This has been one of the darkest 24 hours in the history of intercollegiate athletics. First, the University of Nebraska has seemingly decided to join the Big 10 conference (which has included 11 teams for about 9 years now). Second, the University of Colorado has joined the Pac 10 conference which pretty much means the end of the Big 12 conference. Last, the NCAA decided to come down very hard on the USC athletic program for problems with recruiting and improper benefits for ONE player 5 years ago. Now, USC deserved to be penalized for improper benefits because that is against the rules of the NCAA, but let's look a little more carefully at the "rules" and figure out how they are regularly ignored. When thinking about these "rules" let's think about the goals of intercollegiate athletics-- creating a good atmosphere for student-athletes to thrive in an educational environment. Now, the rule USC broke was that "boosters" gave Reggie Bush's parents the opportunity to live in a condo. That is wrong, but what did this really do to affect the student-athletes in an educational environment? Let's go up to Michigan where their football program has been "slapped on the wrist" for over-working their players. They were way over the allotted time for practice and encouraging players to skip classes! This happened during the spring or when football is not even in session and when players take heavier loads to make up for the fall! What about the Memphis basketball team in 2009 who COMBINED had lower than a 2.0 GPA!! This is within an environment of athletics where students regularly take classes in "athletic management" and "sports education" full of "friendly" instructors to the athletic departments. What about schools and programs who are graduating less than 10% of their athletes in football and basketball? There are no standards for graduation rates! Why? Money.
That transitions into the upcoming conference re-alignment. Historically, the intercollegiate conferences were about regional leagues to schedule games and tournaments. These conferences like the "Southwest" and "Southeast" created a sense of regional pride and highlighted a cultural landscape. Now, Nebraska wants to join the Big 10. This makes a lot of sense financially, because the Big 10 Conference owns its own television network which is a large pot of money the Cornhuskers want a part. Culturally, firing up the RV and taking the road trip from Omaha to East Lansing is just a little less sexy than it might seem. Rolling into State College, PA in November is about as close to death as I can imagine. Now, what about the spineless turds at Colorado. Well, they bolted for the Pac 10 as soon as they possibly could so that they would not be left "holding the bag" for a raided and pillaged Big 12. (Missouri is likely also joining the Big 10 and many other Big 12 schools are discussing jumping ship to the Pac 10) It makes perfect sense because the University of Colorado is the most arrogant, unrealistic, and over-rated University outside of the Ivy League and University of Virginia. Colorado has nothing culturally similar to the Pacific coast except for all those California transplants who helped crashed the front-range housing and job market. Ralphie, the real American Bison mascot of the University, will really be seen positively on the progressive campuses of Berkeley and Stanford. Playing that forward, Bevo-- the real Texas longhorn, will be really popular in Eugene and at UW.
So what does this tragic 24 hours really mean? It is a stark reminder of how broken the NCAA is and how its own hypocrisy and myopia will ultimately lead to its implosion and demise. While these administrators and bloat to university athletics have been seeking to crack down on minor recruiting infractions, they have been asleep at the wheel and let the Super Conferences create their own unbelievable revenue streams and create a professional sports atmosphere where practice trumps studying and graduation is nearly meaningless. When the new ULTRA conferences are finalized, the largest 4 or 5 conferences will no longer even need the NCAA and its silly bowls and tournaments. Why not have their own playoff system like the pros and negotiate their own television and marketing deals? NCAA, you have seemingly driven a stake through the heart of USC, but due to your misguidance and stupidity, you have simply made yourself irrelevant.