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Farmer: Oklahoma to Pac-? (Sept. 5)

Douglas Farmer | Monday, September 5, 2011

This is the first instance of a new Observer feature. A series of 10 Observer sportswriters will have columns appear in this space on a bi-weekly rotation. Hopefully some of these writers will grab your attention, and you’ll know when and where to find more of their thoughts.

Rumors insist Oklahoma will be a conference rival of USC’s by the end of September. At the least Oklahoma State would likely join the Sooners in the Pac-[insert number here]. The Big 12 would be down to at most eight teams, ironic considering that is where it started, and, for that matter, thrived.

From there, who knows what could happen. The Big “12” could disappear entirely, dissolving into some combination of the Big East, the Pac-16 and independents. The Big East would become even more of a basketball bonanza, theoretically picking up schools such as Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri. The Big Ten, already at 12 teams, could expand to 14, though it currently insists it is fine with its dozen.

Texas and Notre Dame would hold the keys to the apocalypse, deciding to stand independent or join one of these burgeoning conferences.

But really, who cares?

No really, why do we care?

Tradition? Ha. That went out the window when the BCS came about and handed the most important decisions of the college football season over to computers.

As soon as the Rose Bowl, my grandfather’s favorite sporting event each year, masqueraded as the BCS National Championship Game in 2002, tradition became a myth. Miami in the Rose Bowl? Five years and two days after his death – he died during the 1997 Rose Bowl – I am sure the Army veteran rolled over in his grave at the thought of The U in “The Grandaddy of ‘Em All.”

Oh, we care about realignment because of the preservation of rivalries? Oh relax, those will continue in some form or another. Maybe Texas and Oklahoma no longer meet every season. That might not be a bad thing – did anybody care about the Red River Shootout last year? Not in the least.

But imagine, if they were to meet in the Rose Bowl, Oklahoma representing the Pac-100 and Texas a member of the Big Ten, but really 14. That match-up would be the biggest in the rivalry’s history. That year’s Super Bowl would not get as much media love. Thus is the power of college football.

And it is that power which is spurring this realignment. A year ago college football fans chewed their fingernails down to their knuckles with worry, anticipation and speculation about the shifting landscape. The resulting moves caused as many waves as a field goal in the Atlantic Ocean would. Colorado and Utah to the Pac-12 and Nebraska to the Big Ten? No offense intended to the Big Red or the Buffs, but – yawn.

Now, college football fans are too engrossed in this season – rightfully so considering how baffling the opening weekend was – to pay proper attention to the newest round of shifts.

University presidents, athletic directors and football coaches are going to execute this switch under their fans’ noses. Imagine Boise State and its pseudo-Statue of Liberty play circa the 2007 Fiesta Bowl: Look right, go left. That is the decision-maker play call right now. Understandably so.

Understandably so because we should not care. This realignment is inevitable. Money wins. Money always wins.

We, the fans, have given college football the right to change its ways because we gave it as much attention as we do. And we aren’t about to stop.

As long as there still is college football, we’ll keep watching. The Pac-250 will make some more money off us, and Texas will rule the Lone Star State with even more authority.

These aren’t the worst things in the world, as long as there still is college football.

 

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

Contact Douglas Farmer at dfarmer1@nd.edu