Writer’s Block: Disappointed in college sports changes

I have been very disappointed by the decisions made by collegiate athletics that have been driven by money.

Eric Hagen
Eric Hagen

Due to conference expansion and realignment, rivalries such as Nebraska-Oklahoma, Kansas-Missouri and numerous Big East college basketball rivalries will not be taking place very often.

The Big 10 has not lost any teams like the Big 12 or Big East have, but too much expansion will dilute the quality of the product.

Instead of being constricted geographically to the nation’s heartland, the Big 10 has slowly expanded to the east coast, first with the addition of Penn State and even more so with Maryland and Rutgers recently agreeing to join.

Maryland is a charter ACC member. I loved watching Maryland play Duke in basketball, but this will no longer happen unless it is a non-conference game.

The only reason Rutgers got in is because the Big Ten Network craves the New York City market.

The expansion and realignment of college conferences is nothing new. The Big 8 included Colorado, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State when it dissolved in 1996 in order to form the Big 12 conference, which would include Baylor, Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech.

These four Texas schools used to be in the Southwest Athletic Conference, which was once a powerhouse football conference until many of the athletic programs were hit by recruiting scandals and NCAA probations.

The most notable was SMU receiving what was referred to as the “death penalty” in which the NCAA canceled SMU’s 1987 season and the school itself canceled the 1988 season because so many players had transferred.

Arkansas left the SWC in 1990 for the Southeast Conference (SEC) and the four Texas schools left for the Big 12 in 1996.

These are just a couple of examples of conference realignment that took place a couple of decades ago. Four of the Big 12 schools have left for other conferences in recent years.

Football is once again a driving force behind the decisions being made today. Schools like Kansas and UConn are powerhouse college basketball programs, but have been afterthoughts as teams have bolted the Big 12 and Big East, respectively.

My assumption is in the next decade or so, there will be four “super conferences” with the Big Ten, Pac 12, SEC and Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) looking to be the best set up to succeed.

The ACC may be questionable because I have read rumors that the SEC may pursue Florida State and the ACC is weaker in football, but still respectable and it has some of the best college basketball programs.

The unfortunate reality with super conferences is that conferences lose their geographic identity and natural rivalries. The SEC at one point was rumored to be talking to Oklahoma and Texas, which are not exactly in southeastern America.

Yes, Texas-Florida or Oklahoma-Alabama and many other football tilts would be great games, but what about the other schools left behind?

The Big East has been completely gutted. West Virginia has already left for the Big 12.

This is another prime example of an expansion that makes no geographic sense. Pittsburgh and Syracuse are set to join the ACC. Catholic schools DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, Seton Hall, St. John’s and Villanova are all leaving the Big East to form their own conference.

A Jan. 6 ESPN article by Darren Rovell reports that these schools may get even more revenue from a television network deal than these non-football schools got in the Big East.

Of course, conference expansion and realignment has been so prevalent because of the huge amount of money offered by television networks for game broadcasting rights. As much as we complain, I do not think there is anything we can do to stop it.