Will the Borg Ten, SuperPac, and Other Mutant Conferences Kill the NCAA?

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Yes, Patrick, we are absolutely headed for a brave new world, albeit one where everyone gets paid except the players. It could be a good thing, depending on the resolution of the student-athlete myth, hopefully in the next couple decades. But no, I am not entertained. And most of you won't be either.

The joy of college sports as compared to pro sports is the irrational, diehard, kid-naming, tree-poisoning passion that players, alumni, and fans have for their programs. In the pros, we're just rooting for laundry, but those of us who went to an athletically competitive school in college are rooting for something far more profound when we tailgate on Saturdays and follow our team to March Madness games (except, of course, my alma mater). An integral part of that experience is the rivalries cultivated with nearby schools over years, decades, or even a century of competition. It's why you'll never hear the Michigan Wolverines mentioned by name in Columbus, Ohio, or see Hampton sporting a Missouri Tigers shirt.

Some of these rivalries have already become casualties of realignment. Texas-Texas A&M, Kansas-Missouri, Nebraska-Oklahoma, UConn-Syracuse in basketball... the list could go on for paragraphs. While a college sports landscape of four super-conferences would move us closer to a meritocracy in football, it would result in schedules being almost unrecognizable from one year to the next. Even an in-conference rivalry like USC-UCLA in the new SuperPac conference (thank Hampton for the insightful moniker) could become a biennial event or worse.

I think the larger question of super-conferences boils down to what the point of college athletics is. If the long-term goal is to give student-athletes appropriate compensation in some form and create a true market unburdened by the NCAA's cartel-like ways, then super-conferences may be the way go. But if that's the goal, why exactly should we have college sports at all? Isn't it just a younger version of professional leagues, an anachronism that pre-supposes the college experience should include young athletes? Shouldn't we just have real minor leagues/development leagues instead?

If you're like me, if the point of college sports at all is to instill a sense of camaraderie among a group of players, alumni, and other fans through competition and tradition, then realignment sucks. Plain and simple. I get that the NCAA is corrupt and farcical, Patrick, but give me a good old-fashioned rivalry over homogenized super-conferences any day. Plus, it doesn't really matter how we realign in football—the SEC (Super-Elite Conference?) will still find a way to win every year.

–Jake

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Sports Roundtable

Patrick Hruby, Jake Simpson, and Hampton Stevens 

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