Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Official Belly of the Beast Stance on Conference Realignment

A lot of people, well, actually none, have asked me on what side the Belly of the Beast stands on the issue of conference expansion/realignment. And, since we are in America and this is a silly little blog, I will spew forth an opinion that absolutely no one asked to hear.

There's no doubt college football is steamrolling in the direction of four to five 16-team conferences (anyone who believes otherwise also loves the current system of 34 exhibition games and one game that matters to reward teams and fans for living through three months of physical and mental agony). And if you're not in one of those conferences, you are not in Division I football anymore, and playing backyard football with Memphis, Iowa State, and Kansas State in the lot next to the abandoned tire factory. So it's in the best interest of every major conference (right now the main players are the SEC, Big 10, and Pac-12; everyone else falls into place after those three get settled) to grab the schools that they believe best fit their respective conference.

"Best fit" is sort of a vague term because some believe that phrase means who can help bring in the most money, while others want that phrase to mean schools that best relate geographically and culturally to current conference members. SPOILER ALERT: Those who are in the money camp are going to win. Money, even if it's only perceived money, is always going to win.

As a fan of a school in the SEC, I should be hoping that my school's conference picks up four teams that keep the conference on top of the mountain it currently sits. The idea being that the more prestige and cash money that continues to flow into the SEC will make my school better off in the Champion's League version of college football, as Spencer Hall calls it.

On the other hand (we have four fingers and a thumb), as a fan of a school that is in the bottom third of the SEC, is the addition of four more teams at or above Ole Miss' level a good thing for Ole Miss' individual success? Absolutely not. First, we already have to get around ourselves, which will always be our biggest enemy, then there are all the big schools like Alabama, LSU, Florida, Georgia, etc.

Adding four more schools with equal or greater ability for success only makes the road more difficult, whether it's scrapping to get into the Independence Bowl or the 16-team playoff that will eventually happen (there's way too much money sitting on the table for it not to happen). There's also the whole "more teams destroys the familiarity and natural rivals" argument that, while I tend to support it, isn't strong enough to overcome the dollar signs those in charge see.

I don't think anyone really wants any of this to happen, but standing still is not an option. College football essentially prints its own money. So, so, so much money, with even more money to come. But any kind of stationary activity means you're going to miss out on your chunk of all the money, which explains the actions of the Pac-10 last summer and the SEC recently (as well as those of Baylor and the other Big 12 schools trying to block Texas A&M from leaving because they know it's all over for them in Division I if A&M leaves).  Because without a piece of all that money, you no longer exist.

So ultimately, I know that Ole Miss needs the SEC about eleventy billion times more than the SEC needs Ole Miss. For that reason alone, which is purely based on survival, I have to get behind the SEC doing what it believes is in its best interest.  That doesn't mean I necessarily will agree with its choice of teams, but no one gives a damn what I think.  And therefore, for now, my stance remains WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS IN THE MIDDLE OF FOOTBALL SEASON? SAVE THIS FOR NEXT SPRING AND SUMMER WHEN THERE'S NOTHING GOING ON. SERIOUSLY. WHAT A BUNCH OF ASSHOLES. ALL OF YOU.

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