Anyone still clinging to the illusion that major College football was different from the NFL saw that myth utterly destroyed last Friday. That was the day when naked, unrestrained greed, the force that has been controlling it since the early 80s, once more revealed itself and the results were not pretty.
Over the course of roughly one day the Pac-12, a conference with a track record of competition dating back over a century and one that had won more titles than any other, saw itself obliterated as eight of its 12 schools have now defected.
USC and UCLA had already departed for the Big 10. Colorado had also departed for a return to the Big 12. Oregon and Washington Friday announced plans to join the Big 10. The Big 12 voted to accept Arizona, with Arizona State and Utah following suit.
The Big 10 now has 18 teams, the Big 12 16. The four remaining Pac-12 teams have a year to decide what to do.
The reason for all this had nothing to do with academic integrity or student-athlete stability. It was the multi-billion dollar network television packages being offered that caused the disintegration of the Pac-12.
None of the college presidents voiced any concerns over the loss of traditional rivalries or the demise of a long tradition featuring holiday games between in-state rivals. No, it’s big money grab time, and it’s not over yet.
The ACC may be the next conference to implode. Florida State either wants out or the lion’s share of conference television revenue. Clemson is also making noise about leaving. This despite tge fact the ACC has agreements in place till 2030, and any school wanting out early faces a $120 million dollar payout fee.
Reportedly Florida State already has private donors out raising funds to meet that price. Both Miami and North Carolina are also supposedly unhappy with the ACC’s revenues.
While all the bigtime college football schools consolidate and shift conference affiliations, left out of the loop and the big money are the Ivy and Patriot Leagues, the smaller conferences and the HBCUs. No one is arguing that they should have some input or decision making power in these scenarios. In truth, these schools are actually genuine college entities rather than NFL development squads.
Sure, an occasional player from a small college or HBCU will become an NFL star. But those are the exceptions,
and the overwhelming number of athletes at the non-Power 5 schools are legitimate students who also love sports and want to keep playing a few more years before giving up competitive athletics for good.
These institutions should consider forming some sort of alliance. They clearly need a body and advocate to press their case before the NCAA, and maybe Congress if there are more hearings after these conclude.
One thing for sure: the Power 5 conferences at this point aren’t concerned with much of anything except bigger and more profits.
It will indeed be instructive to see in a few months if that attitude remains prevalent.