A conversation about conference realignment with ... Hugh Hefner
News just broke that Louisville will leave the Big East to become a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference until it leaves for another conference. We're just as confused as you are. But nobody said college would be simple.
To clear up matters,
Q. Nice to meet you, Hugh. No need to shake hands. Let's get started with the latest news. Maryland bolted its longtime home, the Atlantic Coast Conference, for the Big Ten. The ACC responded by swiping Louisville from the Big East. Why doesn't anybody show respect for history, rivalries, relationships or their neighbors?
A. You make it sound so dirty. I like that.
Hey, Louisville was feeling frisky. This is nothing new. In the last 20 years, Louisville has gone to bed in the Metro Conference, Conference USA, the Big East and now the ACC. Louisville also romanced its rival's longtime love, Rick Pitino, and made my good friend Bobby Petrino a star. Is anybody else tingling right now? I know I am.
As for Maryland, that school has been around in some form or another since 1856. After 156 years, you get antsy. I know I got antsy when I turned 156.
Q. It just seems like everybody is willing to sleep with everybody else for money or a cheap thrill.
A. I'm sorry -- was I supposed to dispute that?
Q. What about Pitino's recent proclamations that the Big East was as strong as ever?
A. Did he say that? I don't remember. Anyway, Rick is a proud member of the ACC now, along with Mike Krzyzewski and Roy Williams. Three Hall of Famers! How cool is that?
Q. Those three also make something like $11 million a year combined. And what about the student-athletes?
A. They're quite attractive.
Q. No, I mean: What happens to them? Why can't they get a little extra money on the side if somebody wants to give it to them?
A. I'm always in favor of a little on the side. But in this case, our schools can't afford to share money with players because they need all the money they can get.
Q. Why do schools need more money?
A. To build facilities.
Q. Why do they need facilities?
A. So they can win.
Q. Why do they need to win?
A. So they can bring in more money.
Q. You're giving me a headache, and speaking of the Big East: What on earth is going on there? SMU? San Diego State? Central Florida? Memphis? East Carolina? Are the divisions really going to be called the Big East East and the Big East West? Why don't they just call it the Big Conference and leave it at that? Now the Big East is adding Tulane. Why would anybody want Tulane? Tulane has not won anything, ever.
A. Have you been to New Orleans? I'd say Tulane athletes are winning.
Q. What about the Big Ten? The conference is so very proud of its virtuous self that it named its divisions Legends and Leaders. But the league whisked Nebraska away from the Big 12 and Rutgers away from the Big East, and it carried Maryland out of the ACC on its shoulders, with no warning whatsoever.
A. Fake Midwestern purity is so hot, isn't it? Every time I think of Northwestern taking its glasses off and trying to beat an SEC team in a bowl game, I get ... uh, excited. But it always ends awkwardly and prematurely. Anyway, you tell Jim Delany I can get him a great deal on my old Playboy Mansion in Chicago. You know, in case he wants to go have a private night with Georgia Tech.
Q. Delany is a North Carolina grad. Will he try to poach his alma mater?
A. You never forget your first love.
Q. What ever happened to rivalries? Maryland always hated Duke. Missouri always hated Kansas. Texas A&M always hated Texas. Colorado always hated Nebraska. Nebraska always hated Oklahoma. Syracuse always hated Georgetown. This is what made college sports so much fun.
A. We don't believe in hate. We believe in love. And money. And loving money. And anyway, if those folks want to get together once a year and say naughty things to each other, that sounds good to me.
Q. What about basketball?
A. Do we play basketball?
Q. Yes. You have been playing basketball for more than 100 years.
A. Sorry, I've been busy.
Q. Regular-season basketball championships used to mean something. What is the point of the regular season anymore? In a 14- or 16-team league, anything close to balanced scheduling is impossible. Maryland-Nebraska and Rutgers-Iowa will never feel like conference games. We're just going to have a bunch of people from random places wrestling each other to the ground for no rhyme or reason.
A. Keep talking, baby.
Q. This is all about television money, isn't it?
A. What are you, an infant? Of course! Most of life in this country is about television and money. We're just bringing the two together. You're welcome.
Q. Are there any other changes on the horizon?
A. A few. Kentucky recently announced that it plans to start playing football, though nobody can figure out why, or how. Also, Nike has designed new uniforms for chancellors and presidents. They are the most lightweight and breathable uniforms in history. Yup: They're all going to be naked. This is fitting, don't you think?