Let’s make one big college football super conference of evil


UCLA and USC joined the Big Ten last week. This is good news for those of us who cherish the right to make tired jokes about geographical and numerical inconsistencies. But it’s lousy news for the Pac-12, which now finds itself without one of its cornerstone football programs in USC, which just poached its way back into relevance by snatching Lincoln Riley away from Oklahoma. Also, they lost UCLA. According to Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports, they may lose six more teams to the Big 12, and essentially no longer exist, before long.

Just over a decade ago, the Pac-12 was on the verge of welcoming Texas into the fold, a coup that would have put it alongside the SEC as a power conference among power conferences. Instead, Texas pulled half a Notre Dame and stayed in the Big 12 (more counting jokes for your arsenal) while booting up a cable network of their own. Some say the Longhorn Network was the MTV of my children’s generation. It’s true. Alas, that network is likely to die three years from now when UT, alongside Oklahoma, moves to the SEC. That’s right: We’re in the midst of yet another realignment binge in college football, wherein you scream STOP THESE CONFERENCES I WANNA GET OFF! and ask the person next to you when exactly, did Syracuse joined the Big Mid-American 14. Much pearl clutching will ensue, because no sport enjoys playing Remember When more than college football does. 

In reality, as Spencer Hall noted after USC and UCLA did their dirty sinful business a week ago, all of this is quite easy to parse. Fox owns the rights to Big Ten football. ESPN will own the rights to SEC football outright two years from now. This is not conference realignment. It’s just TV scheduling. The result of all this will be a Power Two instead of a Power Five, because consolidation of power is something we all know and love. If we’re lucky, one day we’ll get just ONE college football conference. With 32 teams. And eight divisions. And a championship game that I’ll call — and hear me out on this — THE SUPER GAME. It could happen. It likely will happen. Money is forever undefeated.

The question is … which schools deserve to be in this future Football Championship Subdivision I-A Brought To You By Diet Dr. Pepper? I’m glad I pretended you asked, because I’m deciding that right now. In this column. Network executives and boosters in 10-gallons hats are all but certain to follow my lead. Let’s get cuttin’!

The Pac-12

Arizona: I remember that one time when Arizona football was Sports Illustrated’s preseason No. 1. That was in 1994. Remember the Desert Swarm defense? Anyway, that team lost to Utah in the Freedom Bowl. NO.

Arizona State: The University of Phoenix is a realer school than Arizona State. NO.

Cal: My editor Grant Marek went to Cal. If you see a YES in this slot, it’s because he made me put it there. NO.

UCLA: If they had stuck with the Clarendon font for their jersey numbers, I would have said yes. They didn’t. NO.

Colorado: I have a pathetic desire to see great programs of the ’90s, like Colorado, rise back into prominence. But that need has compelled me to tune into present day Colorado games expecting to see Darian Hagan handing the ball off to Eric Bieniemy. Instead, I’m watching a 56-2 Freedom Bowl loss. NO.

Oregon: As of right now, Oregon may join a half-dozen potential Pac-12 refugees in the Big 12, which somehow feels like a downgrade. Phil Knight will tolerate the idea for roughly six seconds. YES.

Oregon State: Their uniforms look like something I drew on a KoalaPad. NO. 

USC: A year ago I would have said “lol no,” but USC still manages to get its s—t together once every two decades. YES.

Stanford: I think Cal and Stanford should form their own mini-conference and play each other 10 times a season. Whichever school wins that conference has to adopt the other’s political leanings. NO.

Utah: Recent history has proven that if you underestimate Utah football, they’ll give your favorite team a salt lake enema. I fear them. Also, this gives me an excuse to leave BYU out. YES.

Washington: Here again we find reality dealing a crushing blow to boilerplate ’90s nostalgia. NO.

Washington State: Located in the North Dakota of Washington, I think we’d all be better off never having to worry about Wazzu ever again. NO.


Boston College: New England is to college football what New England also is to Mexican food, so NO.

Clemson: There’s a nonzero chance that Dabo Swinney’s modern “PTL Club” routine is about to come to a cruel but deserved end now that his quarterback room isn’t larded with future All Pros and massage stalkers. So YES, but they better watch their s—t.

Duke: You might be saying, “Drew, you have to include some of the basketball schools in here.” No I don’t. NO.

Florida State: Could not bring me more pleasure to leave them out of this. Too bad that dadgum Bobby Bowden is still dead! NO.

Georgia Tech: They don’t run the triple option offense anymore, and therefore can go directly to hell, which is conveniently located IN Georgia itself. NO.

Louisville: Louisville bought its way into modern college sports relevance thanks to the Yum! Brands portfolio of restaurants that serve repurposed hobo meat, along with the school’s penchant for taking background checks on any head coach it wants and stuffing them into the deep fryer. But I have to draw a line somewhere, preferably across Papa John’s face while he’s passed out drunk. NO.

Miami: You might say that Miami, like Colorado and Washington, hasn’t been relevant in decades. But you’re forgetting about how cool the turnover chain was before every other loser school copied it. YES.

UNC: The fun decision here is yes, strictly to make Duke angry. But UNC football blows and only produces quarterbacks that get drafted too high, so NO.

NC State: NC State has existed as high grade conference fodder for my entire lifetime. Their most important contribution to college football was Philip Rivers and his 68 children. NO.

Pittsburgh: I have too much Pittsburgh in my professional football already, thank you very much. NO.

Syracuse: Did you know these guys still play in the Carrier Dome? From the Cuse website: “The Carrier Dome, America’s most famous and largest structure of its kind on a college campus, is a facility that generates media exposure and adds glamour that attracts some of the nation’s most talented student-athletes to Syracuse University.” Ah yes, that Carrier Dome glamour. Can’t find that in Utica! NO.

Virginia: I visited Charlottesville once, thinking I’d come upon one of the loveliest college towns in America. What I found was an Anthropologie and two average ice cream emporiums. Needs a Carrier Dome. NO.

Virginia Tech: Virginia Tech is the kind of program that only stays relevant as long as its head coach stays in place. Frank Beamer did not. NO.

Wake Forest: Turn on ESPN7 at noon on an autumn Saturday and they’ll be there. None of that will change when I say NO to them here. 

Notre Dame, kinda: The worst. The most preening, s—theaded football school in America. So stupid they don’t even know they’re irrelevant when they have been for the entirety of this century. Horrible place. Dumpy people. I hate them. Ugh. YES.


Alabama: You just saw me include Notre Dame in here even though I’d rather eat my weight in mayonnaise than see them be happy. Same deal for Bama, except that they’re actually good. YES.

Arkansas: Like the state itself, I struggle to see the point in Arkansas at all. It’s like an outlet mall version of Louisiana, and even that’s way too kind of a description for it. NO.

Auburn: If you’re an Auburn fan, you scrolled down to his entry right away to make sure I didn’t leave your sorry asses out. I won’t. I know better than to jeopardize the safety of my family. YES.

Florida: There’s no excuse for Florida to suck as badly as they have since Urban Meyer left. And we know now that Urban wasn’t even very good at the actual coaching of football. I can’t believe I have to say yes to these assholes. YES. 

Georgia: They just won the national title by copying Alabama’s methods in every respect. Do we really need TWO Bamas? Well, to keep the original from winning it all every goddamn year, it appears the answer is YES.

Kentucky: Their glory days were back when Hal Mumme was coach, so NO.

LSU: Neck-and-neck with Baylor for the title of Most Evil Collegiate Athletic Program. Hired Brian Kelly away from Notre Dame — for $100 million! — to put themselves over the top. I wanna say you have to respect it, but you don’t. You really don’t. They’re scum. YES.

Ole Miss: You might think I’d let every SEC school into this little rodeo, but you’d be mistaken. Let’s see how the state of Mississippi handles banishment as an alternative to seccession. NO.

Mississippi State: I just gave Ole Miss the gate. Do you really think I’d let the WORSE Mississippi school in? NO.

Missouri: Have used their time in the SEC to really shore up their Deep South By Way Of The Ozarks bona fides. So congrats to Mizzou for going the Full Racism. Unfortunately, that’s all I can let them have. NO.

South Carolina: They once picked my novel as their freshman year common read. Perhaps our finest institution of higher learning. YES.

Tennessee: Know how I said I wanted certain great programs of the 1990s to come back? This isn’t one of them. NO.

Texas A&M: They paid Jimbo Fisher more money than a man named Jimbo could ever possibly deserve and had the No. 1 recruiting class in the country this year to boot. They’ll still never win a goddamn thing, which is as it should be. YES.

Vanderbilt: Lol sure OK COMMODORE. Get the f—k out. NO. 

The Big, ugh, XII

Baylor: LSU beats them in both evildoing and on-field performance. NO.

Iowa State: Did you know there were this many Power Five college football teams? Now you’re beginning to understand why monopolization of the sport is really doing us a favor. Anyway, remember Troy Davis? NO.

Kansas: The laughingstock football team of a laughingstock conference. Makes Rutgers look like it belongs in the Big Ten somehow. NO.

Kansas State: Like Iowa State, KSU is somehow more endearing than their interstate rival school. But these are not vital states we’re discussing here, so NO.

Oklahoma: Lincoln Riley just hollowed out this program and left it a dead husk on the side of the road. But I’ve seen Oklahoma die before. They lie there, dead as can be, and then a great prairie wind blows in hundreds of millions in car dealer booster money and HEY PRESTO! Suddenly guys from Oakland want to go play in Norman again. YES.

Oklahoma State: They have all the money, and their coach has every Fox News anchor in his contacts list. And yet they A&M it up every single year, finishing with 10 wins no one notices and two losses that everyone does. How marvelous. YES.

TCU: We now come to the “schools you play for because UT wouldn’t offer you a starting job” section of this post. NO.

Texas Tech: Same deal. “Texas” and “Tech” belong next to each other about as much as Aaron Rodgers and his family do. NO.

West F—kin’ Virginia: We’ve got the Deep South covered in this realignment, but have we REALLY taken care to make sure that the hill people are properly represented? We must. YES.

Texas: Based on their record, they really deserve to go hat in hand to the Patriot League for membership. And really, what college kid is gonna want to play in Texas if they can’t knock a girl up there anymore? These are the unforeseen consequences that Greg Abbott doesn’t want you to know about. A GRUDGING YES.

Cincinnati (joining 2023): Long a pit stop for talented coaches hoping to land a big money gig elsewhere. It’s like if St. Peter’s wasn’t adorable. NO.

BYU (joining 2023): Too late! I let Utah in! Stew in your chastity jammies over that, Mitt Romney! NO. 

Houston (joining 2023): This school still exists! NO.

Central Florida (joining 2023): You have to admire all these D-list schools joining the Big 12 just as it’s about to feast on the rotting bones of the Pac-12 in a futile attempt to stay afloat. Timing was never strong suit of Florida people. NO.

The Big Ten

Illinois: Somehow Northwestern is the more relevant football school in that state. This is what happens when you put your state school in the Missouri part of Illinois. No one comes. NO.

Indiana: Not even a decent basketball school anymore. Worthless. Subhuman. NO.

Iowa: Kirk Ferentz is not only one of the more despicable human beings ever to exist, he also presides over a program that even Jim Tressel finds stodgy. I’d rather watch my dog die of COVID-19 than watch Iowa play football. NO.

Maryland: I live in this state. I was on this campus just the other day. And yet you don’t need me to tell you that Maryland’s leap to the Big Ten was even stupider than Rutgers doing likewise. Much stupider, in fact. NO.

Michigan: As with Notre Dame, we come upon a school that has done very little to justify its inclusion among college football heavyweights. Also, anytime they wear blue pants for games instead of maize pants, a literal wolverine is killed by God. YES.

Michigan State: Consistently better than Michigan no matter how often Michigan students chant “SAFETY SCHOOL” at them. YES. 

Minnesota: Hockey school. NO.

Nebraska: Farming school. NO.

Northwestern: Dips—t school. NO.

Ohio State: Devoid of anything resembling character, ethics or fundamental morality. Grotesquely corrupt and unashamed of it. Everyone who comes into contact with this program either leaves it traumatized or a worse person. Toxic in the literal sense of the word and not the cultural sense. Ohio State WILL kill you. YES.

Penn State: OK now picture Ohio State, only they think everyone is too mean to them. YES.

Purdue: When I was at summer camp, my counselor scribbled on the cabin wall, “SCREW IU, GO PURDUE.” Still the most cogent sentence a Purdue student has ever written. NO.

RUCKUHS: I kinda want to include them just as a lark. But NO.

Wisconsin: Duller than a hospital stay. They never win anything important, and their fans are just Packers fans who don’t have a ride to Lambeau the next day. But I have been a dutiful servant to Q ratings in this post thus far, and I won’t relinquish that duty now. So YES.

There you go. Twenty-two teams make the final cut: Oregon, USC, Utah, Clemson, Miami, Notre Dame, Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, LSU, South Carolina (definitely a mistake by me), A&M, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, West Virginny, Texas, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin. Split them into two divisions and there’s your Super League. Will it be better than the college football you once knew? Of course not. In college football, the future is always scary and horrible. The good news for you is that hopefully it’ll all air exclusively on Paramount Plus down the line. You’ll never even know it’s there.


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Anna C. Knight

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