Realignment could spell the end of the NCAA

Dominoes will begin falling with increasing frequency now that Texas and Oklahoma have shattered the college football landscape by moving to the SEC. Mega-conferences, chaos and the possible end of the NCAA may be the result.

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Sports

August 3, 2021 - 9:29 AM

Texas Tech fans volley the Raider Power chant during a 2019 game against Oklahoma State. Both schools and the rest of the Big 12 face an uncertain future with Texas and Oklahoma exploring a move to the Southeastern Conference. Photo by TNS

There was never a plan for college football. On Nov. 6, 1869 — only four years after Americans fought Americans on battlefields — Rutgers played New Jersey. The latter is now known as Princeton. Rutgers won 6-4. Nothing since has gone according to script, there having been no script. The sport hasn’t so much evolved as careened from place to place.

There was a time when Notre Dame, the biggest name of all, deigned not to grace any bowl. There was a time when bowl destinations — this when there were seven or so bowls, not seventy thousand — were determined by which team had visited Pasadena or Miami or New Orleans less recently. There was a time when the sport’s champion was decided by vote, a time when a player’s only way of pocketing money for his on-field service was to shake an alum’s hand.

That was then. This is now, though “now” will surely have a shortish shelf life. By the time Texas and Oklahoma begin SEC play — the date is set for 2025 — there mightn’t be a Big 12, which as of now has only eight committed members. The Big Ten might have merged with its little brother, the Pac-12. (Remember when those two decided NOT to play football in 2020? Remember how long that lasted?) Notre Dame, which played in the ACC on a guest pass last season, might have finally bowed to the inevitable and enrolled as a member in full. The ACC, which cannot stand the SEC, might well have said, “Can’t beat ‘em; better join ‘em.”

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