Is SDSU’s move to the Big East football conference a desperate bid for the big time?
Greed until somebody makes you stop. You see it in banking, drug cartels, and politics. It’s especially raw in college football. Big-league college football has become a busy brothel. University presidents glide into the front parlor wearing pink babydoll lingerie and form a line. The gentlemen, ESPN/ABC/NBC/CBS, sit on a huge naugahyde couch, select a “date,” get up, and walk off the trading floor hand-in-hand with their babydoll.
Actually, brothels are one step up the karmic ladder from university presidents, because brothels don’t pretend to be anything more than what they are. College presidents are on their knees rooting through sawdust, looking for dropped change, while declaiming against the commercialization of amateur athletics.
We have San Diego State football joining the Big East in a desperate bid to move into the big time, to be in a conference that automatically qualifies for the BCS. The fact that the Aztecs will be playing colleges nobody in San Diego cares about is of no matter. We can safely assume that feeling of disinterest will be reciprocated by our East Coast brethren. Imagine the sports-going residents of Piscataway, New Jersey, Tampa, Florida, and Storrs, Connecticut, flocking to their college stadiums, crowding around big-screen TVs, and filling up neighborhood taverns so they can watch San Diego State football. Hard to bring that vision to mind, isn’t it?
Our football warriors will spend many hours in airport hell, undertake many cross-country trips to play schools that have no connection to San Diego. SDSU is betting on the come, betting that the Big East will continue to have an automatic BSC bowl invitation. Considering how quickly college conferences dissolve and reform, that will not be an easy bet to win.
One wonders, Does a football conference that spans the continent from San Diego to Connecticut instill confidence in its longevity? Well, probably more than the upcoming Mountain West/Conference USA Borg-like absorption that will consist of 17 to 24 universities, depending on who makes the last bid, or whether there is a better deal available when a TV contract is finally signed.
East Carolina vs. Fresno State. Catch the magic.
And then, five days after joining the Big East for football, San Diego State rejoins the Big West for everything else in their athletic department, minus four women’s programs. I said rejoins because this is the second time around for San Diego State and the Big West. SDSU was a founding member of the conference, then called the Pacific Coast Athletic Association, in 1969. As San Diego State grew, so did its desire to make money and sport it up in a better neighborhood. SDSU left the Big West in 1978 for the Western Athletic Conference. Left the WAC for the Mountain West Conference in 1998, and now, to complete the circle, will return to PCAA/Big West in 2013.
Here’s one way to measure how big the step down is for San Diego State athletics: Regard, pilgrim, the conference differential. For the Big West, it costs $150,000 to join the club. Club members can expect a laughable $30,000 from league-wide revenue sharing. You can’t bribe even one decent recruit with a lousy $30,000.
For the Big East it costs $2.5 million to join the club. Even though the Aztecs will only collect a share of the football revenue, that share should be worth $7 million, plus or minus. Wouldn’t you play Nova Scotia Normal College or the Reykjavik Iceland Landlubbers for $7 million? Well, so would San Diego State.
We’ve already discussed the excitement surrounding SDSU football joining the Big East, implementing those enthralling rivalries against Disneyland and longtime foe, Ukraine Mechanics College. But, one is forced to say “icing on the cake” when hearing SDSU will throw 14 athletic programs into the pot and join the Big West.
I should put in here that joining the Big West is a plus for SDSU baseball. UC Irvine, Long Beach State, and Cal State Fullerton have national reputations. Unfortunately, nobody (read: television), cares about college baseball.
Television does care about basketball, and in that sport the Aztecs were screwed, which is a shame. San Diego basketball is a successful program, made it to the Sweet 16 in last season’s NCAA tournament. Unhappily, most San Diego State athletic programs will receive less recognition, face lesser competition, and since the Big West does not compete in women’s crew, women’s lacrosse, women’s swimming and diving, and women’s indoor track and field, those programs will have to make a home in the weeds.
Hey, how about having women’s crew, lacrosse, swimming, indoor track and field join the Mountain West/Conference USA? Why not? I can see it. San Diego State women’s lacrosse vs. Okeechobee Women’s Prison Babydollls.