Every day recently, the sports pages have been filled with more stories of colleges jumping ship, leaving their long-standing associations with their respective conferences and heading for greener pastures and new leagues.
It’s actually too confusing to keep up with. Syracuse and Pitt leaving the Big East for the ACC. Missouri leaving the crumbling Big 12 for the SEC. Teams in the Big 12 looking to head to the Pac-12, which has now decided against expansion. Other teams rumored to go to a host of different conferences. It’s really a mass exodus.
Quite honestly, if you want to know the main reason for all of this mess, it’s as simple as this. It’s $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$.
The colleges all want a little slice of the American dollar. It has nothing to do with geographic locations or educational affiliations. Nope. This is all about the greenback.
And who started the money train rolling along? None other than the almighty ESPN, which claims to be biggest and best supporter of college athletics. Sure, they started ESPNU and televise more college football and basketball games than anyone.
However, ESPN has to begin to take the fault for this ridiculous trend of schools leaving their respective conferences.
And it began when ESPN agreed to help start and defray the start-up costs for Texas to launch their now-controversial Longhorn television network.
It’s a network that will now enable Texas to collect as much as $30 million in added revenue every year, money that does not have to be shared with the remaining members of the floundering Big 12.
So schools like Nebraska and Texas A&M saw this trend and realized it was an unfair advantage for Texas. Not only were they getting revenues that the others were not able to attain, but having these programs televised all the time on this network represented an unfair recruiting advantage as well, something that Texas really didn’t need in the first place.
So Nebraska bolted for the Big Ten and a good slice of the highly successful Big Ten Network’s television cash. Texas A&M bolted for the SEC. The Big 12 has been decimated by these departures and apparently, it’s not over.
And it’s led to a trickle down effect to the other leagues. The Big East made a ridiculous move in their marketing of a televison package for football and that bungling has led to the exits of Syracuse and Pitt.
Instead of getting a guarantee of a little under $5 million from the Big East, the two schools now stand to get as much as $17 million from the ACC.
Now, I can fully understand Pitt wanting to leave the Big East for a more viable football conference, because Pitt has a solid program in both sports.
But Syracuse? The school hasn’t been relevant in football in ages. Sure, it’s still a basketball giant, but football? I can’t even remember the last time Syracuse was a bowl team.
And who is going to care about some of those ACC basketball games? Syracuse-Clemson doesn’t exactly excite the masses. Nor does Syracuse-Maryland, or Syracuse-Georgia Tech or Syracuse-Wake Forest.
Sure, it’s going to be great to face Duke and North Carolina, but that’s only two games. Does anyone think the Carrier Dome is going to sell out for Virginia Tech or Miami?
You’re losing some big time rivalries. Georgetown, St. John’s, Villanova. UConn, although UConn is looking to join Syracuse in the ACC. Those were exciting basketball showdowns. It wasn’t called “Big Monday” for nothing.
Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim was on with Mike Francesa the other day and he said that he would hope to continue to play Georgetown, St. John’s and Villanova in independent games. Hey, if I’m any of those other schools, do you think I’m going to be nice and throw a bone to Syracuse now? Hell, no. I’m giving the Orange the finger and tell them to go play with their dirty money, like Bugs Bunny said to Baby Face Finster.
Now, to try to save face, the Big East has extended invitations to places like East Carolina, Central Florida, Navy and Air Force. Wow, I can’t wait for that Rutgers-Central Florida game at the RAC or East Carolina-Seton Hall at the Rock. Woooo, hooo…
It’s college sports. It’s not supposed to be about greed and avarice. But it sure has become that way.
So when you’re about to begin pointing fingers at the mess that college sports is in right now, look no further than the forerunner and so-called leader of college sports, ESPN. They started it all. Now, who is going to clean up the mess?
Why did Facebook tinker with a good thing? You know the old saying, ”If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” It didn’t need fixing.