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Confessions of a conference realignment addict

I am an addict.

I cannot seem to stop reading articles about conference realignment. Not just about USC and UCLA moving to the B1G, which most RU fans would understand.

No, I’m reading about the remaining schools in the PAC-12, soon to be 10, and what will happen to them. I’m reading about how state legislators in Washington and Oregon are musing how they can create inseparable bonds between, respectively, U-Dub and Washington State along with Oregon and Oregon State. I’m reading about potential mergers between the Big XII and Pac 12. I’m reading about Herb Kirkstreit’s views on the USC/UCLA move and the future of college athletics.

I can’t help myself.

Maybe it’s because I’m grateful for where Rutgers is right now. Make that uber mercifully thankful and grateful and delirious that we are where we are.

Last year, when Oklahoma and Texas announced their move, I thought that saner heads would/could prevail. Remember the "Alliance", the handshake-is-all-we-need agreement among the B1G, the Pac-12, and the ACC? Gone! Once based on the idea that the three commissioners of those leagues trusted each other, they were all standing pat, not raiding each other’s leagues, and were going to look into mutually beneficial scheduling to counter the mean old SEC.

How’d that work out?

And I really thought that the Big XII would be the forgotten stepchild of college sports in the P5 or Autonomous Five or whatever we’re calling them. Not anymore. And most other folks who are in the know and a lot smarter than me are saying the same. In fact, there are more than a few looking to the imminent demise of the Pac-12 and the ACC as we know them.

Which brings me back to my perseverating over conference realignment. Like most of you, I’m over the moon about Rutgers in the Big Ten. I think about UConn (not often and not always fondly) and how close they thought they were to the promised land. They had national titles in men’s and women’s hoops, national titles in field hockey, a shiny new stadium up in East Hartford just prime for big time football success. I’m pretty sure more than a few folks up in Storrs thought that at some point (now likely in the past) the ACC might come knocking with an offer. Now the ACC is looking over its shoulder wondering if either the Big Ten or the SEC will be lurking about, waiting for Miami or Clemson or UNC or Virginia to see all that green money, I mean green grass, on the other side of I-95. My favorite RU Blog managing editor spelled it out it pretty succinctly.

Then there are the posts about the "value" of specific college brands. How much is Clemson worth? More than Georgia Tech or Wake Forest? Ask Jim Phillips, the ACC commissioner, if he’s been thinking more lately about the "value" of his conference’s schools than he used to. And if Kevin Warren or Greg Sankey are thinking about the "value" of the Miami TV market (#18 nationally) or whether Tallahassee (#108) might just be a long pass away from Tampa-St. Pete (#13).

And then there’s the latest news that, maybe not unlike Rutgers, UCLA Athletics was in a heap of financial trouble. It’s behind a paywall, but here’s the big take away from the LA Times story:

Over the last three fiscal years UCLA's athletic department had run up a $102.8-million deficit that figured only to worsen given the school's sagging football attendance and paltry Pac-12 payouts that lagged behind its major conference counterparts."

So, yeah, I cannot get enough of this news. If only to realize that a) Rutgers got the biggest life raft out there, b) Rutgers is not alone in the financial wilderness of college sports, and c) okay, it’s a) again: Rutgers got the biggest life raft out there.

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