This college football thing is getting ridiculous, and it's time for the NCAA to change.
First, has there ever been a time when college football has been in such a polarizing position? As the 2011 season kicks off, college football is in turmoil in many directions -- too many directions.
You have the current scandals at Ohio State and Miami, two of the most storied programs in the history of the game. Then there's the playoff thing, which will probably never go away (especially not when the President calls for it).
And, yes -- the issue of realignment is about to rear its ugly head.
Texas A&M announced recently it is leaving the Big 12, headed to the SEC, a move that will likely set off a huge chain reaction. In fact, the chain had already begun to move prior to this. Texas Christian is headed to the Big East next year, Utah and Colorado are Pac-10 (now 12) for life and Nebraska is about to embark its first year in the Big 10 (now 12).
Colleges are switching conferences left and right and it appears the Big 12 (now 10 -- soon to be 9) will be the sacrificial lamb. If Oklahoma leaves as rumored by Austin-American Statesman columnist Kirk Bohls, the league will be down to eight measly teams. Not even having Texas, one of the most successful and popular teams in college football, would save it.
Why are these schools doing it? Why else -- money, greed and perhaps a little bit of ego. Texas A&M wants a chance to play in the lucrative SEC with a better chance to get a national title. The SEC wants entry into the Texas market for its own SEC Network. It's a match made in money heaven.
Texas A&M President Bill Byrne used Texas, and the creation of their Longhorn network which featured highlights of Texas high school football, as a scapegoat. Texas A&M basically said the Big 12 has let Texas do whatever it wants and that's why it wants out.
While this is probably true, let's be honest, Texas A&M is mad it's not them. They want a bigger piece of the pie. They are leaving the Big 12 for the SEC because they know if they can't have the money that Texas gets in the Big 12, they'll go to a more lucrative league and pretty much destroy a 100-plus year rivalry in the process.
Meanwhile in the same state, Texas Christian is headed to the Big East where the closest school is more than 1,000 miles away. How does a TCU-Rutgers battle sound to you? It sounds random and not exactly thrilling to me. However, Big East wants entry into the same Texas market and TCU wants to play in a more lucrative, BCS league.
If maps and common sense didn't exist, TCU to the Big East would make sense. Otherwise, it's just a blatant way for colleges and conferences to make money in this amateur sport league.
It's not over, either. As mentioned, Oklahoma leaving the Big 12 would send the other eight schools scrambling. Texas can go independent, but Missouri, Baylor, Kansas, Oklahoma State and Kansas State?
No way. You'll see those schools in either the Big East, SEC or Pac-12 (which would be Pac-16) as those leagues expand their markets and get better paydays from TV networks (or the opportunity to create their own network ala the SEC).
Missouri already tried to leave for the Big 10. It got rebuffed and was forced to stay with the Big 12 -- for now. Other schools will act accordingly.
Here's a question I often wonder out loud: what about the other sports? This NCAA is supposed to be about much more than football.
I realize that football (and to a lesser extent basketball) makes the most money for these schools, but does it make any fiscal sense for TCU to fly its softball team to take a cross country flight twice a year to play Syracuse? Obviously not. If these schools and conferences are going to treat everything like a business, why not just cut their losses and get rid of the non-money making sports.
Note: I'm not actually advocating this.
It's time for the NCAA to quit the farce when it comes to having conferences in college football. Just have the teams pick whoever they want to play. Just college football, the other sports can stick with their respective conferences since they are the ones getting screwed over by this realignment.
Would this create a sink or swim scenario where certain schools would get screwed over? Probably. But you know what, that's too bad. Figure out another way to improve your national appeal (just ask Oregon for any tips).
Sink or swim is already the system NCAA is in now, which is why all of these schools will quickly paddle their way to a new conference even if it makes no sense geographically or historically. Let's just quit the farce and make it official.