The year is 1922, Warren G. Harding just made the first Presidential radio address ever. The average American worker made 75 cents an hour. After work, you walked into a bar, and tried convincing your buddies, that in 100 years, professional boxing and horse racing will be back page news. This all seems inconceivable, but, the reality is, it is true.
Imagine later in the afternoon, explaining to a friend the B1G media rights deal in 100 years is expected to exceed $1 billion annually. The landscape is changing, for better or worse is still to be determined. While some things seem to change, others remain the same. The money, is always at the center of the universe. College football has evolved into a for profit endeavor, which surely seemed impossible.
The evolution of the sport, is one very few saw coming, but the sports willingness to change, has become it’s backbone, and therefore the foundation of its growth, and it has always been the money, that has provided the growth. Granted, the television partnerships have enabled the growth, and the 1987 Fiesta Bowl, PSU & Miami, was moved as a stand alone night game on January 2nd, the very moment, the proverbial horse permanently left the barn.
Whether it’s removing conference divisions or Jimbo and Saban throwing Connor McGregor like press conference haymakers, its always about the money. Money has caused the change, conference expansion, contraction, alliances, it’s always about the money. Maryland to the B1G, Notre Dame and the ACC alliance, Texas and OU to the SEC, the money drives the change.
College football is a sport, where you never, say never. Rivalries come, and obviously they go, where does next wave of changes come from? The driving force is money, the destination is the College Football Playoff. And leagues will soon start to make paths for as many playoff teams as possible. Great games could and in some instances, should go away. If Michigan proves to be a potential roadblock, for Ohio State, or vice versa, why would the B1G create an extra elimination game? Imagine this scenario, a 12 team playoff awaits…..
Both Michigan and Ohio State, have 2 losses, their regular season match up eliminates one of them, then the winner beats a 2 loss Penn State team in the title game, the B1G only gets one team in, instead of potentially getting all three into the college football playoff.
The money at the end of the rainbow, is the playoff. The league, has negotiating power from playoff appearances. A league commissioner has the responsibility of bettering the league, and bettering typically means, earning each school as much as possible.
If rivalry games are nixed, but a league gets more playoff berths as a result, didn’t the league make the right decision? Just because “that’s the way we’ve always done it” doesn’t make it right. As the landscape changes, so must the approach, espically with the removal of divisions. Why on earth, would Michigan want to save the rivalry with Ohio State, if that game will annually prevent them from reaching the college football playoff?
Ohio State, Penn State, and Michigan find themselves in a rather odd position. Those three schools mean more to the B1G than the B1G means to them. The anticipated $1.1 billion tv contract is worth what, without the 3 major players? Shouldn’t the B1G protect their 3 biggest earners? Ultimately, wouldn’t it be to Purdue’s benefit, if all three are making playoff appearances? Long gone are the days, where the Rose Bowl was the end game!
In 1922 beating Michigan meant everything, now it essentially means nothing. One would wonder, would the average Buckeye fan consider the season a succuss for beating Michigan? Or making a trip to the College Football Playoff? The word fan, is derived from the word fanatic, school presidents and league officials can’t be making decisions based on emotions, they must be made for financial reasons.
Change is coming, the game itself barely resembles what you grew up with, but the reality is simple. Whether it’s, 4, 6, 8, 12, or 16, the primary objective is to reach the College Football Playoff. And if that end game means, Michigan and Ohio State don’t play at Noon in late November, or don’t play at all, making the College Football Playoff is still all that matters.