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Conference Realignment Spells Doom for Future of College Athletics

It's about to be a wild next couple of months in the world of college athletics.

Money means everything to those in the business world. Unfortunately, the business world is completely taking over college athletics thus ruining the pageantry of it all with the NIL deals, massive TV/streaming deals, and now, conference realignment. 

I'm all for student-athletes profiting off of their name, image, and likeness, but the NCAA has done a terrible job of policing it (I know, shocker) and it has led to tampering and accusations of schools "buying" recruits. 

If you're not a fan of that, then you probably can't stand the thought of the direction college athletics is heading in. A year ago, Texas and Oklahoma shocked everyone around the country when word got out that they would be leaving the Big 12 for the SEC. Many questioned the move for both schools as it would make it a much more challenging path to the College Football Playoff. At the end of the day, it's all about money and the SEC makes more than anyone out there. They saw it as an opportunity to create more revenue which can then help them stay up to date with state of the art facilities and offer certain things that other schools can't.

The same thing is happening with conference realignment. No one involved cares that USC and UCLA will travel across the country to play its new "rivals" in the Big Ten. It was a money move, similar to the one Oklahoma and Texas made. The PAC 12 is widely viewed as the weakest conference in the two major sports (football & basketball) and sits behind the SEC, Big Ten, and Big 12 in revenue. 

The only thing that those who are making these decisions are worried about is money. They don't care about storied rivalries that may disintegrate. The problem is, they're not thinking about how this will affect each conference long-term. If these conferences get so spread out to the point where it feels diluted of its regional rivalries, the passion for college athletics will begin to wear. 

Just ask West Virginia fans, for example. It's been 10 years since the Mountaineers joined the Big 12 Conference and playing nine other schools that you had little to no prior history with takes away some of the excitement. Not only does it impact the fans but also the schools as well by spending more money on travel.

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Nothing about widespread conference realignment makes any sense. I mean, even the professional sports keep it regional. You don't see a division made up of the Yankees, Dodgers, Cardinals, Astros, and Braves in MLB or the Steelers, Buccaneers, Seahawks, and Chiefs in the NFL. Those regional matchups hold a lot of weight. It doesn't have to be this difficult, but for whatever reason it's the path we appear to be headed toward.

Instead of this mess that's about to take place, the problem that should be addressed is getting schools like West Virginia in a conference that makes geographical sense and creates easier road trips for fans. After that problem is fixed, then the focus should turn to separating the Power Five and Group of Five so that every school has the chance to compete for a national championship in its respective level. 

What really stings is that nothing can be done to stop realignment. Schools have the right to do as they choose, just like each conference. The NCAA can't step in and say "no" to conferences expanding and since they can't, it's going to get out of hand in a hurry. Conferences are going to be in a race to get to 20 teams and certain schools will be begging and pleading to not be left behind in a conference that holds no weight. 

The future of college athletics will look vastly different from what we've always known it to be. We can only hope that down the road decision makers realize how much it is hurting the overall landscape and it reverts to what we deem as "normal".

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