BIG EAST HYPOCRISY

Slate‘s Sam Eifling has a good piece on the eminent defection of Miami, Syracuse, and Boston College from the Big East to the ACC.

Even though Miami entered the league as a mercenary ringer, and is poised to leave as such, fans of the jilted schools moan that their beloved Big East is being pulled apart by the lure of the superconferences: namely, the Big 12 and SEC, each of which boasts at least a dozen members and hosts a lucrative championship game. If Miami and company are allowed to bolt, the thinking goes, college football will one day consist only of a few vaguely regional superconferences that steamroll tradition in favor of made-for-TV mega-matchups. Skeptics may be right about that result, but their purity argument is quaint bunk. For one thing, teams have shifted conferences for decades when priorities or economics changed. If we really want to see the conferences in their virgin states, let’s return Sewanee to the SEC and the University of Chicago to the Big Ten.

Moreover, Big East fans forfeited any right to whine about superconferences the moment their league added Miami, a school 900 miles from its nearest conference rival. The Big East already is a nigh-superconference, with two divisions, 15 members, midterm-busting travel distances, and some of the most powerful schools in college sports—all it’s missing is balanced football. For too long, the conference has been basking in Miami’s cachet; Miami, in turn, has been glad to gorge itself on wins over Rutgers and Temple.

Frankly, as long as college football remains predominantly a big-money, semi-pro television extravaganza, it’s hard to fault schools for chasing the dollar signs. Since a return to the mythical days of scholar athletes is unlikely to happen any time soon in football or basketball, having a few superconferences emerge and watching the sanctimonious NCAA collapse would be fine by me.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.