Saturday, December 17, 2011

Realignment, scandals ruin 2011 football


’Tis the season to honor college football players and coaches, with fresh All-America and all-conference teams surfacing on a daily basis.

But the honors lists and awards shows have overlooked the individuals who truly defined — and undermined — college football’s Lost Season of 2011. Thanks to these people, the fall focus shifted to regents, curators and realignment instead of offense, defense and special teams.

Truth be known, the Big 12’s primary difference-maker in 2011 was not Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III, the Heisman Trophy winner.

Instead, it was Texas A&M; President R. Bowen Loftin, who led his school to the Southeastern Conference and severed longtime rivalries in the process. If not Loftin, the honor should go to Baylor President Ken Starr, whose threat of legal action in regard to A&M;’s move held the league together long enough to land TCU and West Virginia as 2012 replacements for A&M; and Missouri.

Just when we thought we were approaching the finish line in the latest round of realignment, college football took an even bigger hit. Jerry Sandusky, Penn State’s former defensive coordinator, lowered the bar for inappropriate behavior to unprecedented levels in a sport that has seen its share of recruiting scandals.

The Sandusky allegations of child molestation trump even the August claims of former Miami booster Nevin Shapiro, a felon who says he provided impermissible benefits to 72 Miami athletes between 2002 and 2010, including money, cars, jewelry, sex parties and an abortion for a woman impregnated by a Hurricanes player.

Regardless of the color of your class ring or the region of the country involved, the 2011 season has left fans with a feeling that the biggest thing missing from college football has been.... football. The game itself has taken a back seat to off-field issues that still remain. That’s my take, and one that is shared by ESPN college football analyst David Pollack.

The nauseating details of the Sandusky allegations speak for themselves. So do the Shapiro claims. But neither individual is directly connected to college football this season.

The realignment moves, on the other hand, were triggered by college administrators whose timing was less than ideal. And the moves are still unfolding, with bowl games scheduled to start today.

“I wish we could put a muzzle on it during the season. It takes away from the game,” Pollack said. “That’s something that shouldn’t happen and shouldn’t be necessary. If we’re going to have conference expansion talks, they need to be after the season or during the summer.”

And the timetable cannot be controlled. That was Loftin’s stance in July, when he approached SEC commissioner Mike Slive about resuming realignment talks that were scuttled in 2010.

A&M; officials believed former Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe was too lenient in dealing with the growing influence of the Longhorn Network in regard to league policy. Unable to find satisfaction from Beebe, A&M; turned to the SEC and started the latest round of realignment dominoes tumbling. They’re still falling, with West Virginia and the Big East locked in a legal dispute about whether the school can fill the 2012 football dates being penciled in for the Mountaineers on prospective Big 12 schedules.

By the time league officials kick off their 2012 football season, here’s hoping the focus can return to the action on the field instead of the moves being made off of it. One Lost Season of college football is plenty for me.


Bangkok_Jayhawk 10 years, 8 months ago

Realignment has really soured me on collegiate sports. West Virginia in the Big 12? San Diego in the Big East? Endless travel for one game. Collegiate athletics are in no way about student athletes any more.

Bangkok_Jayhawk 10 years, 8 months ago

Realignment has really soured me on collegiate sports. West Virginia in the Big 12? San Diego in the Big East? Endless travel for one game. Collegiate athletics are in no way about student athletes any more.

VaJay 10 years, 8 months ago

It's the unfortunate chasing of the ultimate payoff by the major universities at the expense of tradition and their own student athletes and fan base. Also KU better hope we don't go the same way as Maryland, who has funded their football program extensively, paid off a coach to leave, made a big hire, and can't fill their stadium - now they're cutting many other sports.

manginodrh00lz 10 years, 8 months ago

SDSU from the Mountain West to the Big East but Big West in B-ball - crazy.

TJ67 10 years, 8 months ago

For us Jayhawk fans, let's not forget KU's completely dismal season. That certainly contributed more than a few rain clouds to this picture.........

Robert Brock 10 years, 8 months ago

Boise State to the Big East! Yay! Great geography. American Exceptionalism.

jhox 10 years, 8 months ago

Brock, I agree. However, we can't blame the Big East or Boise, they're just in survival mode, like the Big 12 was a couple of months ago. The BCS and ESPN are ruining college football making it all about the money. They're being incredibly short sighted.

dino5540 10 years, 8 months ago

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manginodrh00lz 10 years, 8 months ago

Jayhawkinnebr, When did you dislike Gill? You supported him through his entire time he was head coach.

Benjamin Piehler 10 years, 8 months ago

The stuff that makes college athletics great is the element of amateurism and the passion of the fans. Realignment and scandals reveal the "man behind the curtain" is of course money. It turns out our beloved schools are glorified farm teams for the professional leagues... sportsmanship and academics are an afterthought that seem to only matter to fans. Fewer and fewer kids choose a school because they like the atmosphere, its all about pro-potential, cold hard cash or something stupid; like if it's an Addidas or Nike sponsored program. It's still fun to watch a game, but I can no longer shake questioning what really goes on under the table.

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