Once upon a time the college football landscape in America made sense. Athletic conferences consisted largely of universities within easily identifiable geographic boundaries or regions.

Lots of natural rivalries, relatively easy weekend trips for games on the road.

Contrast those days with some of the conference expansion or realignment scenarios currently being offered. Among them Louisville and/or Pittsburgh to the Big 12, Louisville or Clemson to the SEC, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State to the PAC12, Missouri to the SEC, the PAC 12 or the Big East. Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri and Iowa State to the Big East. There’s a new rumor every day, the latest being West Virginia as a leading SEC candidate.

The only thing some of the schools have in common is they play football.

The Big Ten, the conference that started it all, has been unusually quiet since Nebraska was added as the 12th member. The inaction won’t last long, not with Jim Delaney as commissioner, the one who suggested Rutgers, Syracuse and Pittsburgh might fit before dousing them with ice water. Any day now the Big Ten will send a signal that it’s not done, further scrambling the conference expansion picture.

TV money is obviously the driving force behind the expansion mania. But also involved are the massive egos of the jocks, the kingpins running the conferences, each trying to outdo the other. Just a matter of time before they decide they’re bigger than the NCAA and form their own governing body.

In the process of realigning the conferences and whatever follows, they may wind up inflicting serious damage on college athletics, especially on the non-revenue programs. It will be occurring at a time when the integrity of many programs are being exposed.

Natural rivalries are threatened, economies are exaggerated, and tradition is trivialized, not to mention the effects of so much travel on athletes and their studies. And, as in any economic endeavor, the days of escalating television revenues won’t last forever.

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By Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.

4 thoughts on “Conference expansion in a Land of Make Believe”
  1. Just hope there’s a home for Kansas, whether Kansas joins the Big East, or Louisville, Pittsburgh join the Big 12. Eager for this mess to settle down but I don’t think it will anytime soon. I think these conference commissioners are going to create a mess they’re gong to regret in the not-too-distant future.

  2. The Eers are going to singing S-E-C, S-E-C, S-E-C pretty soon. The program is irresistible and we’ll blend right in in this football crazy conference. See ya, Big East!

  3. The Big 12 is a dead man walking. OU and OSU are going to the PAC 12. Texas and Texas Tech will probably follow. The super coferences are on the way even though no seems to want them.

  4. The only teams I see regretting all of this conference building, will be wannabees like Kansas. Let’s face it they really just don’t belong in a major football conference. They bring no revenue to the table and BB doesn’t cut it. Louisville stands a better chance for a room at the ACC Inn when the dust clears, but don’t hold your breath for the SEC. Eventually the B12 and Big Least will either simply dissolve in the formation of super conferences or amass a slue of mid-majors to fill the roster. Kansas is just screwed unless they find a way to join the P16 if TX goes elsewhere. Tough canochkies KS, the charade is over.

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