Wednesday, September 01, 2010

It's An Outrage

The new division format for the Big Ten (now up to 12 teams) was announced today. As per usual in college football these days, the almighty dollar has prevailed.

You see, in order to secure more money for itself, the Big Ten TV network has ensured not only that it will have a Big Ten championship game to broadcast, but that there will be a chance that there could be a second OSU-Michigan game.

You see, OSU and Michigan will be placed in separate divisions, and, although they will still meet in the last regular season game, there is also a chance that they could meet in the championship game that follows.

The thinking behind this, of course, is that since the rivalry between UM and OSU has been voted as the greatest rivalry in college football, and that the ratings for their annual game are always spectacular (ABC broadcasts it every year nationwide), then what could bring in more money other than a second meeting between the two?

Of course, the "thinking" behind this is flawed. The last few years notwithstanding, "the game" has often decided the Big Ten champion. It's been the source of thousands of bets, monetary or otherwise. It was the showcase for one of the most storied rivalries in college football, one that one can be described to any fan using only 3 words: Woody versus Bo. It's a rivalry that really brought college sports into the limelight as a valuable source of income for many schools.

But that has really become the problem. College football has steadily become less and less about getting kids the education they need and more and more about making money hand over fist. It is money that is the reason College football sticks with a bowl system that grows more ridiculous every year (there is now about one bowl for every 3 division 1A teams) and rarely leaves anyone happy with the result (By my count, the Bowl Championship series has worked exactly once--when undefeated OSU played undefeated Miami in 2003). And it is money that is the reason the Big Ten is setting up a system wherein OSU and UM could meet twice within the span of 3 weeks or less.

I realize that it is hard for any university to have a profitable football program. The costs associated with fielding a football team every week of the season are astronomical even for the largest schools. And every dollar that the schools must pump into athletic scholarships deprives them of one less dollar to provide scholarships for non-athletes who may be far more deserving of it.

But allowing money considerations to diminish the greatest rivalry in college football history, a rivalry that has included such legendary names as Howard Cassidy, Archie Griffin, Art Schlichter, Rex Kern, Desmond Howard, Deion Sanders, and Eddie George, just to name a few, is an outrage and an insult to the millions of fans (myself included) who voted that same rivalry the greatest one in college football.

If colleges were serious about keeping their costs down, they would demand that the NFL fund the scholarships for all Division 1A players. It is only fair, considering that the NCAA football system is really nothing more than a free minor league system for the NFL. Not only would this help them keep costs down, it would also help more students attend college.

Which would help everyone.

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