Chris Johnson is an RTC Columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn.
There are scores of issues in the present configuration of college sports. The NCAA is probably the largest, and the most heavily-critiqued; the entire enterprise is littered with various points of contention. It almost feels like a breaking point – the moment when schools decide they just can’t proscribe themselves to the current rules and regulations, that an entirely new system must be constructed to preserve their continued participation – is being reached. The ongoing Ed O’Bannon lawsuit could bring the very severance and utter dissolution many schools have feared and/or resigned themselves to for years. Others will welcome the potential revolutionary financial shift the O’Bannon suit purports to engender. Successful or not, something is going to happen. It’s ominous and inevitable and suspenseful, akin to the slow and sleep-inducing introductory clutter of a Russian novel, or the first two rounds of the NBA playoffs. An apex is coming, you’re just not sure exactly sure when.
A similar logic is just as easily transferred to another flashpoint in college athletics: conference realignment. I know, I know: You cringe at the very mention of the two-word phrase. It has, over the past however so many years, terminated traditional rivalries and ripped proud leagues to shreds and completely redefined the substantive meaning of league membership. Cultural and academic harmony, let alone geographic proximity, are so very blasé. If you’re not chasing football money or a bigger “footprint” or a more lucrative broadcast rights deal, you’re a real-live college athletics conference anachronism. Get with the times, man. None of this stuff is fun to talk about, and at this point you’re probably considering clicking away in fear of whatever new conference switch may have taken place.