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More Conference Migration, Musical Chairs?

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musical chairs
musical chairs

Oh no. Not again. Florida State might just be the next major FBS program to pitch a temper tantrum about their current conference financial arrangement and threaten to blow up college football once more. And these aren't just rumors this time. University president Eric Barron has written a memo about the pros and cons of the Seminoles abandoning the Atlantic Coast for The Big 12.

But I thought the Big 12 was no more? Close--and don't feel bad for thinking that. Reports of their premature demise have been widely exaggerated and even more widely believed. The conference that got whittled down to eight schools before picking up TCU, West Virginia, and a team to be named later, is still vertical and possibly looking to expand again. Gentlemen, fire your engines, bonfires, and couches.

FSU's teacher-college mamas didn't raise no dummies, however. Looks like the bottom line of the memo lays the odds of looking west virtually zilch as the greatest downside is possibly losing the rivalry with Miami. Oooh, snub to the Gators. Never mind about protecting SEC rivalries, I see.

Oh, and I guess he made mention about distance, academics, a buy-out, and if you read in between the lines, something about entering into a contract of indentured servitude with Texas for an unspecified interval of time.

My best guess is that this is just posturing at being unhappy about the new financial package of the conference and rumors of drawing a little red ink in the athletic department. It could also be an attempt to shore up the ACC universe to orbit a little more around Tallahassee. Besides, the path to a BCS title is probably a little easier through the ACC than through even a slimmed-down Big 12. Just think, even though the last team from your conference to play in a BCS title game will have been fourteen years ago, at least it was YOU.

Even with virtually no chance of FSU defecting now, there are some who think that the Big 12 ought to open up all four barrels of the carburetor and attempt to pick up every wayward or lost team in an attempt to regain divisional status and contend for BCS titles again.

With a fantasy slate of proposals to Notre Dame, BYU, FSU, Miami, Clemson, and Louisville, no one could ever accuse any Big 12 plan including that lineup as being modest, but there's one thing we all need to take into consideration before we go blowing up college football again:


This isn't the NFL. College football has always been about regional rivalries that are within driving distance. You can't leave Tallahassee on a Friday afternoon and expect to make it into Austin by kickoff easily. Same with South Bend and Clemson. Never mind the pitfalls of attempting to meld rivalries together with teams that have nothing in common.

Gerrymandering together an artificial conference who's expanse is clear across half the nation for the purpose of soothing school egos and enriching athletic departments coffers is fundamentally wrong and is an abomination to the history and culture of our sport. And I'm tired of it. It's past time for the fans to make a stand. Otherwise it's going to continue. It becomes a big game of who will blink next.

The genie is out of the bottle as far as most big-time athletic departments operate these days--they are multi-million dollar corporations, and prudence demands they be run like big business. As a market capitalist, I can't deny nor defy market forces, but the fan in me still thinks this will all end badly for the sport.

Ironically, the greatest harbinger of things to come may have been uttered recently by the president of the University of Texas, the team that first blew up college football:

"We may get to a point — I want to underline the word 'may' — where many schools are really not in a position to compete at the level of the Floridas and the Notre Dames and the Texases and the USCs. Like any competitive business, being in it and not really being in the game, you can get hurt."

It's coming, folks. The big money programs may soon split from the have-nots and form their own alliance outside the NCAA. As many problems as we think we have now, something like that will be the death of college football as we know it.