Guide to the SEC: Conference RealignmentPosted: December 3, 2012
As promised I’m here to mock Mizzou for you…er well sort of.
I’m about five weeks late.
The thing is, how do you mock a school you know nothing about? After all, many of my war stories and satire of other fans in the SEC comes from personal experience. We all know each other, we all hate each other, but in the end (and this is VERY grudging with regards to Mississippi State), we all RESPECT each other. I’ve had encounters with just about every type of SEC creature out there. There’s always plenty of material. But…what the heck is a Mizzou?
Yes I know it’s the nickname for the University of Missouri just like Ole Miss is what a non Yankee calls the University of Mississippi. But there’s where the similarities end. I’ve never seen Mizzou in person, never followed the old Big 12 North (or Big Eight before that), spent about 5 hours in St. Louis once, and flew over the state a couple of times. I think I watched them on TV once or twice when inexplicably they had them ranked in the top five and after two or three plays lost interest.
These guys…THESE GUYS are in my beloved SEC. I don’t think so.
NOT WORTHY OF SATIRE
Friends, rather than waste too much southern fried gigabytes on the matter let me just say this. From what I’ve seen of them this past year they are dorks. And I want them out of my league.
Sure, Texas A&M is new as well. Here’s the thing. They’re in the South. Maybe not so much South-EASTERN, but they’re on the right side of the sweet-tea line even if they make barbecue out of cow instead of hog. They have history. They have tradition. They can win a game or two in conference. They even slayed the Tuscaloosa Beast right in Bryant-Denny on their first conference try. They have my attention and they have my respect.
Those other guys? I saw matching school spirit t-shirts, Glee-esque choreography in the student section, Conference USA uniforms, a smallish stadium, trash talk against err…um..Kansas…and although a “border state” a campus a little too close to Iowa for my taste. I don’t like it. No sir.
So why pray tell are they crashing our party? Let me get to the real topic at hand here. An ugly thing called conference realignment.
It’s why I’m forced to write about Missouri.
EVERYBODY REALLY HATES CONFERENCE REALIGNMENT
Tradition. It’s what makes Southern college football special. Between the Hedges, Death Valley, The Grove. War Eagle, Gator Bait, Roll Tide. Bryant, Dooley, Neyland. Manning, Walker. Cannon. We all know what those terms and phrases mean and we don’t like when they get changed up on us. I don’t know about you but I was just starting to get used to Arkansas and South Carolina.
Tradition. It’s what makes college football special in the rest of the country too. Yep, even those blue state conferences have a little history to them whether you like your helmets with wings or mini pot leaf stickers on them. And believe it or not some of those Yankee folks are just as upset at realignment as we are down here.
It has to do with putting teams from the wrong geographic area, wrong culture, and wrong playing style into a conference with a very well established sense of doing things. In other words, it may surprise you to find out that there are indeed different kinds of Yankees. And they often don’t understand or get along with one another.
Why on earth would the Big Ten take on Rutgers and Maryland?
I mean it’s one thing for the Big Ten to fudge some math take on a school or two past the number ten. Penn State was a good fit. Nebraska…pushing it a little, but still understandable. Scarlet Knights and Terps? Not so much. Really awful when you think about. Totally wrong and evil if you care about the Big Ten (or are pretending to for this article in order to make a point about throwing Mizzou out of the SEC).
The Midwest is Bob Seger country. It’s hard-working, plain, earnest, and about 15 years behind the times. It’s putting on your finest pair of sweatpants and ordering up an extra helping of ranch dressing with your cheese fries darn it while apologizing for saying darn it. Rutgers and Maryland…they’re the kids dumping the ranch dressing in your lap, and giving you the finger for causing them to do it, while they’re on their way to grind dance against the chick with big hair.
It’s like Sparty went and got a barbed wire tattoo….nay two barbed wire tattoos.
What makes it worse (just like Mizzou), Rutgers and Maryland don’t add anything to your football skill set. It’s not like the bigger Big Ten schools haven’t already recruited out of those areas. In fact, both schools are likely to be cannon fodder on the gridiron against most of their new conference opponents. Nope it makes no sense. Unless…
Yep…TV markets. Maryland and Rutgers brings the conference New York and DC. Lots of television sets tuned in by folks who forgot that the Redskins and Giants aren’t playing until the next day. In return Rutgers and Maryland get to fill their coffers with TV money and also fill their half empty stadiums with alums from Michigan, Penn State, and THE Ohio State University that churns out thousands of degrees but can’t employ them in state.
So the big name schools get a few more easy “home” games, while the Sopranos extras get a chance to wet their beaks in a more prestigious and lucrative market.
Kind of like having to play Missouri and getting to count it as a conference win.
SO WHOSE FAULT IS THIS?
Short answer: Texas and Notre Dame.
Notre Dame for refusing to join a conference for football. They will be joining the ACC for everything else but football. Because lots of people really want to pay to see Notre Dame golf. Good for you ACC. It’s like you went up to the hottest girl in school, carried her books for her and helped her with her homework. But she’s not gonna go out with you because she’s just not that into you. Notre Dame wants to remain friends ACC.
Notre Dame has their own independent TV deal with NBC, and Notre Dame feels it doesn’t need to bow to any authority this side of Rome. In short, I hate Notre Dame but will spend more time pummeling them when I cover the National Championship game in a few weeks.
Then there’s the Texas Longhorns. We all knew a kid back in kindergarten who never got the concept of sharing. They always hogged the best toys or the sand box and so always ended up playing by themselves. Did you know that kid grew up to be the school president at the University of Texas?
Do y’all remember when the Big 12 had twelve teams? Do you remember when the Big 12 had a championship game which let’s say made it a bit harder for Texas to walk into a BCS game? Remember how Texas didn’t like nor feel the need to participate in such an extra round of football?
That’s because Texas feels that other schools should be honored just to have the privilege of playing in the same conference with them. Their arrogance and refusal to back conference revenue sharing (which is how Vanderbilt stays profitable in the SEC) caused Colorado, Nebraska, Missouri, and Texas A&M to seek greener pastures. It got even worse when Texas negotiated their own TV network with ESPN Notre Dame style.
What’s funny is how Texas mocked Texas A&M, predicted their doom in the SEC and lack of relevance without the Longhorns pushing them around. In the end, the Aggies have done quite well, will soon out recruit Texas and will become the destination football school in the state because they play in the prestige conference.
So thanks Texas for giving us the Aggies…
but then again, now we have Missouri.
SO IF WE MUST HAVE CONFERENCE REALIGNMENT…
Okay, I understand why we have to have a little conference shuffling now and then. But why can’t we fix some of the old problems and realign conferences that make better sense culturally and geographically? I used to like the ACC. I grew up in ACC country. And I remember when the ACC game of the week was sponsored by Food Lion and showed local barbecue commercials and car dealer ads with a bit of a twang to them. That WAS the ACC…the South’s other prestige conference. The ACC ruled, still ruled, and will always rule the sport of basketball. Southern Blogger doesn’t like the game of basketball but without a doubt that is their thing. Then they tried to compete with the SEC and put together a prestige football conference. They picked up Miami and Virginia Tech in the hopes of giving Florida State a little thing called competition.
Well a lot has changed since 2 Live Crew was getting banned from nightclubs and Russell Maryland was leading the country in sacks. Miami stinks. They’ve stunk for over a decade now and it looks like due to sanctions it’s going to be that way for a while. Miami to me is like getting a great deal on a 1986 Porsche. You’ve always wanted a Porsche and this one is a real classic. You might even trick it out with some custom Scarface graphics. And then you find that the engine is shot because someone filled the gas tank with cocaine. Got duped again ACC.
Then there is my second school (already covered in detail) Virginia Tech. They have a tendency to win in the ACC most years but can’t finish the bowl game. When your conference gets its butts handed to them in the bowl games it’s a sign that your conference really isn’t that tough to begin with. You know…I just don’t hear fans chanting “A-C-C , A-C-C” at the Chick Fil-A Bowl. You kind of have to win to do that.
But then the ACC decided to lose its roots and embrace Yankeedom full on. It was already bad enough having the University of Connecticut at Durham, they had to go ahead and add Boston College, Syracuse, and Pitt into their ranks. As I once said out loud in Blacksburg “you can take the school out of the Big East but you can’t take the Big East out of the school”. Certainly this helps make the conference nearly impossible to defeat in basketball. But first of all, this blog cares little for basketball, and two no amount of championships is worth doubling your quotient of hair gel in the stands. Don’t listen to Nike…just don’t do it.
But wait they have Notre Dame now….oh right except football. Doh!
So for several years I’ve proposed that the SEC rescue the last remaining unquestionable Southern (and football oriented) schools in the conference; Clemson and Florida State. But every time the SEC had put out feelers to those schools they get rejected. Wouldn’t Clemson and Florida State make sense in the SEC? They have big stadiums, a preference for the Orange Bowl over the Math Bowl, good-looking coeds, good football traditions, and the ability to actually win a game or two.
But that’s just it. A game or two. They really don’t want to risk their cakewalk schedules against Wake Forest and Boston College and replace those games with Georgia and Alabama. And so they drown in a sea of basketballs to save their easy route to the BCS. And I guess considering what happens when these schools play Florida and South Carolina you can’t totally blame them.
Yes I can…it’s another reason why we have Missouri.
SO WHOSE FAULT IS THIS? (BIG PICTURE)
Ultimately we can only blame the real gangsters behind the scenes, the Big conference commissioners. These are the guys who negotiate the big TV deals and levy fines and sanctions against their member schools. These are the guys that ensure that the same five schools seem to curiously keep making it to the end. They are the real powers behind the throne. Nobody really remembers what these guys actually looks like or what their names are (unless you are THAT sidewalk alum that pays $49.99 a month to read recruiting updates) so I will make it easier for you. I visualize the heads of the ACC, SEC, Big Ten, and Pac 12 as Tony Soprano, Boss Hogg, Jimmy Hoffa, and Michael Bay.
Think about it. Do these men care about the consumer…the fans, alumni, and students of their respective institutions? I doubt it. What they care about it’s the increasingly gray area of the professionalization of college sports. I blame these guys for screwing up all the traditions and classic schedules of our regional conferences.
And Notre Dame and Texas too!
And of course now we have Missouri.
I think the reality of the last decade or two of college football shows me that this conference realignment is far from over. Who knows how soon it will end? On a positive note, it will likely give us a de facto playoff system with the winners of a few mega-conferences duking it out. But in the end we will be lest with a less Southern SEC, and ACC spreading west of the Atlantic, a less Pacific Pac 12, and a Big Ten that really doesn’t add up. There will be winners and losers in all of this. Certainly one has to blame the SEC office for being the cause of much of this, as well as the other big conferences. They don’t seem to care about the very people who love their product. It’s just going to be too hard to accept some teams in the regular season chase.
The winners will be the big conferences who will get ever-increasing revenue and TV deals and ensure their teams championship success. The losers will be the smaller schools that will have to either drop down a division or drop college football. The poor Big East will be forced to have teams on the West Coast, Gulf Coast, Appalachia, as well as the northeast. Travel costs will soon make this arrangement unprofitable and the conference will go the way of the old Southwest Conference (which Texas also screwed up). Every time they get that twelfth team Charlie Brown style, another conference swoops in and picks up the football.
And that is why we have Missouri.
We’ll cover more familiar football topic in the next few weeks with my guides to the SEC championship game, and of course the showdown between Alabama and Notre Dame aka Revenge for Gettysburg.
– Southern Blogger