Slick offers insights on conference realignment

Never at a loss for words, my agent, I.M. Slick, dropped by the other day to clear up the college realignment confusion.

Joe: “I’m feeling dizzy and woozy from all the talk about college realignment.”

Slick: “I feel your pain, my boy, but never fear, I’m your agent and I’m here to help.”

Joe: “Well, that would be a first. But as for the matter at hand, depending on the day of the week and the hour of the day, it seems that the Big 12 is on the endangered species list and in jeopardy of extinction.”

Slick: “Your concern is unfounded. Besides, whether that’s the case or not is immaterial.”

Joe: “Unfounded? Immaterial? How can you say that? A year ago Nebraska and Colorado left for greener pastures, and now Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Texas, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State appear to be shopping around. How can all of these schools and conferences throw away years and years of regional rivalries and tradition?”

Slick: “First of all, drop your love of history and idealistic garbage. University of Colorado President Bruce D. Benson released a statement that a move to the Pac 10 ‘was a perfect match both athletically and academically.’”

Joe: “And you’re buying that?”

Slick: “Of course not.”

Joe: “So why are all of these schools talking about realignment?”

Slick: “It’s all about money and greed, and there’s plenty of that going around.”

Joe: “I guess you would know all about that from personal experience.”

Slick: “True, but I digress. Conferences are looking to land as many heavyweight athletic programs as possible to develop super-conferences and score a bigger television paycheck. Forward-thinking conferences realize that the more powerful athletic programs that are in their corner, the better chance they won’t miss out on the BCS pot of gold at the end of the football season.”

Joe: “But what about all of the travel that will result along with missing class time?

Slick: “Like I said, you’re far too idealistic. It’s not about the student-athletes. It hasn’t been for some time. It’s about making money for the U. If anything, the changes aren’t coming fast enough.”

Joe: “Huh?”

Slick: “Former Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese said, ‘College athletics looks more and more like Wall Street than a group of institutions of higher learning.’

“He makes a valid point. Think of athletic conferences as companies. College football is their most valuable product and that means more money for member schools.”

Joe: “And to be desirable, football programs need to draw viewers to television sets.”

Slick: “Now you’re getting the picture. And there are far more fannies available to sit and watch from their easy chair at home than in the stadium.”

Joe: “And adding a Texas A&M or name-that-school doesn’t necessarily make the SEC stronger but, to use corporate jargon, it expands the league’s footprint.”

Slick: “And it’s not just for peanuts either. The SEC, considered the strongest conference in college football, has a 15-year, $2.25-billion contract with ESPN and a 15-year $825-million deal with CBS. If it gets bigger and stronger with potentially an even bigger TV audience, it can go back to the networks and ask for more.”

Joe: “I can’t help but feel a little sorry for the fans.”

Slick: “This is no time for sentimentalism, my boy. This has never been about the fans. Besides, fans will be able to watch all the games they want and then some until they are bleary-eyed at home.”

Joe: “But if I wanted to watch the NFL, I’d watch the NFL.”

Slick: “That’s what college football needs to recognize in a hurry. Being the NFL is a good thing. Their TV numbers are ridiculous. As a college football fan, are you better off than you were 10 years ago? College football realignment isn’t the end of the world as you know it. Relax.”

Joe: “Thanks for trying to explain this to me, but I’m still dizzy.”

Slick: “Get used to it!”

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