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Once Texas A&M joins the SEC, everything changes in college football

They like to tell you that college football is about tradition. It is not. It is about money.

They like to tell you that college football is about rivalries. It is not. It is about greed.

They like to tell you that college football is about integrity. It is not. It is about stupidity.

And here we find the sport once again, standing in line at the ATM, waiting once again to sell its soul for a few dollars more. This time, it is Texas A&M that is ready to run a down-and-out from a league it helped to found so it can play in a more attractive tree house. As soon as the lawyers are happy, the Aggies are going to join the Southeastern Conference where, presumably, they may one day play West Virginia for the league title. Rah.

This is insanity. This is chaos. This is a sport that seems intent on devouring itself.

The scary part? This is just the beginning.

Oklahoma in the Pac-12?

Missouri in the SEC?

Syracuse in the Big Ten?

Kansas in the Big East?

Stay tuned.

Soon enough, you will be able to hear You've Got to Be a Football Hero played by cash register bells. The future of college sports is to try to squeeze as many teams as possible into glutted, supersized conferences that get supersized TV packages and collect supersized bowl revenues.

This is not about geography, and it is not about history, and it is not about scoreboards. It is not about satisfying its fans. It is about money.

In the meantime, we have lost Oklahoma-Nebraska.

Soon, we may lose Oklahoma-Texas.

Oh, we still get to see a national championship game because of the tradition of the bowl games. All together now: Huh?

The problem here, of course, is not that one fairly meaningless program has bolted from a fairly meaningless conference to escape the considerable shadow of the University of Texas. To be honest, I didn't spend a lot of time thinking about Colorado before it went the Pac-12, and I haven't spent a lot of time thinking about it since.

Same with A&M. Frankly, most of us are only now getting used to seeing Arkansas and South Carolina in the league standings. I hardly think Tennessee fans are high-fiving each other over the thought of playing the Aggies.

The problem is A&M is like a cornerstone piece in the college football version of Jenga. From here, everything changes. There is not a league, not a program, that won't feel the ripple.

With every move, college football gets closer to a future of four, maybe five 16-team Super Conferences that may decide to break away from the NCAA. The big guys, it seems, are weary of sharing gate receipts with the little guys.

And here we go:

The SEC: It is bigger today, and it will get bigger still. It will add a 14th, maybe a 15th and a 16th.

No, no. This won't be as simple as sending an invitation to whatever ACC team the SEC decides its wants, the way some fans seem to think. Already, you can hear SEC fans debate whether FSU or Clemson or Virginia Tech would be the best fit.

Not so fast. It isn't likely to happen. For FSU, a national championship is just as possible, perhaps more so, playing in the ACC as the SEC.

If I ran the SEC, I'd aim at the biggest paydays out there. Oklahoma would have to tell me no. Texas, too. (Can you imagine the reaction of Texas A&M fans if they found out Texas was coming, too?)

More likely? How about West Virginia? How about Missouri? And since no one in college football ever took a course in geography, how about Boise State? Yeah, that would drive Georgia fans crazy.

The Pac 12: Already, there are those who believe that Oklahoma is on its way, perhaps because of all of the beaches near Norman. And if Oklahoma jumps, Oklahoma State seems prepared to go along.

Then there is Texas, which may have the next big decision in the game. If Texas (and Oklahoma) stick around, the Big 12 can try to survive by replacing A&M with BYU. But if Texas goes (and takes Texas Tech along with it), the Big 12 is the Lusitania.

The Big Ten: Gee, another chance to get rejected by Notre Dame. What fun.

Actually, when you consider the changing face of college football, Notre Dame might be tempted to join a conference this time, but only if it gets to keep its own network.

More likely, the Big Ten (which has 12 teams) will consider Missouri, Syracuse and Pitt.

The Big East: Earlier this week, the New York Post reported that the Big East was prepared to expand to Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri, which are all eastern teams compared to, say, Hawaii.

That would give the league a 20-team basketball league, which is too many. It would also allow for a Western Division of the Big East with TCU and perhaps Cincinnati and Louisville.

For the Big East, however, the bigger issue may be to hang onto its own. Already, West Virginia has been linked to the SEC, and Syracuse and UConn to the ACC, and Pitt, Rutgers and Syracuse to the Big Ten. It is going to be interesting to see just what this conference looks like when it's done. There are even those who have suggested a merger with the ACC, but then you are really talking about a lot of basketball teams.

(Not to alarm anyone, but CBSSports.com did a projection on Super Conferences. It suggested that USF would be demoted back to Conference USA. That would be a whole new level of stupidity, of course. Even with expanded conferences, no one else is talking about throwing teams out.)

Overnight, college football has become a giant game of Risk. It is all about obtaining new territories. And if a few traditions tumble, if a few conferences are destroyed, so be it.

Here's the question, though: Does anyone, anywhere think college football has gotten better now that A&M has a chance to build a rivalry with Vandy? Of course not.

Just asking, but shouldn't that bother someone?

Once Texas A&M joins the SEC, everything changes in college football 09/07/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 7, 2011 11:34pm]

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