After the Universities of Nebraska and Colorado jumped ship from the Big 12, prognosticators are now predicting a paradigm shift in the conferences of college sports. The idea is that the standard of a 10-12-team conference format will form into four or five mega-conferences that have 16 major college athletic programs.
But did the University of Texas save the current format by declining the Pac-10’s offer to join the conference or did they just delay the inevitable?
We do know one thing; the heads of college athletics (mainly College Football) primary motivation is profit. Otherwise they would implement a College Football playoff system to determine a rightful Champion like every sport does and due away with the cash cow that is the Bowl Championship Series.
The desire to shift to another conference is solely influenced by money also. Apparently the ‘Big 12 Conference’ lured Texas to remain in the conference with lucrative TV figures. Now that the ‘Big Ten’ has its own TV network, the speculation is that these conferences ambitions of expansion have the same thing in mind of having their own network. Then it would lead to a dynamic for the remaining power-conferences to seek other major programs and keep up with the expansion.
Why is this a bad thing?
College Football is already the most decisive example of distinguishing the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots,’ even more than the non-salary cap sport of baseball. This is a sport that neglects to give schools from smaller conferences that are just as good of having any chance to win a National Championship.
The matchup of Alabama and Texas in the National Championship this year was not necessarily the two best teams, but they were the only teams to remain undefeated in a power conference, which is the apparent determinant. TCU and Boise St. were both arguably better than Texas. They may not have had the credential of running through the ‘Big 12’ (Although the Mountain West may have arguably been better) but they both handled BCS competition when it was their chance to play them, TCU beating tough conference competition BYU and Utah, and a victory over a C.J Spiller led Clemson team. Boise St. manhandled an Oregon team that won the respected Pac-10, and eventually beat a great TCU team in the Fiesta Bowl. Texas got a favor by getting time put back on the clock to pull out a victory over Nebraska in the ‘Big 12 Championship.’
In 2008 when Florida was elected the National Champion after beating Oklahoma. Utah remained undefeated and had destroyed Alabama, a team Florida barely beat when they faced them. But Utah never got a chance to play for the championship. Florida and Oklahoma were selected for the championship game with a loss while Utah was undefeated and never got any consideration. The only reason is because they were not in a BCS conference, not because they weren’t as good.
The emergence of smaller football programs like TCU, Boise St., Cincinnati, and Utah have promoted more discussion of implementing a playoff system than ever. Now that Boise St. is joining the ‘Mountain West’ it has the potential to rival the might of any power conference.
The mega conference concept would completely ruin that. Scheduling would be restricted to remain within conference, and matchup against subdivision cupcakes and other mega conference teams to balance the schedule. That would limit the options of talented recruits to the mega conference teams because this new format will essentially create a subdivision within Division 1 even more decisive than it already is. This will ultimately keep the next Boise St. from getting the chance to emerge as a college football contender.
Much more drawbacks could evolve with the formation of the mega conference that has yet to be realized. Ultimately though it is a representation of what is wrong with College Football. The desire to attain money while compromising the integrity of the game is College Football in a nutshell. Year after year writers and coaches elect a champion that don’t actually prove their supremacy in a playoff system. What is worse is the denial to incorporate the smaller conference schools the chance to attain a championship. If Utah were in the ‘Pac-10’ instead of the ‘Mountain West,’ Florida would have played them instead of Oklahoma for the National Championship in the 2008 season.
The mega conference could possibly (not likely) lead to a playoff system of four, or eight teams at best. But it is not the ideal playoff system like the College Basketball Tournament that has given the Butlers of the world the chance to win the National Championship.
It’s not really a playoff when you disregard one-third of the competition, which is what College Football does by limiting the NAtional Championship game to only the BCS conferences. While the ‘Mountain West’ got more formidable with the addition of Boise St. to make a smaller conference mightier, did Texas come out an inadvertent savior for remaining in the ‘Big 12’ to keep the conference format at bay? Hopefully.