I have been sitting on this post idea for a few days. Indeed, since Adam got me going, I have been trying to wait for a stable point to offer some thoughts. Well, now with Texas and company deciding to go forward for now with the Big 12, and (for now) true college realignment Armageddon being averted, what is left?
Texas: Really, they were the whole reason for this mess in the first place. As anybody knows, between their national pull, gigantic fan and student base, and pretty darn neat colors – Texas was the biggest catch for a conference. For the Pac 10 to get them, from a business perspective, would have been gold. That said, Texas wants to maximize its revenue with its own TV deal, and really only the Big 12 was being held over a barrel in such a manner to give it to them. Short of going independent (probably unrealistic as long as the BCS has its magic hold on people), this was the best Texas could do. Nothing prevents them from looking around later.
The Big 12: For what its worth the league is alive. Nebraska and Colorado leaving put a crimp in its style traditionwise, but they gave that up with the dissolution of the traditional Big 8, Orange Bowl slotting and all else. The league is in better shape basketballwise as it sheds two pieces of deadweight. That said, Texas will never stop being attractive and we know that the Big 12 North and South are being held together very uneasily.
The Big 12 Defectors: It is hard to blame Nebraska or Colorado for leaving. Both schools leave for conferences with better academic and geographic footprints. Sure seeing them play each other was day after Thanksgiving tradition, but the Darian Hagan days are long ago.
The Mountain West Conference: Boise is a remarkable catch footballwise. With a probably Top 5 preseason team this year, arguably the best college football coach in the country and a school committed to ratcheting up their facilities, the Mountain West improves its ability to get into the BCS grownups table. This still does not explain the road trips to and from Fort Worth for the member schools but whatever.
Basic Arithmetic: We have in college sports, the Pacific 10, the Big 10, the Atlantic 10 and the Big 12. As of today, all of them have an incorrect number of teams in it.
The Pac 10: Colorado is a solid find, but they wanted to get themselves a championship game. On the face, this desire is absurd. Only the SEC Championship Game has been a financial success, and that is because the 12 member schools are all road-trip distance from Atlanta. The rest have been either disappointments or disasters. The Pac 10, with its giant geographical footprint and less than universally enthused fan base, really should not be wasting its time. But who am I to say? They wanted that as a goal, and the ability to sell it to TV. Adding the Denver market alone does not cut it.
Student-Athletes: We already knew this. The NCAA has no interest in its athlete’s well being. After all this is the entity that attacks athletes who want to use professional help to seek out job advice, the way you and I would. Really when examining any of these conference machinations, it is worth noting that the student athletes are a non-consideration. After all the Mountain West and Western Athletic Conferences involve absolutely unconscionable travel ordeals for some of its member schools. The road trips for the fans are similarly impaired. That the nuts and bolts indentured labor would have been seriously screwed by a three time region Pac 10 behemoth is obvious – and might put them as victors on this list. However, let’s be real – this is all just the beginning. We know the Big Ten is trying to consolidate more schools in larger population centers, the Pac 10 will not stop staring eastward. The kids are going to end up taking road schedules many NFL teams are not subject to – but nobody seems to really care about it. All so we can fabricate some cockeyed national championship whose legitimacy is questioned anyway?