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Old 07-28-2021, 02:32 PM   #21
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This article by Chris Vannini in The Athletic expresses a lot of my feelings. It's subscription based (I have a subscription) so I'm posting the whole thing.
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Conference realignment sucks, and it’s taking away what we love about college football
By Chris Vannini Jul 26, 2021

Something beautiful happened back in April: Sports fans told their teams they could take their money and shove it.

It was in response to the short-lived Super League, when 12 of the top soccer clubs in Europe hoped to form a breakaway postseason that would bring them more prestige and a whole lot more television money. But instead of fans looking forward to the titanic matchups and domestic advantages that would come with even more cash, the fans of the big teams stood up for the little guys. The backlash was swift, particularly in England. Even players and coaches spoke out against it, too.

As quickly as the formation announcement was made, it fell apart. Regional pride mattered. Century-old rivalries mattered, even if the scoreboard was one-sided. Tradition won the day. The rich leaders slumped away, embarrassed. For once, the almighty dollar (or Euro in this case) didn’t rule everything.

As it collapsed, my colleague in England, Adam Crafton, summed it up with a sharp and sublime paragraph that has stayed on my mind ever since:

"Players and coaches so often ignore their club’s defects, accepting the pound signs and lowering their moral compass. But along came a plan that struck at the heart of their childhood love of football9soccer): the right to dream, the right to aspire, the right to compete. As much as their owners may have resented it, players at clubs such as Manchester United and Chelsea speak privately of their admiration of Leicester City’s 2016 title victory. These players are football(soccer) fans, like the rest of us, and they are invigorated even by the ever-decreasing number of upsets."

Less than two months after the Super League collapsed, college football put a hand out for the little guy, planning a 12-team playoff with at least one guaranteed bid for a Group of 5 program. The sport’s leaders sacrificed for the benefit of the game, to keep more fanbases engaged throughout the season. Notre Dame gave up the chance for a first-round bye. The SEC agreed to change a system that already benefits them. The Power 5 agreed to a system in which more than one G5 team could make it. It was a rare moment of unity to help everyone.

But behind the scenes of that behind-the-scenes move, it turned out the dollar still ruled everything.

It turned out Texas and Oklahoma have been eying a move out of the Big 12 and into the SEC. It doesn’t matter that they already have favored-nation status in their current league. It doesn’t matter that Oklahoma is a perennial top-five team and that a 12-team playoff benefits a Texas program that has struggled to get to 10 wins. The early 2010s realignment hysteria that left everyone with battle scars is back.

And quite honestly, it sucks. We love every juicy rumor about who could land where, but college football is racing down a road toward becoming a mini-NFL, and it will ruin everything we love about the sport.

It sucks we don’t get Nebraska-Oklahoma on an annual basis anymore. Same with the Border War. Same with the Backyard Brawl. Same with Duke-Maryland basketball. (Ironically, this move would bring back the Lone Star Showdown, yet Texas A&M initially appears to have pushed back against it).

It sucks that it’s become impossible for fans of many teams to drive to road games, all while the price of home game tickets, parking and concessions have gone up.

It sucks that college sports over the past decade-plus has chosen to give up what makes it special. I’m not talking about amateurism — the fact that players can now make money is long overdue. I’m talking about the regional flair, the communities, the charm and the history. There’s a connection with alumni and your opponent. The vast majority of us care more about our rivals and goofy trophies than we do who wins the national title.

It’s not pro sports. It’s supposed to mean something more. There aren’t 30 “teams” we care about. There are a hundred unique communities. But pettiness and greed have won the decade, and this move by Texas, Oklahoma and the SEC could cement this path toward ending that forever.

The move genuinely caught everyone in college sports off-guard. Conversations with people in the industry paint a mix of fear and frustration, but also sadness.
“We are an association that’s so far from being a team and from doing what’s in the best interest of our industry, it’s sickening,” one athletic director told The Athletic. “And now you have this new era of leaders coming in, young guys that that are having to pick up the pieces of the sins of our fathers. Like, it’s really sad. This isn’t why most of us got into this industry. There was something special and pure about it, even as we talked out of both sides of our mouth, but now what?”

Do we really like the layout of conferences more than we did a decade ago? When it comes to play on the field, do Nebraska fans really like being in the Big Ten? Does Colorado like playing on the Pac-12 Network? What do Iowa and Rutgers fans have in common? It trickles down, too. Southern Miss, a program with a deep history and a passionate fanbase, got abandoned by its rivals for the AAC and has been lost in an unfamiliar wilderness ever since. Realignment has its winners, but it has far more losers.

Texas A&M joined the SEC in 2012. In the ten years since, the Aggies have played Georgia once and don’t host the Dawgs until 2024. Now we’re adding two more teams? Why would the Mississippi schools want to knock themselves down another tier within their own league? Why would Missouri and Arkansas want to welcome Texas after getting out from under that shadow?

Because if Texas is willing to do this to the Big 12, the Longhorns won’t think twice about doing this again in another decade and leave the Mississippi States and the Vanderbilts of the SEC behind for a Super League. Don’t fool yourself. We’re clearly heading in that direction now.

If you’re in that lower tier of the SEC, why would you run toward that? Is the next financial payout — which is already set to balloon in a few years without the Longhorns and Sooners — that much more important? Wake up. You’re speeding up the path to your own irrelevancy for a short-term financial gain.

Forget “financial security,” as school officials like to say. It’s nonsense. The Power 5 leagues make more than enough money, which, again, is about to increase. They want more. It’s greed and paranoia. Fear that we’re in a game of musical chairs, and you want to have one of those seats in a secure major conference before the music stops. Fear that failing to get a few hundred million dollars more could bring everything down. Fear that the SEC and Big Ten’s growing financial strength makes it insurmountable on the field. Fear that if you’re not doing something, someone else is.

It’s bullshit. College sports is the second-most-popular sport in the country by most metrics. The number of stadiums that fill up with at least 40,000 fans on a Saturday is incomparable to anything else in this country, and perhaps any country.

You would think the pandemic and recent court rulings and other changes would make schools reassess costs, but nope. There’s another facility to be built. Another $10-million buyout for a coach. Another Olympic sport that loses money and needs a $200,000 head coach. So let’s find a way to get more money, traditions and community be damned.

I live in Texas. It’s been 25 years since the Southwest Conference dissolved, but everyone who remembers it speaks so fondly of those days. Sure, everyone cheated, but almost every person in the state had a dog in the same fight. Bragging rights were everything, because your coworkers were all fans of teams in the same league, whether that was an office building or state politics. There was an identity and a camaraderie. You were all in it together.

It was the SEC that sped up the SWC’s downfall, too, taking Arkansas and eventually making its own independent television deal, and then the top SWC teams joined the Big Eight and became the Big 12. Now that same Big 12 could be destroyed by the SEC. Texas may move again and leave a second conference on its deathbed.

When money’s involved, it becomes a ruthless business. But no amount of money will ever be enough.

When the soccer Super League blew up, many wondered if such a united fan backlash could happen in American sports. We’ve seen protests to fire a coach, but the soccer revolt was against something that would benefit those rich teams. It was about principle. It was about community. The SEC and the Big Ten are in such strong financial positions because they have the largest and most passionate fanbases. Would the league’s fans protest more realignment enough to stop it? Probably not. Many fans have bought into the notion of getting on a conference liferaft as the most important thing.

But the Super League was an attempt to push local connections and traditions to the side in favor of a national audience and more TV money. College football has slowly moved in that direction over the past decade.

With each move, each round of realignment, college sports loses what made it special. Maybe it’s too late. Maybe it was already gone. But it’s clear where this is really heading, and many of the decision-makers who feel comfortable about the short term need to realize there won’t be a chair for them at the end of this road. And many fans need to remember why they fell in love with the sport in the first place.
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Chris Vannini covers the Group of Five conferences, college football coaching and national college football for The Athletic. He previously was managing editor of CoachingSearch.com. Follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisVannini.
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Last edited by KatDad; 07-28-2021 at 04:47 PM.
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Old 07-28-2021, 03:52 PM   #22
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Nice read. Thanks for sharing it.
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Old 07-28-2021, 05:30 PM   #23
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Big 12 issued a cease and desist letter to ESPN. From whats coming out, UT and OU have been channeling B12 meeting info, deemed proprietary, to ESPN. Meanwhile, ESPN has been working with the AAC to poach 3-5 of the remaining teams of the B12 so the conference dissolves and UT and OU can leave early without exit fees of around 80m each.



If true, fuck UT, OU, ESPN
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Old 07-28-2021, 05:52 PM   #24
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Yep, here's Dennis Dodd at CBS sports. The plot thickens.

https://www.cbssports.com/college-fo...RJ7goSF5F5W1rU
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The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule it
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Albert Camus

The Land of the Free Because of the Brave
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Old 07-29-2021, 01:47 AM   #25
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To be honest, I love me some realignment intrigue. Fills the gap from March-September.


What I don't get is UT's desire to be an also ran in the SEC. "Thank-you sir may I have another!"
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Old 07-29-2021, 04:25 AM   #26
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Opens their states to additional recruiting by the other SEC teams, too.
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Old 07-30-2021, 05:26 AM   #27
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Read article today that the ACC is going after the BIG XII scraps.
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Old 07-30-2021, 06:54 AM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigO View Post
Opens their states to additional recruiting by the other SEC teams, too.
Great article, John, thank you for that, and he encapsulates my feelings exquisitely. The same for your take on the "well-rounded student." This is beyond depressing. I'm an old-timer. I think the SEC should be the SEC, the SWC should still be in business, the Big 8 should still be in business....etc. and so forth.

I wouldn't touch Texas with a ten-foot pole if I were in any sort of position of power. They are a cancer, now-a-days. The recruiting angle is important, as well, LSU has done well recruiting in Texas, and with Aggie in the conference, UT has suffered the most, they need this, as well, to lock down in-state recruiting again.

This is as much about them as it is about ESPN/The Mouse. The NCAA is dying and college athletics is ALL about and operated through Bristol, CT. If I didn't love it so much, I'd stop watching, as I have with the NFL, NBA (that's been years) and now baseball. There's little left, except for high school football on Thursday and Friday nights, although I still enjoy a good soccer match, I won't watch woke MLS; I watch college lacrosse and the PLL when I catch it on TV. Add in the Tour de France, where we are almost certain there is still cheating, but the sheer will and toughness of those guys is incredible.

My ribbing of Jason earlier in the thread is evidence of what Vannini was writing about.

Back to YouTube and wrenching videos.
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Old 07-31-2021, 04:31 AM   #29
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Quote:
I live in Texas. It’s been 25 years since the Southwest Conference dissolved, but everyone who remembers it speaks so fondly of those days. Sure, everyone cheated, but almost every person in the state had a dog in the same fight. Bragging rights were everything, because your coworkers were all fans of teams in the same league, whether that was an office building or state politics. There was an identity and a camaraderie. You were all in it together.
This is what made the Rices and SMUs of college fb relevent.



From a bus. standpoint it is best to eliminate your low profit divisions. The universities are employees or income streams owned by Disney and Fox. The marketing and accounting depts. have come up with a superior bus. plan.
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