Magnifying the Expansion Part 6: Fanning the Flames

Okay, we talked about the Big 10 expansion with all of the good bits on the business side of things, but what about us?  What about the fans?  How will the average stool jockey be affected if and when the Big 10 decides to expand out beyond its current bounds?  From the Trojan sporting LA type to the gator chomping tanned Floridian, the effect could be small.  Or it could be big.  The closer the proximity to the Big 10, the more the fans will experience change, especially right here in Kansas City.  Let’s see what can happen as we narrow the focus down to right here at the KCCGD headquarters.

Part of the speculation that’s blowing around talks about college football itself being primed for major changes.  It’s more of a business now than ever and because of that the tradition side of this national pastime is more unstable.  Football is the king here in the United States and traditionalists say that college football is the most pure.  We already have the NFL so we do not need another professional version of the sport.  No, the Canadian, Arena, and United leagues do not count.

With all of potential change, two traditions may go away.  One, the bowl game structure.  Thanks to mid major conferences and half-witted sports writers, the notion of a college football playoff took off in the last couple of years.  People complained about the lack of playoff when Utah and Boise State went undefeated but did not get a chance at the BCS National Championship.  If the Big 10 expands out to 16 teams, look for others to react.  We could be staring at 4 or 5 mega conferences.  This kind of coagulation sets itself up perfectly for the introduction of a playoff system, thus blowing away the unique tradition of bowls.

The second change is an unusual one.  The conferences are growing by leaps and bounds in terms of revenue from media contracts.  Universities collect all of the money that comes from television, merchandising, and advertising.  It’s getting to the point where the idea of paying collegiate players on top of their scholarship makes more sense.  Now, because of their high-profile nature these days, it makes more sense to pay them.  But what about the other students who either have no scholarship or have just full ride?  Because they are on TV, do athletes get special treatment?  Even when they cheat or fail out of the school they play for?  This begins to close the gap between the student athlete and the professional athlete.  This is not a good thing.

Okay, so we can see how the expansion may rock the whole nation of college football fans, but what about the fans in the Big 12?  There is major potential for the conference to become the new Big 10 or the Big 9 with Colorado, Texas, Missouri, and Nebraska being thrown around as ship jumpers.  Granted it’s a young conference, but it’s enjoyed major success in the football arena, even though most of it comes from the south.  If the unhappy north teams in Missouri and Nebraska go, could we see a destroyed conference?  What can commissioner Dan Beebe do to stop a mass exodus?

Dan Beebe will do what he can to keep the conference core together.  He’s been to the Pac 10 meetings in the hopes of setting up an alliance with the Pac 10.  We could see awesome match ups in football between the Big 12 and the Pac 10 in the near future, we may even see a joint television channel.  The Big 12 athletic directors and coaches meetings takes place June 1 and Beebe put the ultimatum down on Nebraska and Missouri.  No matter who stays or who goes, the conference will continue on, minus some of the oldest rivalries in the nation.

Rivalries will change forever in the Kansas City area. Some of the best rivalries come from this area.  We have the Border War to thank for that.  If you haven’t seen the recent contests at Arrowhead Stadium, you are missing out.  If Missouri goes, you will see the rivalry go too.  It will be relegated to almost nothing like the old Missouri and Illinois rivalry.  Let’s not even talk about the recent rivalry in Kansas State and Nebraska if the Cornhuskers move.  The fans here in town won’t have much in the terms of bragging rights anymore.  It will all be who won the Sunflower Showdown and that’s about it.

Kansas City was the hub of the old Big 8.  Now we see the headquarters moved from Kansas City down to Dallas, Texas.  The Big 12 Championship game looks to stay at the Jerry Dome while the Big 12 Tournament will have a home at the Sprint Center.  The balance of Big 12 activity may permanently go away if the Missouri and/or Nebraska leave.  Why have a championship game in a state where no conference team resides?  On the flip side, do you think the Big 10 will hold major tournaments or games in the Kansas City area, a fringe city?  College sports will shrink to almost nothing in Kansas City.

There  could be some good things.  We’ll get more coverage of Big 10 teams in Kansas City, so those Iowa fans who transplant down here will have something more to talk about.  For KC College Gameday, we get inspect the conference as a whole rather just this expansion series.  Heck we’ll even get to go over how Michigan will never get back to prominence with RichRod.  That kind of talk is all we’ll have here.  We won’t have actual games.  Sure talking about sports is great, but seeing it in person is way better.

That’s real victim here in this whole Big 10 expansion discussion: Kansas City.  The professional teams in this area have been laughable at best.  The city got together and built a nice, shiny new arena called the Sprint Center.  To this date, they haven’t found a professional sports team to fill the arena.  The one thing that binds sports fans in the area together is college sports.  The rivalries and tradition fill the hole where the other teams leave it empty.  If half of the teams go to another conference, a new whole will be created.  It just won’t be the same.

So we all will wait until whatever timetable runs out and see just who will go and who will stay.  Tune in tomorrow when we give our predictions and add to the speculation of this Big 1o expansion feeding frenzy.