Football at the collegiate level is growing faster than it has in its storied history, but unfortunately it is threatened by a fan base that is constantly crying foul against the governing body of college football. The NCAA has come under fire for its Bowl Championship Series, a ranking system that decides the postseason arrangement of the top teams in the nation using human and computer rankings. The NCAA countered this by agreeing to add a 4 team playoff at the end of the year, allowing the BCS to choose 4 teams to compete for the championship instead of just 4.
But now, the latest controversy is over the expansion of college football conferences. There has been a rash of colleges changing allegiances in sporting conferences, choosing to join large “Super Conferences”. The Big Ten conference will have 14 teams in a couple of years, at the expense of other leagues such as the Big 12 (which now contains only 10 teams) and the Big East (who seems to lose another team every other week). Many teams are choosing to switch into stronger conferences for added stability and financial opportunities. But at what cost?
Will fans be able to keep up with their teams when they have to travel across even greater distances now that the regional structure of several conferences is crumbling? West Virginia, a former Big East member, moved to the Big 12 this year. Now parents and fans of the Mountaineers athletic programs have given up traveling to places like New Jersey, Connecticut, and Kentucky in favor of much farther journies to schools in Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. Boise State, in order to compete with its rival Big East members, will travel from Idaho all the way to places like Orlando.
In addition, schools are splitting up rivalries that have existed for generations. Texas A&M will no longer clash against rivals Texas Tech and Oklahoma, while Missouri will attempt to begin new rivalries against teams like Mississippi and Arkansas. College Football is weakening its appeal for money, and if it isn’t careful the landscape may change beyond recognition.