Things don’t always work out the way you expect, but with the move of UCLA and USC to the Big Ten, it looks like the end of the NCAA.
What do you call a college athletic conference that has both UCLA and Maryland?
It’s not really a conference anymore, at least not in the sense that we always thought of one. It’s really more of a professional league. Toss in NIL and whatever reforms come in compensation and, really, what else can you call it?
We’re surprised that the PAC-
12 10 lost its best assets so quickly. Part of that has to be the inept reign of the previous commissioner, Larry Scott, who was more concerned with his perks than he was with, say, getting a decent TV deal for the league.
So essentially, we appear to be in the late stages of the Big Ten and the SEC carving up NCAA football. It’s hard to say what will happen with the ACC, where media rights are locked up for a while yet, or the Big 12 or what’s left of the PAC-12. And the rest of the NCAA?
Here’s one interesting thing to consider. As you may remember, over the past decade or so, maybe a little longer, the state of California banned representatives of the state from visiting other states for various things. The last time we saw the list it included Florida, Arkansas, Texas, Alabama, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Kentucky, North Carolina, Kansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, West Virginia, Idaho, Iowa, North and South Dakota and Montana.
We don’t know if the list is still current, but the only Big Ten state on the list is Iowa. Nine SEC schools are on it, which might make the SEC a tougher sell for California schools and the legislature as things evolve.
The amazing thing to us is that college football is driving this. We watch it a bit, like most people, but it’s a slow game with lots of pauses. So is baseball, but basically, baseball is what you watch at a picnic, you know? It’s the whole Carlin routine on football vs. baseball: in baseball you go home.
At this point, given the amount of money that’s going to come in, and given the public recognition that something fundamental has changed, and that this really ends the last pretense of what we used to call college sports, it’s time to just go ahead and cut the players in financially - and not for a pittance either. No one is sitting in the stands to watch Nick Saban, you know?
And for that matter, if that’s where we are, why not just compete with the NFL? Just end the four-year/five year scholarship facade, quit worrying about school unless someone actually wants to get a degree for some reason, and keep the talent. There’s really no reason to do any kind of tax exemption anymore either, if any exemptions are left. Business is business: pay up.
Of course our main concern here is college basketball and it’s really hard to know where that goes. Probably not anywhere good.
The joy of college basketball is the NCAA tournament and while everyone wants to protect that, given how much money it makes, what do you do if the Big Ten and SEC break away? They could theoretically have a tournament with however many teams they end up with - let’s just say 64 to keep things relatable.
That’s the end of St. Peter’s and Davidson. No more George Masons or VCU’s.
More than that, we’ve lost so much regional character. LA schools in the Big Ten? Texas and Oklahoma in the SEC? West Virginia in the Big 12? Syracuse in the ACC?
Look, clearly things change. They always do. It’s just that it’s not always for the better. This change, in our estimation, may be inevitable, but it’s not for the better. We miss the old days. Damn TV anyway.