December 04, 2023

Realignment makes my head hurt

It’s all about money, football and not success

The last time college football went through a major conference realignment, it made my head hurt. It was hard to keep up.

And now we are at it again.

I know this isn’t just a football move. But it really is, isn’t it?

No one cares about the tennis team at Georgia? Can you name a player on the Clemson softball team? How about that standout on the Arizona track and field team?

These moves are all about football and the money every major conference team gets in the TV contracts.

The latest conference to fall apart is the Pac-12. After the Big Ten took USC and UCLA last year, they swooped in and grabbed Oregon and Washington in the past week.

That came after the Big 12 Conference added Colorado, Arizona, Arizona State and Utah a bit earlier.

With just four programs left, including one of the best athletic schools in the country in Stanford, the Pac-12 likely will crumble.

It wasn’t long ago many thought the Big 12 would come crashing down, too. They recovered and added four schools after Texas and Oklahoma bolted for the SEC.

The Big 12 is zigging, while everyone else is zagging. It’s building the biggest basketball brand in the country with the additions of Arizona and Houston.

The league doesn’t really have a blue blood when it comes to football. But it will survive, while the Pac-12 and potentially the ACC won’t.

The latest rumors are that Clemson and Florida State may be leaving the ACC for “greener pastures.”

Where will Stanford, California, Oregon State and Washington State go?

Stanford has won the Director’s Cup 26 times since 1994-95. The Cardinal’s athletic success through all programs nationally is well-documented.

None of that matters because winning is no longer the most important thing.

The Big Ten now has the Los Angeles and California TV markets with USC and UCLA. It doesn’t need Stanford or California, but those two schools, in my opinion, fit best in that league.

If they add Stanford and California, that would give the Big Ten 20 teams. And you can almost certainly expect the Cy-Hawk football game to go away.

There’s no way they can play that game annually if the Big Ten requires 10 conference games.

Iowa needs seven annual home football games to maintain its status as a self-sufficient athletic program. It would have only two games to play with after you take away the 10 league games.

That likely means the Hawkeyes would play five home games and five away games each year.

That also means both non-conference games will have to be home dates. So unless Iowa State wants to come to Kinnick every year, it would have to go away.

Iowa State could be in a similar situation with their now-larger league, too.

Oregon State and Washington State don’t appear to have a seat at the table. The Big Ten definitely doesn’t need those TV markets with the addition of the other instate schools.

What does that mean for the Apple Cup played between Washington and Washington State? Will the rivalry game formerly known as the “Civil War” between Oregon and Oregon State still exist?

Oregon State is preseason ranked 18th but doesn’t have a seat at the table of a major conference yet.

So it’s not about success. It’s about eyeballs.

And what about the other sports? How are we supposed to tell family and friends of athletes in those sports that they have to travel from the East Coast to the West Coast for a game on a random Tuesday night?

That’s asking a lot from those folks and you’re basically telling them you don’t care if they attend the games or not.

That’s not a message I want to be a part of. But all that money these schools are making is not coming to me either.

We’re all hypocrites though. As much as I don’t like any of this, I will still be glued to my TV (or inside Kinnick Stadium) when Iowa football kicks off its season against Utah State on Sept. 2.

That’s what makes all of this possible. Because no matter what happens, football remains King.

Contact Troy Hyde at