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Welcome to football's silly season

Nothing screams college football championship week like getting an email announcing: GRAND CANYON UNIVERSITY TO JOIN WESTERN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE.

But wait, there's more.

Tulane and East Carolina are joining the Big East.

But wait, there's more.

The ACC is suing Maryland.

But wait, there's more.

Mark Stoops has reportedly taken the Kentucky head coaching job in the middle of Florida State's preparations for the ACC championship game.

Each of these off-the-field headlines broke within hours of each other Tuesday, reminding us once again that the actual games have taken a backseat to the business of collegiate athletics. Game weeks were once a sacred time to begin dissecting key matchups, or talk about players to watch, or speculate about who needs to do what to go to their favored bowl game.

Now they are filled with realignment chatter, coaching speculation and downright frivolity, leaving many a college sports fan screaming, "Make it stop!"

Unfortunately, silly season is not going to stop. Not now, anyway. The past two weeks have proven that the zany turn we saw collegiate athletics take last year has gotten only zanier. West Virginia in the Big 12 does not seem so strange when you realize that Rutgers -- a program that has never won a conference championship -- has gained entry into the Big Ten.

Or Maryland -- a program that just axed many of its athletic teams -- has gained entry into the Big Ten. Neither program did anything on the athletic field to gain this so-called promotion into a bigger, richer conference. In fact, they have done their best to run their programs into the ground, running up huge deficits that would have gotten CEOs in charge of actual business endeavors fired.

But as we have learned, deficits and on-the-field play are all incidental. If you are in a big market, you get a bailout.

If you can show a school the money, they'll take it. Consider that Tulane president Scott Cowan told the student newspaper, The Tulane Hullabaloo, back in March, "My view is that the Big East is not a power conference, and anyone who thinks they are doesn't know athletics."

Views change, don't they?

At least Grand Canyon -- a non-football playing school -- is obvious about its intentions. Grand Canyon, located in Phoenix, is a for-profit university listed on NASDAQ (symbol LOPE for its mascot, the Antelopes) and will join the WAC in 2013 once the school reclassifies from Division II to Division I.

Expansion, you see, has shown no bounds. Especially for conferences like the WAC and Big East, completely decimated in the last year by a shifting landscape that neither had the power to control. The overriding mantra has been made obvious: The weak will not survive.

"Realignment has been a fact of life," Big East commissioner Mike Aresco said on a conference call Tuesday. "Obviously, some of it has not been edifying, as we've seen situations develop. But we as a conference have to be dynamic. … We have a strategy for expansion, we have a strategy for our conference. We are building a national football conference that will compete at the highest level."

The Big East must be bracing for the potential to lose additional schools, since the ACC has a current opening. And, well, the Big East would not be in the position it is in today had the ACC not begun its raid of the conference in 2003 and finished it off with Pitt and Syracuse last season.

Yes, it is popular to point and laugh at the Big East for some of these ridiculous moves -- moves that on the outside look like they were made when Aresco put on a blind fold and randomly threw darts at a map. Many have said the future Big East looks an awful lot like the Conference USA of old today.

But the ACC looks an awful lot like the Big East of old, too.

The last year has taught us that the stakes in collegiate athletics have never been higher, and they will only continue to grow as more money is pumped into the system, through television deals or the future playoff.

Silly season will only get sillier, and games will only get overshadowed when big business gets in the way.

Change is the new normal.

Just wait for more.