23 October 2011

NCAA: What It Was, What Its Becoming

An objective look, intertwined with personal opinion
by Mizzou Matt 10/23/11
The NCAA. The National Collegiate Athletics Association. At one point, it was fun and entertaining. The rivalries were what made college sports the thing to watch. Playing for pride is what set it apart from the professional sports. The more the dollar signs are passed around, the more pro-like it becomes, especially when you bring up the subject of paying the athletes and conference realignment.

That's right, this ain't your daddy's NCAA anymore. The college landscape is changing, there is no denying that. It started back in the 90s, when the Southwest Athletics Conference (SWAC) merged with the Big 8, and the Big Ten tried adding Penn State and Notre Dame (PSU joined, ND did not). It's been slowly changing since then with the formation of the Bowl Championship Series, better known as the BCS. Teams vying for a spot in the BCS standings usually get the most payout from the bowl games, but only six conferences have automatic BCS berths- Atlantic Coast Conference, Big East, Big 12, Big Ten, Southeastern Conference, and the Pacific Athletic Conference.

The conference realignments of the last couple years have reshaped the traditional Big Six conferences. No longer are teams geographically correct to the conference of which they belong. The PAC-10 added Colorado, a former Big 12 school. The Big East accepted Texas Christian, formerly of the Mountain West, located in Fort Worth, TX. This year, the SEC has added Texas A&M, located in College Station, TX, and are looking to possibly add another.

The Big 12, after losing CU and Nebraska look to add a couple teams of their own. TCU was enticed away from the Big East, and with Syracuse and Pittsburgh looking to leave, the Big East will likely be consumed by another conference. Initial reports are that Conference USA and the Mountain West are working on a deal to merge and possibly include the Big East. The other schools that the Big 12 are looking to are to try and get their hands on is to first try and retain Big 12 charter member Missouri. If Missouri were to leave, West Virginia, Louisville and Cincinnati would likely be courted to fill the void made by the Tigers.

Conference realignment really only means one thing: schools no longer care about tradition or rivalries and only care about money. The Big Ten and the SEC are the two top payouts among the BCS conferences. Nebraska broke off rivalries with Missouri, Texas and Oklahoma to join the Big Ten. Texas A&M broke off their rivalry with Texas to join the SEC. With Missouri eyeballing a possible move to the SEC, they would be breaking off current rivalries with Kansas, Iowa State, Oklahoma, as well as losing a developing rivalry with Kansas State.

"But they're only rivalries, we can start new ones," is what a few pro-SEC fans have talked about. Mizzou athletic director Mike Alden has said that he would like to continue the 119 year rivalry with Kansas, should the Tigers depart the Big 12. Kansas basketball coach Bill Self has said that if Missouri leaves, he has no desire to continue the rivalry. Reality is, not one of our current rivalries would be interested in continuing. We'd be starting from scratch in the rivalries department, as well as having to rebuild our entire athletic program. The loss against Oklahoma State could possibly be a preview of years to come if we made the move to the SEC. The key word in there is POSSIBLY. Let's face it, the SEC has LSU, Alabama, Auburn, Florida- winners of five of the last six national championships. If Missouri were to leave, reports say we'd likely join the east division, joining the likes of Georgia, South Carolina and Florida. I'm a diehard Mizzou fan, and it pains me to think this way, but this is just my personal opinion- if Mizzou were to go to the SEC, I think we could all expect 4-8, 5-7 and 6-6 seasons at best for at least the first five years. The only "guaranteed" wins would be non-conference opponents in the first three games of the year, followed up by wins over Vanderbilt, Ole Miss and Tennessee, possibly Mississippi State.

Other topics that need to be looked at are recruiting and income. While schools looking to move eyeball the dollar signs from the new conferences, that extra money would pretty much already be spent by traveling to outlying schools that are far removed from the rest of the conference. An example of this is the Big East considering adding Boise State.

The latter topic is recruiting, which Missouri has a strong base already formed in Texas. If the Tigers were to exit the Big 12 in favor of the SEC, our recruiting starts all over again, but this time we'd be competing with LSU, Alabama, Auburn and Florida...in more than just the "big money" sports of football and basketball. We'd be competing with them in soccer, baseball, softball and overall enrollment in general. As it stands right now, Missouri is the fastest growing university among the Association of American Universities, with an enrollment increase of 32% since 2002. With a move brings a period of instability, which would likely have an effect on overall enrollment. (source: http://munews.missouri.edu/news-releases/2011/1018-mu-undergraduate-enrollment-fastest-growing-in-aau/)

It doesn't matter if you're for or against a move, you should be emailing the Board of Curators at boardofcurators@umsystem.edu, getting your voice heard one way or the other.

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