The newest wave of college conference realignment has hit in full force, and everything you thought you knew about college sports no longer applies. Oregon and Washington are now in the Big Ten. Arizona has been accepted to the Big 12, and Utah and Arizona State are poised to join them.
All of this follows USC and UCLA going to the Big Ten a year ago, and Texas and Oklahoma jumping to the SEC. Meanwhile, Florida State is looking for private equity money to stay competitive in the changing landscape of college sports. It’s all completely ridiculous, with TV money winning out over the regional rivalries that make up the soul of college athletics.
If you’re still feeling a little confused on how everything is shaking out, here’s a helpful map from ESPN’s Field Yates on the new Big Ten. It shows just how outrageous this conference conference is now.
Ah yes, nothing says the Big Ten like a Rutgers vs. Washington game. You can make the drive from Piscataway, NJ to Seattle in a little more than 42 hours! Just under 3,srcsrcsrc miles separate the campuses.
This wave of conference realignment dismisses the fans and the athletes in favor of big money TV deals going to the top of these universities. Now we’re left with two super conferences, the Big Ten and the SEC, vying for the biggest pieces of the college sports pie, while smaller conferences pick up the crumbs.
It’s easy to wonder about what happens to sports that don’t produce as much revenue as football. How will softball — the Pac-12 had such a rich history in softball — be affected? What happens to swimming and wrestling? How will women’s sports be impacted? This wave of conference realignment creates way, way more questions than it answers.
The players will want to compete, and the fans will still tune-in. That’s all that matters for the people cashing the checks. It feels like most things in modern society are so much worse than they used to be in the recent past. Add college sports to the list. The problem isn’t players making money via the NIL — it’s the suits who are ruining everything about college sports.