Sadly the end is here. There always have been little blips and blurbs about conference realignment igniting again. It wasn’t supposed to take place for a few more years. Unfortunately, California has thrown a wrench into the plans. The conference realignment talks will be underway again.
Aside from Connecticut departing from the American Athletic Conference, nothing will take place this year. It’s unlikely anything will change during the year of 2020. However, the chess game has started and the first pawns are moving. What is going to happen to the Pac-12 Conference? Four teams from California are in the conference. Will California create its own conference? Their junior colleges already have their own league. How will this effect the Mountain West Conference? So many questions went scrambling through my mind when I saw the news.
It was just this past month when I said the Big 12 should take a look at adding Arizona and Arizona State. Those two schools are definitely going to want to get rid of the California schools. They won’t be able to compete. The best recruits in the nation are going to California. They want to be compensated. Does the Big 12 want to swipe up the schools in Arizona? What will happen with the four schools in the Pacific Northwest? Oregon and Washington have made appearances in the College Football Playoff. Washington State has made huge strides since the hiring of Mike Leach. As for Oregon State? Well, they are a national championship winning baseball program.
The NCAA did threaten to ban the California schools from postseason play. Will they leave the NCAA? The Pac-12 Network is a complete bust. Pac-12 schools are clamoring for money. They get awful time slots, many of which have the coaches complaining. But again, what is the best thing the Big 12 Conference can do here? Should they pick up the Arizona schools? Should they pick up Colorado and Utah too? That’s a smaller piece of the revenue pie for each school. However, it would add the Denver, Phoenix and Salt Lake City markets.
We know Bob Bowlsby has his eye on the situation. We know he doesn’t approve of what is taking place. We also know he is planning. Bowlsby is making out his strategy right now. This isn’t Dan Beebe, who nearly let the conference dissolve. Bowlsby may not be your favorite person. He’s certainly not my favorite person. It’s not his job to be liked though. Bowlsby has done an excellent job uniting the conference. It’s arguably the strongest conference in the nation when you look at the major sports. Let’s face it. Outside of Kentucky and Florida, the SEC is awful at basketball. The Big Ten is a dumpster fire athletically. To talk about the ACC, all we need to do is point at Kansas’ road victory against Boston College.
The situation with California could very well create the four super conferences we were talking about one decade ago. It might not include the Pac-12. Or the Pac-12 might combine with the Mountain West after the two conferences subtract the California schools.
Of course, there is also the chance all states follow California’s model and the NCAA just adapts. Much of the nation has debated about player pay. The main problem here is answering the question in regards to compensation for cross country runners. How does Texas compensate the rowers? Yes, believe it or not, Texas has a rowing team. The Big 12 Conference sponsors gymnastics. How do you compensate the gymnasts? Most athletic departments lose money on a yearly basis. Which sport typically drives the bus? Football. Football packs 60,000 seat stadiums. Some schools seat over 100,000. You don’t get a fraction of these numbers for a track meet.
Thus, the chess match has officially begun. Whose queen will be killed? Whose king will be backed into a corner? Which pawns will be sacrificed? How will the bishops, rooks and knights be strategically placed? We are all watching one giant chess match, and the winner will rule college football.
Welcome back to conference realignment.
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