A few weeks ago, Texas A&M University announced it was leaving its current conference, the Big 12, for the powerhouse SEC. While there is legal wrangling going on and the move hasn’t yet happened, it appears it will eventually. The SEC has voted to accept A&M as its 13th member. The Big 12 falling apart is, as it seems, imminent and the rise of the Pac-12 and the SEC are becoming great options for teams in the Big 12. Unfortunately, this is only true for the big name schools like Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, and Texas Tech. The future is unknown for the smaller schools like Baylor, Iowa State and Kansas State.
This conference realignment really started last year, when Nebraska and Colorado decided to leave the Big 12 for the Big Ten and Pac-10 (as it was known then), respectively. Utah gave the Pac-10 its new name by agreeing to move from the Mountain West. But, what seems evident to me is that this conference realignment that is going on is not good for college sports.
Take TCU for example. The reigning Rose Bowl champs have decided to make the move from the Mountain West to the Big East and will begin playing a Big East schedule next year. However, the school is TEXAS Christian University. I mean, any conference game will be a solid plane trip away, causing their growing fan base to possibly dwindle. Although TCU has plenty of talent and NCAA credentials, plus the ability to easily compete in the Big East, the location issues continue to leave most college football fans wondering why they are moving. The answer is pretty simple, though. It is all about the money. By being in the Big East, TCU has a chance to automatically qualify for a BCS bowl game each year by winning the conference title.
Another pivotal part of college sports being affected by this conference realignment is the rivalries that make the sport what it is. Texas-Texas A&M, Nebraska-Oklahoma, these are just a couple of the longtime matchups that have always made college football exciting. But, with teams moving away from the conferences they share with their rivals, these big games just might fade away. Teams can’t afford to continue playing big-time non-conference matchups. If Texas A&M leaves the Big 12, then its long-time rivalry with Texas might never be seen again. The same thing is true with the Longhorns and the Sooners. My favorite part of the sport might never be the same thanks to the realignment that is taking the college world by storm.
Overall, I am not a fan of some of the biggest and most storied schools in the NCAA are leaving the conferences that they have become legendary in. But I am not the athletic director at Texas, or the president of Oklahoma. I am just a college football fan, wanting to see my favorite teams play their most hated rivals. I look forward each week to sitting down Saturday night and watching two top 10 teams duke it out for the top spot in both the nation and their respective conference. It sure looks like that is going to change, though. And I don’t think these changes are for the better.