A dash for cash

The charade that is "college" athletics took a strange turn today, as USC and UCLA announced they are quitting the Pacific-12 Conference to join the Big 10. "We are joining a conference that shares our values of academic excellence, athletic competitiveness and diversity and inclusion across all sports," blah blah blah. It's all about money. The Big 10 rakes in tons more cash than the Pac-12 ever will, from the television contracts. Don't kid yourself, that's the be-all and end-all here.

I feel sorry for the athletes who will now have to fly back and forth across the country all season long to play conference games. I'm equally bummed for some of the marginal sports, like that southern California specialty, beach volleyball. Those athletes won't even get to play in the same conference that the other teams from their schools do. They're not real big on beach volleyball in Nebraska.

Oh, well. A lot of the most talented kids in the big-money games skip college entirely nowadays and go directly into the pro ranks, or they take that leap after one short season. And the players who do go to school can now cash in with marketing deals while they're still "students." But what's really been lost is the sense that a non-athlete student used to have, that those players down there in the uniforms represented them. Everybody knows they don't.

I wonder what the Ducks are going to do, or more accurately, what Phil Knight is going to tell the Ducks to do. Oregon is now the marquee team among the Pac-"12" survivors, but like their L.A. rivals, they don't have to stay in the league past next year. Given their inferiority complex and fear of missing out, they may bolt, too.


  1. What began as good natured competition between colleges and universities located in the same regions has gone completely off the deep end over TV money. Athletics seems to have a huge amount of control over these schools. They don't care about 100+ years of tradition and working together. They don't care about any sport other than football and maybe men's basketball. They don't care about the "student-athletes", they don't care about the fans and alumni who actually attended these 12 universities. It's all a money grab based on football, a game known to damage brains. Perhaps some of these institutions might step back and take the opportunity to get out of the money race. It would be refreshing to watch real students play sports again.

  2. College football is now the NFL and AFL. Soon enough, they'll separate themselves and leave the NCAA behind. It also means a complete reimagining of events like March Madness and the College World Series. That's coming too.

    So wither west coast college athletics? They need to go all-in on Vegas and build something new. If Phil is the innovator he says he is (he's not), he'll do this. Accepting Little Brother status with the Big Ten will just make sure you're the little brother forever.

    1. FYI, the American Football League went out of business 52 years ago when it merged with the National Football League.


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