Column: College football’s in chaos. It’ll still be fun to watch

Many college football fans are looking for a villain to blame.

“Who is responsible for this?” As if the recent spate of NCAA conference realignments were fodder for a murder podcast.

The latest response from the President of the State of Arizona reads: “the overlords of the media empire.”

How convenient.

Stippling style portrait illustration by LZ Granderson

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LZ Granderson

LZ Granderson writes about culture, politics, sports, and navigating life in America.

The changes dictated by football certainly complicate the schedules of every other team on campus. Withdrawals like those of Arizona State and USC threaten the solvency of longstanding conferences like the old PAC-12, now confined to the PAC-4 after eight schools migrated to greener pastures. At some point it seems like it’s time to wrap it all up – along with all the glorious history of conference rivalries and classic games.

In a way it will separate us from sports history. It was a thing when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar lost the all-time NBA goalscoring record last winter, but soon he saw his entire college conference vanish. As cynical as I can be about the NCAA and the college sports business, I’m a little saddened by this realignment. College rivalries within old conferences are more than just childhood memories. They boost the local economy, support countless scholarships beyond sports, and can foster connections with strangers.

Still, changes in the conferences don’t have to end all of that. Ideally, opportunities for more big encounters throughout the season will increase interest and revenue. And USC’s inclusion in the Big Ten should bode well for business.

It’s just terrible for nostalgia — and nostalgia is what drives boosters, and it’s boosters that used to drive high school sports.

Recently, the Washington State athletic director spoke about the fate of the PAC-12 and accused former conference commissioner Larry Scott for his demise (a popular choice).

Others have criticized relatively recent developments that are benefiting student athletes, such as the ability to switch faster and monetize their image.

After Arizona State defected, the school’s president sounded like Yoda talking to Luke in the swamp: “There are many forces at workincluding the overlords of the media empire out there who pushed much of it forward.”

Bruh, it’s not that deep.

College decisions are about money, and that’s easy to say like Deion “Coach Prime” Sanders said: “Everybody’s after the bag.” And as someone who grew up in a state in the Big Ten Conference, I wish the families of California boys all the best for the upcoming November.

There is a certain irony in seeing college football’s greed hurting its brand and knowing that it was a violation by the NCAA of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act of 1890 (authored by abolitionist Senator John Sherman) was when she didn’t compensate student athletes, many of them black, that got the ball rolling.

Anyway, after the blame game comes the much more interesting solution game. We have to stay tuned for good ideas. Beware of anyone who sees it like UCLA head coach Chip Kelly Notre Dame in response. He said this week: “Notre Dame is independent in football, but for everything else they’re in a conference.” … Why aren’t we all independent in football?”

This is a bold attempt at revisionist historiography, as if independence were a noble idea. What actually happened was that a 1984 Supreme Court ruling — citing the Sherman Anti-Trust Act of 1890 — said the NCAA could no longer control college football’s television rights, which schools and conferences could not opportunity to conclude their own contracts. No one took that baton and ran faster than Notre Dame In 1991, they signed an exclusive deal with NBC, leaving their former revenue-sharing rivals in the dust.

Everyone else has been trying to catch up since then.

Notre Dame’s decision to defect was a major achievement for Notre Dame. However, nobody said that this kind of thinking would benefit a conference. See what it does to the PAC-12 now that more colleges are taking care of themselves.

The “independent” Notre Dame couldn’t pay for student athletes, but the secession left football with plenty of money. Shortly after losing to USC in 2005, the Brain Trust Fighting Irish gave the head coach a new, more generous deal that eventually forced the school to pay a nearly $20 million takeover. These are the same guides as before wanted Urban Meyer, which arrested more than 30 players in his six years as a coach in Florida. Tell me why the rest of college football should be following in Notre Dame’s footsteps?

Perhaps the media masters know better.


Emma Bowman

Emma Bowman is a USTimesPost U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Emma Bowman joined USTimesPost in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing

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