Kirk Herbstreit complaining that Texas and Oklahoma joining the SEC is ruinous to college athletics — “It’s all about money. It’s no longer about tradition” — is a very special kind of willful ignorance.
The tradition is money. Maybe it’s more so now because schools are worried about the direction college sports is heading, where student-athletes might only be somewhat exploited instead of fully exploited, but if it was really about tradition over money, Missouri wouldn’t be in the SEC, Nebraska wouldn’t be in the Big Ten, West Virginia wouldn’t be in the Big 12, and Syracuse and Rutgers would be in a conference based in the Northeast, a “Big East,” if you will, instead being the New York television tentpoles of the ACC and Big Ten.
So why is Herbstreit at all surprised or put off by more of the same?
Right now, I think it’s about money and keeping up with the Joneses and right now, Texas and OU, they’re looking over in the horizon to the east and they’re seeing that SEC and all that money, and they’re saying we can’t be left behind. We want to go into that neighborhood, and we want to join that group of teams, and that’s basically why we are where we are. And what this will do as far as the future, you know, if you and I are sitting here three years from now or five years from now, talking about college athletics, I have literally no idea where we are headed, but I feel like these are two big dominoes that are falling.
The dominoes fell a long time ago on conference realignment — what’s happening now are recalibrations from buyer’s remorse. If you want to say it could soon lead to the SEC being 32 teams, well, would even that be a surprise? And the willful ignorance mentioned earlier certainly comes into play when you go on the network of the “superconference” you are bemoaning and fawn over the potential schedule with a “Holy cow!”
Acting like this is a new development now is like seeing Jeff Bezos’ fugazi space flight in an enormous phallus, and that being the moment you finally think, “Gee, that guy should maybe pay some taxes.”