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The Big 18?

I hope none of you are surprised that the Big Ten Conference has added the University of Washington and the University of Oregon to their ranks. For quite a while now, I’ve been trying to relay to all of you that the college football we knew and loved is on its way out. It’s just getting there faster than I thought it would, but, make no mistake, we are in the midst of a new birth. We are seeing the formation of a new order in collegiate football.

We are seeing the end of the traditional conference. We’ve seen it now for a while, but, all the language that the marketing folks try and come up with can’t cover up the destruction of the what we knew as college conferences. I mean, let’s face it, the Pac 12 is gone…USC, UCLA, Oregon, and Washington are gone. Arizona and Arizona State, who were late comers to the Pac 12, who saved the conference few years ago, are reportedly on their way to the Big 12. Who’s left? Stanford, Cal, and a few others…and I’ll bet money, those guys are looking for a new home.

The Big 10 now has 18 schools in it. I’ll be interested to see the new logo for that conference on a letterhead. The Big 12 isn’t sure who they are yet. The SEC has so many teams with the addition of Texas and Oklahoma, they may as well call themselves Alabama-Georgia and everybody else. That being said, can the ACC survive any attrition at all, especially if Clemson joins somewhere else.

It’s over friends. I’ve been talking about a super conference of approximately 60 universities who will split off in football and set their own agenda, TV rights and everything. The NCAA will have no control over this group…heck, they’ve got little or no control now over anything. And no matter what anybody tells you, it’s all about the money. The president of Oregon was quoted after the move to the Big Ten was announced that his University would “average over 50 million dollars just from direct media rights.” The mention of joining a group of like-minded research university’s or academic partners by anybody, in my opinion, is lip service. The main factor is about how much they’ll make in “media rights.”

I hate to say this, but for all of you who are proud graduates of great football institutions like Miami of Ohio, or Western Michigan or Central Michigan…your football programs are going to be devastated…and they may have to become club sports. The future of all of the Albion’s, and Grand Valley State’s, and Ferris’s are all very murky. The NCAA may try and re-invent itself as a governing body of the division II and III schools, but, they mismanaged the big schools so badly I’d find it hard to trust them managing a take out order at McDonalds.

What we loved about college football is going away. The Rose Bowl hasn’t been the Rose Bowl lately, and it never will be again. The traditional rivalries are going to disappear. Washington has stated that they plan on keeping their rivalry with Washington State…but if a big money game against Ohio State gets in the way…the Apple Cup is gone. At the Big Ten meetings this year, Ohio State floated the idea of changing the Michigan- Ohio State game from the last week end of the season. Will it happen? who knows….ten years ago I would have said never…now I’m not so sure. Already, Nebraska vs Oklahoma has gone by the wayside. The powers in charge are talking a good story of saving the traditional in-state rivalries, but, just as an example, Pitt and Penn State haven’t played each other since 2019, and they aren’t scheduled in the foreseeable future.

For the traditional college football fan, the big picture is a mess. For the time being, you will still have your games and your tailgates. The bands will play, and the games will be exciting. But, the romance is gone. The investment emotionally has been muted. It’s become about media rights. It’s become about NIL collectives. It’s become about the transfer portal. I prefer the time when I signed my letter of intent to attend the University of Michigan…I had a chance to get my degree from a world-renowned academic institution, and play football in the Western Conference Big Ten for a championship, and if I was really lucky, I got to play in the granddaddy of them all, The Rose Bowl, against the Pac Ten champion on New Years day in Pasadena, California. Pretty soon, there won’t be any conferences, and the granddaddy of them all will be called the national championship game, and the Rose Bowl will be a secondary bowl game.

Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio….a nation turns its lonely eyes to you….What’s that you say Mrs. Robinson?…. Joltin’ Joe has left and gone away….

(If you don’t get the last line, search Simon and Garfunkel)

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