October 27th, 2011 11:13 AM║ Posted By: John Pennington ║ Permalink
║ Schools: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vanderbilt
Tags: OSU, SEC, West Virginia, WVU
Nobody dislikes politicians more than me. We’ve reached a point in this country when most of them love their party more than their country. If that weren’t bad enough, most of the folks we send to Washington do whatever they can to not fix our serious problems. Instead of the economy and health care they take up silly side issues like steroids in baseball, HGH in football, all while threatening to weigh in on “spygate” and the BCS.
Now — thanks to Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell — they’re wasting Americans’ time and money by involving themselves in the current conference expansion/realignment mess.
It’s one thing for politicians to lobby to keep in-state schools together. But when the people we send to Congress decide they need to pull strings to make sure Homestate U. gets a berth in Conference X, well, that’s taking things a mile or 10 too far.
We’ve got some links for you to chew on this morning just to catch you up on all this silliness. Most of it would seem to have bupkes to do with Missouri or the SEC.
On that front, the biggest news yesterday was The Kansas City Star’s report that MU chancellor Brady Deaton is scheduled to go to India next week to speak at an international conference on radiopharmaceuticals. (I happen to be all for that because there are a lot of sick guys out there in sportstalk radio-land. Bah-dum-bum. I’ll be here all week.) The takeaway: If Missouri can’t line up its exit from the Big 12 before the end of the weekend, this mess probably won’t be cleared up until after Deaton returns about 10 days into November. Hooray.
But here’s the fear regarding all this Congressional hanky-panky — while it looks like this is a Big 12/West Virginia/Louisville problem, now that shouts are being heard in the halls of Congress, is it not possible that all of the politicians not happy over realignment might band together and decide to investigate the whole matter? After all, as we’re seeing in Kentucky and West Virginia, what better way to kiss up to the electorate than to fight for the local school when it comes to its football conference.
And if some nitwit decides to further waste our tax dollars by calling for some half-baked hearing on conference expansion, then everything could be put on hold.
Maybe you like expansion and maybe you don’t. Maybe you think the SEC should add West Virginia or East Carolina or East Oxnard Community College. Fine. Super.
But the minute Congress gets involved is the minute things will go straight to Hell. Mark my words. They may be keeping Mizzou out of the SEC at the moment, but tomorrow they may putting a de facto cap on all expansion or causing other leagues to break apart.
For those who don’t like the slippery slope argument, I give you cigarettes and ice cream. As smoking bans were put in place across America — rather than allowing businesses to decide for themselves if they would be smoking or non-smoking — I told my friends that this would open us up to all manner of bans. Obesity is the #1 cause of health problems in our country. Insurance companies know that. What’s to stop their lobbyists from trying to ban all types of fattening foods? Imagine no ice cream parlors, I said.
A couple of years later, trans fats have been banned in New York City and the cities of San Francisco and Boston have now banned sugary drinks from vending machines on city property. Soda taxes are now being proposed across the country. Next stop: ice cream.
Does that make me a prophet? Hardly. It just makes me someone who knows that buffoonish blowhards will act like buffoonish blowhards when given half a chance.
So whether you’re for expansion or agin’ it, you should be on your knees praying that our elected “leaders” don’t get involved in it. Or else things will only get worse.
Besides, shouldn’t Minority Leader McConnell be all for free enterprise with little government involvement? Or is that just pablum he tosses around on the stump? It seems big government is A-OK as long as he’s the big government interfering in the business decision of nine Big 12 schools.
The links to catch you up on all of this…
1. Yesterday morning, everyone from Texas to West Virginia believed that WVU was set to join the Big 12 as soon as Missouri departed.
2. Then came reports that WVU would get a Big 12 bid regardless of whether Mizzou left or not. (We didn’t buy that one, but okay.)
3. But then the Big 12 slowed their expansion plans when McConnell started lobbying the league to reconsider Louisville. WVU sources who had been more than willing to talk about their move to the Big 12 on Tuesday suddenly went silent. (Louisville was believed to be the Big 12′s top choice in expansion right up until WVU stormed past them this week.)
4. It turns out McConnell — a U of L grad — had placed a phone call to Oklahoma president David Boren, himself a former senator. And that’s when this happened.
Suddenly, West Virginia politicians had to protect their phony-baloney jobs, too. Senator Jay Rockefeller said:
“The Big 12 picked WVU on the strength of its program — period. Now the media reports that political games may upend that. That’s just flat wrong. I am doing and will do whatever it takes to get us back to the merits.”
Fellow West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin then took things further:
“If these outrageous reports have any merit — and especially if a United States Senator has done anything inappropriate or unethical to interfere with a decision that the Big 12 had already made — then I believe that there should be an investigation in the US Senate, and I will fight to get the truth. West Virginians and the American people deserve to know exactly what is going on and whether politics is interfering with our college sports.”
Somebody give the Senator an harrumph.
5. Naturally, some of this mess reportedly ties back to a rift between Oklahoma and Texas. (And people wonder why Missouri wants to put that league in its rearview mirror.) Oklahoma wants Louisville. Texas wants West Virginia.
6. Orangebloods.com – the Rivals site covering Texas — reported this morning that WVU is still the pick to replace Missouri. (Of course that’s the Texas the viewpoint.) The site also claims that it would take a “miracle” for the Big East to free WVU to leave immediately. If that doesn’t happen, the Big 12 won’t free Mizzou to leave immediately.
Again I ask: How strong is the language in these contracts? If the pact states that a school will remain in the league or pay an exit fee to leave, then paying an exit fee to leave should fulfill the contract.
7. While the Longhorns are saying WVU is still the pick, The New York Times reported yesterday that the race between the Mountaineers and Cardinals was “too close to call.”
8. And now Oklahoma State mega-booster T. Boone Pickens says he needs to be “convinced on West Virginia.” His concerns about the school?
“Morgantown… as I remember, you’ve got to fly into Pittsburgh and then drive a couple hours. That’s pretty isolated.”
Said the man whose school is in Stillwater, Oklahoma… an hour and 15 minutes outside of Tulsa.
9. (UPDATE) Just to show how dysfunctional the Big 12 is, OU’s president said yesterday that he doesn’t understand how that league could create its own TV network when Texas already has a channel of its own and the Sooners plan to keep their Tier 3 rights, too.
10. As The Charleston Gazette perfectly puts things today: “Big 12 brings the circus to town.”
Amen. There is no greater joke in the current college landscape than the Big 12 conference. Quick, tell me the last time you heard of a Big Ten or SEC or ACC booster weighing in on what their league should do.
Oklahoma and OSU are good together. They should grab the remaining old Big 8 schools — Kansas, Kansas State, and Iowa State — and beg their way into something else, anything else.
Texas — and the remora who cling to them — should all head in another direction where the Longhorns can rule and their peasants can, well, be peasants.
And to think there are those who think Missouri and Texas A&M are making a mistake. The only mistakes were made by the other Big 12 schools who didn’t crawl on their knees toward Mike Slive begging for entry into his cozy conference.
Regardless of what the Big 12 does next, it will be blow apart as soon as its much talked about media-rights deal ends in six years. Adding Notre Dame would only bring in another poor fit with its own massive ego and its own way of doing things. There would be Texas. There would be Oklahoma and OSU. There would be Notre Dame (in some sports). And there would be “the rest.” With everyone pulling in different directions.
Congrats to Mizzou for breaking free. Even if it takes longer than we expected, the Tigers are making a very, very wise decision.
Now somebody tell McConnell, Manchin and Rockefeller to get back to work.
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