The US is a fairly large and vast country. It’s not the largest, but it does take up a considerable amount of room.
Living here has taught me that. Not only through traveling across this great country for work and vacations. I have also lived or spent a considerable amount of time in the Northeast, Mountains State, and Southwest. Not to mention I currently live here in the dead center of the country.
The U.S. is large. I mean very large. You can get an “idea” by flying over it but that really doesn’t give you the faintest idea of how big it is. Driving across it is another. But even that pushes one to exhaustion. Making your thought process a little wonky as the time passes by.
Yes, driving through West Texas or Eastern Montana can give you the belief that there is nothing out there and that the horizon goes off into infinity.
The farther west you go the less of society you see. There’s more bare ground. More open sky. More emptiness.
Those are very fleeting thoughts. It can take time spent in those areas and traveling back and fourth throughout over time that you really get an idea of how big this country really is.
Living on the coasts can give you roughly everything you need in a nice little package.
The PAC-12 is dying. Well, it’s most likely done. The schools that bring in the most amount of money to the conference have left. There are no more. Sure, there are really good programs that are still sitting there in the conference but in today’s age that really doesn’t matter. Sure, will some of those decent football schools make it to another conference and survive? Yes, they will.
However, the resources that once gave them ample facilities and luxuries that athletes enjoy to use and alumni love to see will not be quite as grand as they once were.
Again, some will be fine. There’s a conference in the Midwest that will happily take the outcasts and those schools will most likely be financially fine. They might even be able to make the “playoff”.
Is it anyone's fault? Sure, there’s plenty of blame to go around. The television companies, university presidents, and other conferences interests first come to mind.
None of it matters though. This series of events came into motion years ago. Long before many of us were even alive. There has been no real leadership in college sports. Yes, there’s the NCAA and individual conferences but they never really had any major impact that would have kept this from happening.
I am going to bring this back to my main point.
This is a very large country. It gets bigger and more vast the farther west you go. The farther you are apart the less connected to the main hub of society you are. It is then harder and harder to connect to it.
It is easy to compartmentalize college sports to certain areas of the country. The South, Midwest….Texas. But it goes far beyond that. There are hubs of fandom in Moscow, Corvallis, Las Cruses, and Provo that can rival just about anyone from Ann Arbor or Athens. These folks matter too.
College football is not just the Midwest and South. Areas that can be collected together in a nice little package that can easily be sold into households across the country.
It’s also the Apple Cup. It’s the Big Game. It’s the Civil War and Holy War. It’s PAC-12 After Dark when your kids are in bed and the “Prime Time” games are done. It’s Hawaii kicking off at 12am and that warm Red Bull that has been sitting out since you finished the afternoon game hours ago.
Want to go even deeper? How about The Battle For Nevada? Or maybe even the Battle of I-10?
Very few know these games even exist. Now, with the big boys of the world getting even bigger in the largest conferences those could very well be even more of a footnote on the year.
However, there are people out there that care. Lot’s of them. They may not go to every single home game. They may not have an Airstream that they take to every away game. These folks have and will continue to have to drive and fly to just about every game they want to go to. Because that’s how vast their world is. So vast that the powers that be are making it even more vast.
These folks are just casualties.
There is no real solution. Sure, people have ideas of what should be done. Everyone has their thoughts. However, are any of them going to change the minds who really pull the strings?
I’ve said for years that if you want real “pure” amateur football you should start following FCS or more likely Division II or lower teams. They tend to stay a bit more local in their footprint and the money is not there to change it much. But fandom takes time. Also, any interest in getting into new teams.
The parity of college football has been bad and is most likely not going to get any better. The top 25 or so schools will only get richer and their piece of the pie will only make them better.
I love this country and I love college football. It’s the most messed up sport in the world and I can’t get enough of it. The powers that be know this. They want my attention and they want even more people than there already is watching. They want the casual viewer. The want someone who will watch USC play Ohio State because those are the names and have large fanbases. Those games bring in the eyeballs. For some reason, Washington State versus Oregon State just doesn't do it. Maybe it never did. Maybe this is just the evolution of the sport.
The western half of the United States is vast. The powers that be just made it even more so. I hope the western half enjoys this college football season. Change is coming and they may not like it.