Ain’t College Football Grand?

(published August 18, 2011)

Got to love college football.

Got to.

Texas A&M wants to take its balls – foot-, basket- and other — into the Southeastern Conference.  This is a little disconcerting to those of us old enough to remember when it was in the Southwest Conference.

The folks at the University of Texas, whose forthcoming Longhorn Network supposedly tipped the scales too far in this bitter rivalry between the haves and the have-mores, are amused by the shift.  They never met an Aggie who knew east from west anyway.

The SEC has to decide if Aggie-appeal in the Houston and Dallas television markets offsets the further split of bowl revenue from its ten or eleven teams that play in them.

Relax, Governor Perry.  It’s the Southeastern Conference, not the Securities and Exchange Commission.  We’ve talking about true unfettered capitalism here, the genius of the free market working its magic.

The Aggies haven’t played in the Big 12 Conference championship game since 1998.  Mediocre second division teams are usually more concerned about relegation than promotion.

Texas A&M’s administration is certain its passionate fans will have no trouble transferring their hatred from UT to their new natural rivals, LSU and Arkansas.


Missouri is rumored to be a candidate to go along with A&M, since a conference must have an even number of teams.  This would leave the Big 12, which currently has ten teams, with eight, enabling it to return to its previous name, the Big Eight.

A better name (in football, anyway) would be Texas, Oklahoma & Friends.

The Big 12 can’t change its name to reflect its ten-team status, because there’s already a Big Ten conference, which, naturally, has twelve teams.

And we wonder why our kids suck at math?

They’re not too good at geography, either.  Colorado and Utah have joined the Pacific 12 conference (which, in an effort to keep us on our toes, actually has twelve teams).  Wanna buy an ocean-view condo in Boulder or Salt Lake City?

The Big Ten has had eleven teams for twenty-one years.  (Maybe a conference can have an odd number of teams.)  Rather than changing its name, it decided to add Nebraska this year, presumably in an effort to scare Northwestern into joining the Ivy League.

When you have twelve teams, you can divide into two divisions and stage a profitably sponsored championship game between the winners.  With no obvious geographical split to exploit, The Big Ten has named its six-team groupings the Leaders and Legends Divisions.

Broadcasters across the country have spent eight months learning to utter these names without giggling uncontrollably.

Here’s a serious suggestion for the conference: Name your divisions after great players and coaches of the distant past.  Rename them every two years to prevent Michigan State from getting upset at being stuck forever in the Schembechler Division.  Surprise everyone by skipping Bo and Woody and beginning with the Red Grange (Illinois) and Bronko Nagurski (Minnesota) Divisions.

When it’s Northwestern’s turn, flip a coin to decide between Otto Graham and Glenn Thistlethwaite.

Awful as Leaders and Legends are, they at least avoid the absurdity of the Atlantic Coast Conference’s divisional names: Atlantic and Coastal, which beg the question, which coast if not Atlantic?  The answer, I suppose, could be the Gulf of Mexico, except that the only team near it, Florida State, is in the Atlantic division.

The Unspecified Coast division includes the Miami Hurricanes, who have made a few headlines this week.  A booster serving time in prison for his involvement in a $930 million Ponzi scheme revealed that over an eight-year period, he expressed his support for Miami’s football and basketball players with cash payments, jewelry, prostitutes, parties in his multimillion-dollar mansions and yacht, travel, and abortion service on an as-needed basis.

Aren’t parties and mansions and yachts and the rest the main reason that actual students choose to go to the University of Miami?

The NCAA is particularly upset that this gentleman, Nevin Shapiro, was co-owner of a sports agency that signed several Miami players from the period.  Money and hookers and parties are one thing, but professional representation will be the ruination of the college game.

Shapiro told Yahoo! that Miami coaches knew or participated directly in his efforts.  Miami might face the NCAA’s “death penalty” for repeated willful violations.

The most significant part of the story is the fact that absolutely nothing about it is the least bit surprising.

How dare those greedy kids put their selfish interests ahead of the integrity of the sport?



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