Texas saved college football as we know it… for now anyway.
Late Monday night the Longhorns decided that it would be in their best interest to stay in a possible ten team big 12 than join a possible mega Pac 16 conference. The deal came to fruition after the AD’s from Texas, Oklahoma and the remaining Big 12 schools conversed over the weekend if it was better for the conference to stay together with fewer teams or to eliminate the conference entirely. Their decision to keep the remaining Big 12 intact shows that at least in this case less is more.
They have one fan who agrees with the decision to keep it together. As the Big Ten was set on purging a few teams from the conference (ending up with Nebraska) and the rumors came out of a mega Pac 10, I was beginning to wonder just where college football was headed.
The creation of all of these mega conferences would dilute the regular season and render it worthless; it would create money based rivalries with no real emotion behind while destroying the old-school rivalries that we love watching every Saturday. It would’ve killed the intrigue that makes college football so much fun. Everyone thinks the Big East is garbage as a conference yet last year we were enthralled with Cincinnati’s undefeated run and wondered if they could hang with a team like Florida. Granted they couldn’t but it was fun to think about and let play out.
The same goes for the ACC. If Miami and Florida State joined the conference I think Florida-Florida State wouldn’t be relevant anymore because the stakes of state supremacy and in the recruiting battle would take a backseat to a inter divisional game that wouldn’t decide much. The rivalry would just turn into another game in the grand landscape.
Now I’m not opposed to all conference realignment. I love Boise State going to the Mountain West because Boise has proven that they are a national player in College Football by winning two Fiesta Bowls and winning the most games in the last decade. It strengthens the Mountain West’s claim for a BCS automatic berth because now they a have a conference that’s won more BCS games in the last ten years than automatic bid conferences like the ACC and the Big East (even more impressive is they have Utah who beat Alabama in the Sugar Bowl a year before their National Championship which says a lot about the level of talent in the conference to be able to compete with an SEC powerhouse).
With that said realignment should take a little more time to come to fruition especially when it comes to the main power conferences. There is something out of place about 4 huge 16 team conferences taking up all of the space in the national landscape. It works in college basketball with the Big East because of the girth that is college basketball and its 328 teams. However, in football there are only 119 teams. So just imagine a scenario with the bowl system still in place with 35 games (70 teams), 64 teams reside in 4 conferences, there would only be about 8-10 spots open for small conferences because of bowl tie-ins, which means that up to 60 spots would be open for those conferences with those teams and Notre Dame of course. Which reminds me… WHY THE HELL IS NOTRE DAME NOT IN A CONFERENCE?!
Of all of the realignment going on why does Notre Dame still refuse to join a conference? The big guns at the top of the Golden Dome insist that they don’t feel the need to join a conference because of their TV contract so the Irish still get all of the perks that the big conferences get, where’s the fairness in that?
Notre Dame hasn’t been a real player in the college game since the early 90’s. The Irish have averaged 7-8 wins in the last decade and their last 3 ten win seasons have ended in BCS bowl beat downs by Ohio State, Oregon State and LSU. Notre Dame is nothing more than a glorified mid-major at this point that couldn’t beat 6 of the ten teams in the Mountain West conference yet are still allowed to live off of an aura that died after Lou Holtz left the school for South Carolina.
The point of this realignment is money and not the quality of the sport. The Pac 10 wants a TV deal like that of the Big Ten, the Big Ten wants a big money conference title game like that of the SEC, ACC and Big 12, the Big 12 teams will get a new TV deal now that they are smaller in numbers and the money is easier to dole out. None of this has anything to do with the game on the field. All of it still masks the fact that the sport still has problems deciding a national champ unless two teams are undefeated. Last year the season ended with Boise State and Alabama undefeated after each team beat 12-0 teams themselves. The realignment would do nothing but cause more problems as there would be a ton of one-loss and two-loss teams that think that they should play for the national title but not even the BCS would be able to sort it out with whatever formulas they would tweak out.
Which is why I can’t thank Texas and Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Texas A&M for deciding to stay in a smaller Big 12 and work on a TV deal for their conference. It saves us another few months of watching Joe Schad speculate if Iowa State would end up in the MAC conference or just how Louisville, Cincinnati and Virginia make sense in Conference USA. The decision to stay put for now saves everyone involved a fair amount of headaches from conference play, to scheduling to the postseason play and national championship. We were looking at the apocalypse of college football dead in the face and Texas helped avoid it. Unfortunately, it’s going to happen at some point, ready or not.