Thursday, June 10, 2010

Big Ten expansion from the perspective of this Purdue fan

Here were the two things that I was most concerned with as it came down to what appears to be a now inevitable realignment of the conferences in college athletics.
First, I was worried that Purdue fans' interests would not be met. Expansion is great for the big teams of the conference, the Michigans and Ohio States of the world, because they are contenders every year, and their schedule got tougher and more exciting if they suddenly add a school like Nebraska every once in a while. Additionally, they are near each other geographically, so any divisional split, they are going to stay together and continue playing each other every year. Purdue is, admittedly, an also ran. They have had one really good run in the past 50 years, and were awful before that and aren't very good now. They needed things to break right to be at the top of the conference before, and with more elite programs possibly joining the fold, that will be much more difficult to do. The only thing that we will have going for us will be our annual game against Indiana. Of course, if the expansion is heavy on the east side of the conference, especially, say two from the Big East and Notre Dame, plus Nebraska and Missouri, then the conference will almost certainly be split through Indiana, putting Purdue in the west, and Indiana in the east, or vice versa. If this happens, we will have a non competitive team playing against teams we could care less about. It would be disheartening.
The other thing I worry about is the stability of the NCAA. There was speculation that a rise in "super conferences" would spell doom for the NCAA, as the components would be more powerful than the whole. This would be a possibility if the schools in the power conferences didn't want to share their post season earnings with the smaller schools as they do now. I like small college games, because I can enjoy the game for it's own sake, and anything they accomplishment, like a trip to the Liberty Bowl or something, is enjoyed by the student body. More than that, I wondered and worried what the change in conference alignment might mean for the NCAA basketball tournament. I like college basketball much more than football, believe it or not, and I would hate for the best sporting championship in the States to be destroyed because of a completely different sport.
As luck would have it, things have been developing so it's more palatable for Purdue. If Nebraska is the choice at the exclusion of all other teams, then the divisions will line up so that Indiana and Purdue, the only conference football rival either truly cares about, will remain in the same division. Additionally, the Pac 10 sounds like their merger would almost be an association than anything. They want two BCS berths in lieu of a championship game, so its almost as though the deal is only for TV (and for Arizona to play Texas or some such). As a result, it's the original Pac 8 and the new 8. If they divide their power, then perhaps the NCAA will be saved.
Here's hoping.

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