talks.

With Colorado and Nebraska leaving the Big 12 for the Pac "10" and Big "10" respectively, they lose a rivalry game assured every year (a Black Friday staple, if you actually cared), but they will now not be the goats of the Big 12, winning the North division only to get clubbed in the Title game by Texas or Oklahoma (not last year, exception to the rule). Now, the Big "10" can get a football title game, again for more money. Which leads me to...........

Money was the whole driving factor for this expansion, and it annoys me how the sanctity of college sports can be disturbed by university and conference boffins wanting more money in their pockets, as if they already don't make enough. Utah and Boise may not have been for money, but Colorado and Nebraska sure were, plus the Texas rumors. The money should not be an issue for these people, it should be for the love of college sports as a driving force in some of these areas where there are no professional sports teams around. Such is the life of college sports, as they do make tons of money, but it clearly shouldn't be. Leave the greed for people like Albert Haynesworth, or Gary Bettman, who work in the pros. Don't exploit the athletes anymore with expansion rumors for money, and then maybe cover them up with talks about academia. The average college sports fan is smarter than that. Also, don't ever talk about increasing the number of teams in March Madness for money, that truly isn't worth it either. Hopefully, these talks will now go away for a long time coming.

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