I had an entire column planned out for this week’s issue about how Texas’ “run-first” identity is an advantange in such a pass-happy conference like the Big 12. I was going to write it until I sat down and read this headline on ESPN.com — “Idaho clears Boise State to join Big East.” Then my jaw proceeded to drop to the floor.
For those of you who are keeping count, Boise, Idaho, is 2,249 miles away from Big East headquarters in Providence, RI.
Whats worse is that Idaho can’t even make an official transition until the Big East repairs itself by adding at least six teams to make up for those it lost in this latest round of conference realignment. Among the teams up for consideration? Southern Methodist University as well as the University of Houston, both of which are on the Third Coast, not the East.
Less than a month ago, I spoke to former Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe and he made it clear that among the top considerations a conference should have when considering its members is geography. It’s in the best interest of the students and alumni to choose schools that they can easily travel to, he said.
Clearly the Idaho State Board of Education and the Big East don’t have the best interest of their students and alumni in mind.
As is always the case, this has to do with television rights and revenue. You see, in order to pick Boise State up it would have to add other schools to the conference so as to logically add teams to a proposed “Western Conference” of the Big East. Ignore the utter irony of that action, and think about it as a business decision, and its the perfect move for the Big East and Boise State, which is perhaps what makes this whole thing seem so slimy to me.
The Big East would gain a huge fan base and following all across the country. Boise State president Bob Kustra estimates the annual payout to Big East football members at $3.7 million, compared to the $1.9 million projected as the top payout in the Mountain West, Boise State’s current conference. The Big East would also get to renegotiate a new media contract that would definitely pay much higher with an elite football program such as Boise State in the mix. Boise State would finally get to vie for a BCS-championship without strings attached, meaning more money. And the Big East could add a championship game, providing them more television and game revenue. The relationship is symbiotic.
But all the mutual benefits that the would-be move posits are negated by the corporate-like way schools and their conference’s handle their business. College athletics were once the paramount of American tradition. Now they are vessels for multi-million dollar corporations to wiggle their way into and exploit the talents of college athletes. I wish I could have written to my original column topic, but when school leaders such as the Idaho State Board of Education pave the way to commit something so infuriating and blatantly irresponsible, it is important to call them out.
If they should really have the student’s best interest in mind, its time they start acting like it.