Blanchette: Have you caught college’s new disaster flick?
Boise State to the Big East Conference.
Really, that’s all we need to read to understand that when it comes to the shuffle of college football’s backstabbers and soul-sellers from conference to conference, it’s not a matter of getting our arms around it but of applying palm to forehead.
To the genre of one-word disaster/doom movies – “Twister,” “Outbreak,” and “Armageddon” – let us add a new entry:
Not all precincts have reported, but the latest count reveals that 24 college football programs have divorced and remarried in the last, oh, 20 months, or will within the next week if you believe the drumbeat. Two of them – TCU and Boise State – will have done so twice, a Kardashian pace. Four more are likely to if you believe Robert “Bob” Kustra, CEO of Boise State University and self-appointed tattler of the FBS swingers’ movement. And four more are either moving up from FCS or starting teams from scratch to join the fun.
Two conferences – the Mountain West and ConferenceUSA – even arranged a hasty and inscrutable alliance, based on their great respect for one another and a desperate need to survive.
When Pac-12 yenta Larry Scott a year ago made his bold pitch to annex almost half the Big 12 – but most especially the University of Texas – dire warnings were sounded that this was the first step toward four 16-team mega-conferences that would show the Democrats and Republicans what real class warfare was all about. Scott, of course, wound up with just Colorado and Utah – and they’ve really added luster to the league, Lar – and the Big 10 drew just one card (Nebraska), so the hand-wringing has turned out to be a little premature.
Still, what’s happened in its stead makes even less sense.
Look, it’s not like we don’t understand all the new paradigms at work here:
—Money talks, spite walks (Texas A&M);
—You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find a prince (TCU);
—Maybe if we join a conference far enough away, people will forget we’re in Idaho (Boise State), and
—These are my principles and if you don’t like them, well, I have others (Groucho Marx).
No, really, there are almost as many reasons for the transience as there are schools on the move: TV windfalls, self-determination, better positioning for BCS automatic qualification, ambition, greed, self-delusion. Tradition, commonality, geography and fan appeal have been kicked to the curb.
Every story on the subject carries the caveat from some educrat that more change is on the horizon. Just how much, we have no idea.
Well, OK, we do. A little.
—San Jose State and Utah State bolt for the Mountain West, Louisiana Tech and New Mexico State for CUSA, leaving just Idaho and two faceless Texas colleges in the WAC. Commissioner Karl Benson retires, saying he’s run out of duct tape.
—West Virginia and Oklahoma inaugurate their new Big 12 series with a rivalry trophy, the Little Brown Still.
—Following the Big Ten’s lead getting away from geographic divisions, the new Mountain West/CUSA alliance announces the Legends, Leaders, Losers and Layabouts divisions.
—TCU, having been a member of six different conferences in 17 years, changes its name to Dennis Erickson University.
—The ACC, not enamored with the Big Ten divisional names, goes for a three-way split into the Atlantic, Coastal and Power Outage divisions.
—Idaho, hoping to get a bounce similar to Texas’ deal with ESPN, launches the Vandal Network, though it is not available on cable, Dish Network or DirecTV but only with rabbit ears. Throw the V!
—In 2023, Brigham Young – still a football independent – wins a 12th straight West Coast Conference basketball tournament, at which point the other league members vote to stage future championship games on Sunday.
—Notre Dame, after declining feelers over the years to become a football member of the Big East, Big Ten, Big 12 and SEC, joins the Mid-American Conference for a better competitive fit.
—Congress launches an investigation of rampant realignment. The Joint Chiefs of Staff announce a ground incursion of the Big East for taking Air Force and Navy but not Army.
—The Mountain West, having poached five schools from the WAC over the years, decides to take that conference’s name, too – since that’s all the Mountain West is anymore.
—The WAC and Sun Belt come to a tentative agreement on a merger, but have to call themselves the WAC Belt rather than the Sun West, after an Arizona retirement community sues for trademark infringement.
—In 2019, Larry Scott invites Texas to join the Pac-12 for a 10th consecutive year.
—The Big Sky Conference goes FBS and declines to accept any WAC refugees, including Idaho.