While there has been much action on the field during this college football season, the action off the field has garnered the most attention. Conferences have run wild, dominoes are falling and teams are being pilfered in an effort to make more money. The conference realignment had already created much confusion prior to this season: the Big 12 Conference has 10 teams, the Big 10 has 12 and a Texas team is set to join the Big East Conference. But the conference craziness has reached a boiling points in the last month and a half and all signs point to there being no stoppage in conference realignment.
The most recent conference confusion started when the University of Texas and ESPN created the Longhorn Network. The network is a 20 year, $300 million deal with ESPN that provides Texas Longhorn sports programming and other events such as graduation ceremonies. The other universities in the Big 12, Texas’ conference, felt the network gave the Longhorns an unfair recruiting advantage; which makes sense because kids are going to want to play at a school that is going to afford them the opportunity to gain exposure in homes across the country. One school in particular, century-long rival Texas A&M, decided to take matters into their own hands and opted to leave the Big 12 in order to join the almighty Southeastern Conference (SEC). The SEC has produced football’s national championship each of the last 5 seasons. While A&M contends that they are leaving because they fit the SEC better, it is evident that they are sour about Texas’ advantage and the creation of the Longhorn Network.
With two powerhouse football programs leaving the Big 12 in the last two years (A&M and Nebraska) as well as the departure of Colorado, the Big 12 was reeling and many believed the conference would die. Adding fire to this speculation was Texas and Oklahoma’s flirtation with the Pac 12 conference. They would be bringing Texas Tech and Oklahoma with them to create a Pac 16, the first 16 team super conference. However, Larry Scott, commissioner of the Pac 12, decided that the conference would not expand at this time. All this lead to the resignation of Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe.
The Big East, a conference which many consider one of the weaker in the nation in terms of football, also had two schools leave their conference in the last week. Syracuse University and the University of Pittsburgh left the conference in order to join the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). The ACC is thought of as a basketball conference and consists of basketball powerhouses such as Duke and North Carolina. The addition of Syracuse and possibly Connecticut would strengthen its basketball prowess.
So much to digest but this is what has become the norm in college athletics over the last two years. Schools making millions leaving conferences to make more millions, hurting feelings in the process and dragging other universities with them. College football has become a multi million dollar industry with millions of fans tuning in each Saturday. Conference realignment has created so much confusion and ended many traditional rivalries all in the name of $$$$$$.