College Football’s Shifting Sands

Over the past few weeks, I’ve received more and more comments about the recent maneuverings in college conferences – some questions quite facetious and some very serious.

“How will all this movement among the conferences affect Hawaii?” “How will it affect schools outside the so-called super-conferences?” “Will this eventually lead to a Division I football playoff?” “Just who is in control?”

Conference movement – whether actual or rumored – will always be scary for Hawaii. It does-n’t take a genius to tell you that. All you have to do is look at a map. But the strength of the Hawaii exemption, plus a proud sports tradition here, and the lure of traveling to paradise will always keep UH in the picture, regardless of Boise State’s departure after next year. The Warriors should consider it a great opportunity to win a few more conference football titles.

The strengthening of the so-called super conferences beginning in the 2011-12 season – with the Big Ten going to 12 schools by adding Nebraska; the Big 12 losing Colorado and Nebraska, but staying together with Texas in the lead and a new multimillion-dollar television contract in place; the Mountain West losing Utah but gaining powerful Boise State; and the Pac-10 expanding from the West Coast into Utah and Colorado – will probably have less of an impact on the college football world than you think. Because the Big 12 hung together, effectively becoming the BTOOG (Big Texas/Oklahoma and those Other Guys), the college football landscape isn’t going to look that much different than it does today.

For those who wonder if all this will lead to a Division I football playoff, unfortunately the answer is still “no.” As long as the super-conferences – the Big Ten, SEC, Big 12, Pac-10, Big East, ACC, and that little independent known as Notre Dame – remain powerful with huge attendance and mega-television contracts and big bowl pay-outs, the status quo will prevail. Sad, but true.

And that answers the question about who is in control – no, not the bowl officials or the TV executives or even the NCAA. The university presidents are. The presidents recognize that college sports, especially major college football, are tremendously popular and drive up revenue, enrollment and ultimately the prestige of their universities.

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