As the idiocy of realignment continues, the 4-PAC, or whatever is left of the PAC-12 at the moment, is left to pick up the pieces.
There was a suggestion that the ACC might be interested in Stanford and Cal, which would make sense academically, but not in any other way. Well, it would make sense for football, but not for other sports. Football charters of course and you’d only have to fly every other week to the East Coast to play whoever and the current ACC teams would only go to the West Coach periodically.
Toss in a school on the Gulf Coast and you could change it to the All Coast Conference, which makes more sense than a bloated Big Ten or Big 12.
For the other sports though, not only does it not make sense, it makes life insanely difficult.
The Big Ten will have to figure out how UCLA, USC, Washington and Oregon are going to move teams between Nebraska, Maryland and Rutgers, not to mention the various traditional Big Ten teams stretched out across the Midwest. It’s bad enough for men’s basketball, which will charter too, and you could certainly schedule trips with men’s and women’s basketball teams on the same flight. But softball? Wrestling? Fencing?
Those teams are going to have some real issues. And as Missouri football coach Eliah Drinkwitz points out here, there were lots of concerns recently about the transfer portal, but none about what we might call the conference portal. he also points out that a lot of athletes stay close to home so that their families can get to games, but that’s going to be a lot harder now. No one spoke to the athletes about any of this and no one seems to care about the non-revenue teams that will fly commercial and get home from long trips at three or four in the morning, only to be expected to go to class a few hours later.
Those are fair points. And while NIL changes things somewhat, the reality is that the Power Five conferences, more so than any others, are using athletes to generate revenue to which they are still not entitled. It’s getting harder and harder not to see this as rank exploitation.
It won’t be at all surprising if the federal government moves to classify athletes as employees and, subsequently, to see college athletes unionize and demand a cut of the income.
If it comes to that for college sports, well, it’s a self-inflicted wound.