Chaos Isn’t A Pit. Chaos Is A Ladder.

That title is a quote from the HBO series Game Of Thrones. I was reminded of it the other day when someone used it as their reply in a comments section of an article about the current health of college football.

Many fans have been lamenting the fact yet another conference realignment move is now being made. Schools have been switching allegiance from one conference to the other for years now, but the recent decision by California schools USC and UCLA to have their athletic teams participate in the Big Ten Conference has many followers feeling this is the end of college football. They claim college football is dead.

It is.

But…who knows what the sport’s landscape will eventually look like? We are talking about a viewing activity second in popularity only to the National Football League. It’s morphing into something else…what else, who knows?

When collegiate athletic conferences were first organized many moons ago they were for the most part geographical in nature, allowing for regional rivalries to be created or enhanced, as well as to reduce team travel requirements. This also allowed fans to see their teams play home and away in certain instances.

But then TV came along. And with it, the arms race of college football was spawned where television simply couldn’t get enough of college football… and many schools spared absolutely no expense to get on television.

And that’s why we can’t have nice things like traditional college football. Television.

A quote from Drew Hamm of SBNation:

“College football going away from being a fiercely regional sport will eventually kill all that is fun and different about it. The path to becoming NFL Lite is paved with gold for TV execs, the coffers of major athletic departments and the various other power brokers in college sports who do not care what they break in their quest for one more dollar.”

For me, college football certainly was more fun and different when it was regional. My high school’s athletic teams were in a conference and always had annual rivalries with nearby towns. You looked forward each year to hosting and/or visiting your opponents, knowing fans would be with you no matter where you were playing. That’s similar to the college football we all grew up with.

Now, mega-conferences like the Big Ten and the SEC generate their universities massive revenues from television rights fees. This increased exposure on TV helps schools attract athletes and students alike, as well as motivate their alumni to donate more cash. In many instances, football-generated money pays for every other sport these universities sponsor for their students. With these changes in conference allegiance as schools try to align with the best television partners they can, some traditional rivalries have remained…but stakes have been lowered…others eliminated completely. Not just in football, but in all sports.

TV executives have decreed football – all college sports for that matter – do not need ties to geography or history or tradition. When it comes to college football, schools do need to have viewership. Lots of viewers. Some college football teams don’t have as strong a following, and their university athletic departments will wind up in a pit of schools not invited to participate in the newly-configured, upper echelon of college football.

College football is dead, but only for the version a lot of us grew up with. It wasn’t a mega-business then. It is now. Money changes everything. For two California universities to switch allegiances to a conference whose members are in the Midwest and Eastern part of the US, it is a chaotic time for some fans.

From this chaos, the ladder television provides extends upwards towards even more money and exposure.

We need to see who all makes it to the top, and what may be available for those not invited to climb. Then, we can better assess the health of college football.


Picture Courtesy iStock

17 thoughts on “Chaos Isn’t A Pit. Chaos Is A Ladder.”

  1. You had me at Game of Thrones, but lost me soon afterward. That being said, the sure fire way to ruin collegiate athletics is to make it profitable. Money and greed. Sad it’s come to that…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I know little about college football, unless it relates to my local team (woooo pig!). But I was shocked to hear the Big Ten would grow by adding teams outside of what I think of as its fair region. Make it about profits and you’re putting pressure on college kids who deserve better. The NFL is one thing, but college should be fun, not demanding in the way this will make it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. With college players now being able to make money off of their name, image, and likeness…I can see a scenario where taking classes and maintaining a student status might not even be necessary. Players might have contracts with their schools just like pros do with their teams. Interesting times ahead.


      1. Interesting but sad, at least for those of us who believe in an education. I hate to think about players who only get a nominal education or none at all and then find themselves at a young age with no marketable skills–and by young I mean anywhere from 18 to the advanced age of 40, or whatever.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I disagree that college football is dead, but the focus is different … very different. It’s all about money because more means more. There is no limit to more …. and if getting more is at the expense of someone else, they don’t care because more means more.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. All of life changes, Bruce, sometimes fast and sometimes oh so very gradually. I remember too many decades ago attending football games at my beloved U of Maryland and when we’d play squads from states southern the cheer guy on the sidelines would stick a football helmet with branches sticking out the sides on his head and lead the chant “Go back, go back, go back into the woods, hey hey hey.” I think that sentiment rolls into the changes of today somehow.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I loved basketball games at Cole Field House, Bruce, and that’s a fact. That was my time period on campus, of course. I rubbed the Testudo statue’s nose for good luck on a test so many times …

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Change leaves winners and losers in its wake. Sometimes change kills but often it provides something more relevant to younger generations unconnected to the nostalgia of old timers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely, Geoff. I’m interested to see how this all plays out. Interested to see if the top programs really want to beat each other up and have a national champion with a number of losses (as we see in the pros), or if they’re still going to let the “have-nots” hang around to ring up wins against. And as for those “have-nots,” they may be able to re-configure themselves into a more sane, more fun existence.


  6. I’m a huge Denver Broncos fan but have never really gotten into college football. Probably because I attended a commuter school and don’t have any strong affinity for my university.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. My second favorite sports show after Pardon The Interruption is ESPN College GameDay that I faithfully watch every fall. I’ve been a Notre Dame and Big Ten fan since the late 70s and while I’ve never liked the changes they’ve made to the bowl games or the conferences, it is impossible for me to give up my love of watching college football. I probably enjoy Rivalry Week in November more than the Super Bowl. Money and TV has taken over all the sports, but thankfully for me they haven’t taken away what is special about sports.🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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