and as John Houseman might say, “it buuuuuuuuuuuurns.”
It’s hard these days not to become consumed with a sense of pessimism that’s almost overwhelming as you look at the direction American society has taken. So I can’t say that the deep thought that seems to have gone into conference realignment and some of the reaction that’s generated comes as much of a surprise.
Exhibit A: Check out the vision of Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott. College mega-conferences are inevitable because… well, just because.
“I’m not smart enough or experienced enough in the college world to know how long it’s going to take before the next wave of change,” Scott said, “but if an idea is good enough, it’s going to happen.”
Why is the idea good enough? Well, the cool kids like it.
Scott also said that broadcasters offered positive feedback about the possibilities of a 16-team league.
That’s it. That’s all he’s got to offer as to why he tried to blow up the landscape of college athletics and why he thinks it’ll still happen. You get the feeling that all Scott is looking for is the opportunity for somebody to buy him a good dinner and a couple of drinks.
Exhibit B: Here come the politicians.
Iowa‘s two U.S. senators have asked Big Ten Conference officials to disclose expansion plans and financial information about the league’s cable television network.
At least they’re masters of the obvious. Sort of.
“Rather it appears that invitations are being extended because of the major media markets where they are situated,” the letter says. “Thus the invitations to join the Big Ten seem to be extended for the sole purpose of enhancing the financial bottom line that television contracts, marketing and promotional activities will bring member institutions.”
It probably wouldn’t have hurt to have waited a couple of days more to see which school actually received and accepted the Big Ten’s formal invitation. Of course, if you’re from Iowa, Omaha, Nebraska may seem like a major media market to you.
And how about some aesthetics?
“It appears the conference’s expansion efforts will cause the realignment or implosion of other college athletic conferences,” the letter stated. “If, as some speculate, such realignment results in four ‘super’ conferences, it seems they may be no different than professional sports associations like the National Football League or Major League Baseball.”
So, Congress wants a playoff, no conferences bigger than twelve teams and all the wonderful conferences out there to survive intact. (Yes, I realize I’m exaggerating here.)
College football is a wonderful sport. We’re about to find out how resilient it is. The cynic in me thinks we’re doomed, so my advice is to enjoy what we’ve got while you can.