Just tell the truth. Those involved with college athletics should stop trying to say up is down, red is green, and conference realignment isn’t about money, money and more money.
Instead, s0me try to insult our intelligence with disingenuousness wrapped around gobbledygook.
“This was about national visibility for our players, being on linear TV so they can be seen, so they could have the national exposure,” said University of Washington president Ana Maria Cauce Saturday during a conference call with reporters.
To hear Cauce tell it, she was delivering the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth regarding why the Huskies just announced they’re leaving the Pac-12 for the Big Ten. She added, “It was about stability. It was about having a future that we could count on and built towards.”
Let’s do the math, and you won’t need a calculator or even an abacus. I mean, isn’t $20 million (Pac-12) half as much as $40 million (ACC)? Yup, and $40 million is less than $50 million (Big 12), which is slightly below $55 million (SEC) and way behind $80 million to $100 million (Big Ten).
Those figures are the yearly amounts from national television deals in those conferences for member schools.
Now if you consider that Texas and Oklahoma are on their way to the SEC from the Big 12, and that Oregon and Washington will leave the Pac-12 for the Big Ten, and that Utah and Arizona State are departing the Pac-12 for the Big 12, and that those switches happened over the course of months and then days, this is only the start of the wild, wild west (east, north and south) of schools bolting conferences for the biggest annual payday they can find.
That’s the truth.
For amplification, let’s turn to John 8:32, and not from something like the playbook of John Calipari, but from the Gospel of John in the Bible: “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
Take Florida State, for instance. School president Richard McCullough informed trustee board members this week that FSU would “very seriously” consider leaving the ACC if its national television revenue distribution among universities didn’t “radically change.”
McCullough knows his Seminoles historically rank among the top programs in college football, which is the sport driving the bulk of the TV revenue everywhere. As a result, he told the truth by suggesting FSU receives tens of millions of dollars less per year from the ACC compared to Big Ten and SEC teams. He wants the Florida States and the Clemsons of the ACC to get a significantly larger slice of their conference TV bucks than the Georgia Techs and the Wake Forests.
OK, but even if those other ACC schools took just enough money from the conference’s TV deal for helmets and maybe a few sweat socks in order to give the bulk of the loot to the Florida States and the Clemsons, the bank accounts of those elite teams still would rank far behind their SEC and Big Ten counterparts.
Which means Florida State is destined to leave the ACC.
Clemson won’t be far behind.
Miami (Florida), too.
Fellow ACC school president Bubba Cunningham of North Carolina responded last week on a Raleigh, North Carolina radio show to what he called McCullough’s “barking” with Cunningham’s version of the truth: “I don’t think you have to have the most money to win the most games. I think we’ve demonstrated that over the years.”
Cunningham also mentioned the ACC won nine national championships last season in various sports, which tied into his truth, but this is the truth to his truth: None of those times North Carolina or one of his ACC counterparts won it all involved the highest revenue sports of football and basketball.
Which brings us to University of Colorado football coach Deion Sanders, especially since he delivered the ultimate truth last week behind the willingness of colleges to punt away years (and often decades) of history in a flash.
“All this is about money, you know that,” Sanders told reporters. “It’s about a bag. Everybody is chasing a bag. Then you get mad at the players when they chase it. How’s that? How do the grown-ups get mad at the players when they’re chasing it when the colleges are chasing it?”
We’ll save Sanders’ reference to the complex and confusing world in college athletics of name, image and likeness (NIL) deals for another day. As for this one, conference realignment is frustrating, and it’s sad. It’s also disgusting for traditionalists, but it’s neither complex nor confusing.