June 9, 2010
Intercollegiate athletics are going to hell in a handbasket. How do I know? Because the NCAA ship is being driven by the root of all evil itself — money.
Like it's not nasty enough that the college and university presidents just tinkered with one of the holiest relics of college sports, the NCAA basketball tournament. Now they seem poised to commit what can only be described as a mortal sin — changing the landscape of college football without installing a playoff system to determine its national champion.
Travel time, class time and academics be damned. How evil is that?
With the smash-and-grab that's about to take place with the conferences embarking on an eat-or-be-eaten mentality, the very soul of intercollegiate athletics is at stake. Only the majority of the sports are of no consequence to what's about to happen. It's all about football and television revenues.
It seems like the Big 12 Conference will be the first chip to fall. Now, my East Coast bias is well-defined — I loathe the Big 12, can't stand the Pac 10 and the one I hate the most is the Big Ten (Eleven). Even so, I don't want to see the Big 12 cast into the abyss.
If you think what's happening out west won't affect us here on the East Coast, you're dead wrong. Consider this scenario:
The Big 12 exodus begins Friday, when Nebraska and Missouri state their intentions to bolt the Big 12 for the Big Ten. Soon after, six other Big 12 schools announce they're headed to the Pac-10, creating the first 16-team "superconference."
To keep up, the Big Ten raids the Big East for three (or more) schools to bring its total to (at least) 16.
If it hasn't already preemptively struck, now the preeminent football power conference of the last decade, the SEC, is forced into action. Now ACC schools, Florida State, Miami and others, are in play.
The ACC is already behind in football. Imagine a day where the traditional ACC schools have only a slim chance of playing in a major football bowl game, because their conference has been further relegated to mid-major status in the sport.
There go the big-name coaches and blue chip recruits.
ESPN's money might be the light that's guiding the ACC's future right now. But if Duke and UNC basketball don't continue to move the ratings, that's only a false sense of security.
We North Carolinians can only hope that our basketball continues to be worth watching. And that basketball is even relevant to the leaders of college sports.
And that the ACC has a heck of a good gameplan.
And that a messiah emerges to save intercollegiate athletics from its leadership.