Column: College football has created chaos for all college sports
Aug 11, 2023, 5:00 PM
(Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Life isn’t fair. We all know that, but what is happening right now with college sports is downright insane. I once heard a line that feels apropos right now, “in chaos, there is opportunity.” College football has taken that and run with it.
Not long ago we were all alerted to then stunning news that Texas and Oklahoma were going to be leaving the Big 12 for the coveted SEC. After that was processed by many, then USC and UCLA surprised many by stating they were bolting the West Coast for the Big 10. What?
Now let’s fast forward to just a few weeks ago when what seemed to be a small domino fell and that turned into an all-out avalanche of turmoil. The University of Colorado informed the Pac-12 that they were going to leave because of the lack of a lucrative TV deal. The Buffaloes felt a return to the Big 12 was better for them and their future.
Here comes the real chaos. Utah, Arizona, and Arizona State all followed them to the Big 12. Oregon and Washington paired up with the super-sized Big 10. That leaves a not-so-mighty Pac-4 of Stanford, Cal, Oregon State and Washington State.
It appears that the conference will try and get off life support and attempt to add new teams to make it a functional league. The reality, however, is that will be very difficult and Stanford and Cal may join the ACC while Oregon State and Washington State could be forced to join the Mountain West.
Will college football go on? Of course, it will. It won’t be the same and it doesn’t have to be.
The problem is what they have created. This is less about the travel across the country for some of these teams. They have charters, they may have six road games in a year, and only play once a week so all of this is very feasible.
The problem is all the conference musical chairs is bringing the other sports along with them. Imagine UCLA volleyball traveling to Maryland on a non-charter multi-stop flight. Duke golf coming out to play at Stanford. These sports fit the “student-athlete” mold much more than the power-hungry, mega business that college football has become. We can’t pretend these sports are doing the same thing. Yes, the athletes are incredible at juggling their time between school and their sport but football is treated differently.
It is time to create football-only conferences and maybe even think about basketball too, but the rest of the Olympic sports need to stay intact with their regional leagues. UCLA can be in the Big 10 for football but track and field, tennis, and swimming should be in the Pac 12 (or whatever we call it these days).
Football is a huge money generator and it should be treated that way but it shouldn’t impact the other sports in the same type of capacity. Maybe in all this chaos, college sports can get it right. My fear is they will continue to chase the money and do more damage than good.