As much as I enjoy the give and take of the playoff debate here, there’s no question that what frustrates me the most is people’s willingness to assume that the rat bastards who control college football are going to approach the refashioning of the postseason as an opportunity to act in a completely different manner than the way that they’ve always behaved to chart a benign course that will fulfill every college fan’s wish list.
Case in point: a few years ago, Mike Slive negotiated a new TV pact which generated record levels of revenue for the conference. Despite that, the shine has worn off, because the Big Ten and Pac-12 later struck deals which were even better at making money for their member schools. As a result, the long-term, stable contracts made with CBS and ESPN which were not too long ago seen as features have morphed into ginormous bugs, millstones hanging around the necks of every SEC school head who is no longer seen as the richest kid on the block.
That meant the deals had to be redone. And so they will be, because the SEC took the step to expand from twelve to fourteen members. It wasn’t a move for the fans. It’s a move for the bank accounts.
Don’t take my word for it. Take the SEC’s.
“There might not be a permanent rival,” said Charles Bloom, the SEC’s associate commissioner. “Don’t read anything into next year’s schedule. But we are staying with eight conference (football) games.” [Emphasis added.]
There you have it. The conference is prepared to ditch long-standing rivalries like Georgia-Auburn and Tennessee-Alabama, games that are part of the soul of what makes SEC football special, because it finds that to be the least objectionable way to deal with the scheduling problems which have cropped up in having to ram a fourteen-school square into an eight-game hole. That’s only a problem because the SEC wants more TV money. No offense to the good folks at Missouri and Texas A&M, but that’s not what most of us signed up for as fans of the conference. Of course, that really doesn’t matter.
Mike Slive isn’t my commissioner. He’s not your commissioner. Slive is Michael Adams’ commissioner. Slive answers to amoral asshats who piously decry the system while continuing to rake in the money that the system provides. And that is something you should never lose sight of as Slive joins the scrum of heavyweights who will try to figure out the best way to reboot the postseason so that their golden goose can be more effectively squeezed. In that context, we’re not fans. We’re commodities.
If you need further convincing, look no further than the concerned souls at the WWL.
Burke Magnus, ESPN senior vice president of college sports programming, said today he senses college football’s leaders are not “tone-deaf” and that many follow SEC Commissioner Mike Slive’s opinion that change is coming. Slive has said the plus-one — a seeded, four-team playoff he proposed in the last BCS cycle — will be “very much” on his mind during upcoming talks.
“I sense that people who run college football and run the conferences obviously are not tone-deaf, and Mike’s comments I think were reflective of where this group is,” Magnus said. “They intend to give thoughtful consideration and discussion to every possible format consideration that there is. That’s encouraging.”
If these people don’t manage to suck the life out of college football in the next decade, it will purely be by accident. In the meantime, they’ll be cheered on by the media for their wisdom. Some will love the novelty, at least until it wears off. Few will want to admit they’re being duped, until it’s too late to say otherwise.
These guys aren’t geniuses. And they don’t care about you. Presume otherwise at your own risk.