Sports Nest: Conference realignment gives us funny math, geography

By Matt Nestor
Sports Columnist

The landscape of the college world is going through dramatic changes. Conference expansion. Conference implosion.

The Big Ten now has 12 teams.

The Big Twelve now has 10 teams.

The Pacific Coast Conference now has a team in Colorado.

The Southeastern Conference wants to add Texas and Oklahoma.

The Big East has Cincinnati and Marquette.

And the beat goes on and on in the upside-down, money-grabbing world of college athletics. For a group that prides itself on having the integrity of amateur sports, everything it does is centered on making big money.

The Big Ten will tell you they have thought long and hard about what institutions they want to add, making sure they find a school that meets its long-standing academic achievements.

While the conference does boast some of the top schools in the country, the choice of Nebraska was based on one thing only: money from football.

The addition of Nebraska allows the conference to host a title game, which will bring in extra sponsorship revenue. It will also allow the conference more opportunities to get two teams into the BCS, which will up revenue.

All in all, some indicate the numbers could mean up to $22 million more in revenue for each conference member, a financial bonanza.

All the other schools you hear the Big Ten discuss are about television revenue. The conference wants Notre Dame real bad because they come with a large following. You hear Rutgers and Syracuse discussed because it would give the conference a presence in the New York market, which is the largest market in the country.

The SEC is acting more like vultures, ready to pick apart the leftovers. Texas, the crown jewel of conference expansion, and Oklahoma, long thought to be moving to the PAC-10, are now looking hard at the SEC, as is Texas A&M.

There is also talk of them trying to take Florida State and Miami from the ACC, which would probably lead to the ACC poaching more teams from the Big East.

The PAC-10 has been the most respectable bunch in these sleazy, backroom meetings. They have been completely upfront about their desire to get a larger piece of the pie.

The conference used to say they did not want to expand because of regional and academic standards. They now say that they want more recognition and money, which is the most truthful thing anyone has said about any of this.

In the end, what this will all do is make a handful of schools much, much richer, while the smaller schools will suffer even more. It will also mean smaller, non-revenue-generating sports will suffer even more.

Football, and to a smaller extent basketball, fund most of the sports at their universities. And while there will be more money available for the super power conferences, smaller schools and smaller conferences will get an even smaller piece of the pie, which will probably lead to more sports being cut at the smaller schools.

With the cuts there, that will likely lead to some cuts even at the bigger schools, because they will have no one to play.

College athletics, for all intents and purposes, is dead, as we know it. Traditions are being thrown out the window. It is among the biggest money-making businesses in the country anymore, only the people who are generating the money get nothing out of it.

The money just goes into paying coaches and building bigger stadiums and better facilities, which will only go to increase the revenue.

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From the June 16-22, 2010 issue

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