As you may have seen in an earlier post, NCAA president Mark Emmert made an appearance on Mike & Mike In the Morning on ESPN Radio today, and was asked about a variety of topics facing collegiate athletics.
One of those topics conference realignment.
Specifically, Mike Golic asked him to respond to the idea that many of the recent moves were made for the sake of money. Emmert said:
"It's not entirely about that, but it's predominantly about that. There's nothing fundamentally wrong with having a team or a conference have a really good media contract because as long as they're using that money to go back in and support their athletic programs and their students, great. I'm in favor of that. It's when it becomes focused solely on the money grab to the detriment of the student-athletes. When you've got kids flying coast to coast to play a game and they've got to be back in class the next morning, then I've got some fundamental issues with that. We, the NCAA, don't control that, but I'm trying to use my bully pulpit to say, 'Stay focused on what counts here. Keep your eye on the ball.' Sure you've got to generate revenue ... but you don't do that at the cost of young men and young women."
Sounds like Emmert is specifically addressing the plight of the Big East, which is the only coast-to-coast league currently in existence. The WAC also features schools as far flung as Louisiana to California; and once Conference USA and the Mountain West merge, that would also be another coast-to-coast league (actually beyond the West coast, because of Hawaii).
But the example Golic brought up to help illustrate the point Emmert made was Boise State playing football in the Big East.
The NCAA has little power in college football it has no say in realignment, bowls or a future playoff. I am not even sure what Emmert can do from this so-called "bully pulpit" to stem the realignment tide. Sure, adding Boise State and San Diego State might not make geographic sense, but they make survival sense. For the Big East, realignment has been about survival, and adding the teams best positioned to help its profile.
At least those schools are football-only. The added travel on West Virginia, for example, is going to be something to monitor considering all sports are involved in having to play all conference road games in Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas and Iowa. Especially midweek basketball games that could very well affect class attendance. Same goes for Missouri and Texas A&M, which must travel now to Georgia, South Carolina and Florida as well.
It is understandable that Emmert has his concerns. I think many of us do. But Emmert clearly knows he cannot act on this one issue. He is as powerless as I am to stop what already has started.