So what do you do when you are a major college football program and you leave behind traditional sports rivalries? I guess you go and find new ones.
Earlier this month, Texas A & M decided to follow Nebraska out the door of the Big 12. Its conference of choice was the S.E.C., its spurned rival the University of Texas. The move was so contentious that Texas Governor Rick Perry, who is an Aggie, was asked to intervene. (T. Boone Pickens, an Oklahoma State booster, told Perry to show America that â€œyou fix problems, donâ€™t contribute to â€™em.â€) Perry has declined to get involved, perhaps in part because Texas A & Mâ€™s rationale for the move was simple: if you canâ€™t beat â€™em, leave â€™em. Dating back to 1894, the teams have played more games than all but three other rivalries, but Texas has dominated, winning two-thirds of the games played, and eight of the past eleven. The S.E.C. offered more money and, the Aggies thought, a better chance to compete for recruits with Texas. But perhaps rivalries simply mean less than they once did. Teams and fans are able to fly around the country with ease, and fans often get a bigger kick of visiting, say, U.S.C. for the first time, than they do watch another game against the enemy next door. Conference realignment seems like a new phenomenon, but it has been the gameâ€™s permanent state. Weâ€™ll adapt to this new state of affairs soon enough.
Conference realignment has shown college football for what it is; a professional football league that doesnâ€™t pay itâ€™s players and is run by owners (university regents) that are just as greedy and money focused as their NFL brethren. No actually NFL owners do a better job of looking out for the game. NCAA owners are in a league of their own.