In case you hadn’t heard, a 500-megaton hydrogen bomb is about to drop on the entire sport of college football, and the fallout will be great for couch potatoes who love autumn Saturdays in front of the TV.
The University of Nebraska could join the Big Ten conference as early as tomorrow. When that happens, the Big 12 conference that Nebraska once called home will be summarily destroyed. ESPN is reporting the the Pac-10 conference is about to extend invitations to six leftover Big 12 schools, including national powers Texas and Oklahoma. The Big Ten could also add Missouri, Rutgers, Syracuse, and their longtime crush, Note Dame. If that happens, the Big East conference could ALSO end up folding.
None of this takes into account what the SEC and ACC might do in response to such aggressive moves, particularly with big schools like Kansas potentially left in the lurch. What you need to know is that, by 2015, there may only be four major conferences left in college sports. And it’s all because of money. With 16 teams, the Pac-10 can start its own TV channel and give its members an extra $10 million a year, and virtually double what OU and Texas got as members of the Big 12.
Now, here’s why this is all a good thing for college football. For years and years and years, people like me have been complaining that college football does itself no favors by having a brilliant regular season, followed by a month off, followed by a postseason that has about as much importance as the NFL preseason. There is one useful bowl game every year – the BCS title game. The rest are pointless exhibitions. And the whole idea that college football’s awesome regular season would be hurt by a playoff is dumb for about a zillion reasons. Ask NFL fans if they find their league’s regular season uninteresting.
Playoff advocates have always said college football administrators are foolish for ignoring the potentially lucrative impact of holding a playoff. Well, it appears those same administrators have ALWAYS wanted a piece of that playoff revenue, they just didn’t quite know how to do it politically. The bowl system is so entrenched in college football, that it’s not as easy as it looks to just do away with it.
But if college football as we know it ceased to exist, well then that makes matters a bit easier. Dan Wetzel explains at Yahoo!:
The BCS has killed everyone financially. It’s killed them to the point only a dozen or so schools break even each year on athletics. Most athletic departments need student fees or taxpayer funded general university budgets to cover expenses (nearly $900 million combined in 2008-09 according to USA Today).
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So what we have here is broken business model that can be “fixed” by doing two things: 1) Installing a playoff to generate more money, 2) Cutting down the number of schools who would share in that money. But you can’t do the playoff part of the plan without first doing the brutal slashing and cutting of weaker schools. And that’s what you have going on this week. This is the dirty work.
The upshot of this: We finally, at long last, will get some sort of college football playoff. With meaningful college football games in late December, and brackets, and everything you’ve ever wanted. And all it took was the complete and utter destruction of every college football tradition you hold dear, and supposedly high-class universities acting in the most nakedly greedy way humanly possible. The question to you is: Do you think it’ll all be worth it?
My take: OH YES. Traditions are overrated. A chance to gamble in an office pool at Christmas? That’s forever, gang. WOOHOO MADNESS IS ON ITS WAY AT LONG LAST.