Conference jumping. It’s the latest trend hitting the world of college sports. Perhaps it will one day become an official Olympic sport, featuring slightly more polyester pants than golf and certainly less coordination and nose plugs than synchronized swimming. Showing no respect for traditional conference alignments, or 5th grade geography teachers for that matter, colleges are switching league affiliations from coast to coast on Boise taters and Texas State toast. Quite possibly, U-Haul may want to begin sponsoring bowls at this rate.
Remember the good ol’ days when the Big Ten actually had that many teams and the folks at the Big East actually owned a compass? Well those times are as outdated as Bear Bryant’s houndstooth hat. Today, universities have begun to mislead a generation of youths. If Lewis and Clark had only possessed foresight they might have been able to smell the salts of the Pacific-10 at around Boulder or Salt Lake City and done a 180 instead of schlepping all the way up the Oregon coast. Sacagawea would not have minded. In fact, she might have been able to show Larry Scott that Utah is not on the Pacific.
The practice of sports teams misguiding America has been a long-standing phenomenon. The professional circuit has provided plenty of canon fodder for those non-Magellan types. Nope, no running of the bulls through Millenium Park, I’ve never seen royalty in Sacramento, if anyone spots a lion in Detroit, it will probably be toothless (and possess no ability to hold onto the football). If that’s jazz they’re playing in Utah, then John Coltrane missed the boat. You can call the folks in the Tampa area what you will, but swashbuckling isn’t the first word that comes to my mind. Apparently, a clipper is either a type of old ship or a mediocre basketball player. If it’s the former, at least there are plenty of lakes in the LA area on which to float, right?
In a similar vain, college football teams are picking up stakes and moving without having so much as a map, or common sense, on hand. There was a time when many people believed the Earth was flat, so it is probably not too much of a reach for modern-day college football fans to envision a college team from the Lone Star State calling itself a Big East institution. It’s just a matter of time before the cries of “East Coast bias” are elicited in a Texas drawl. Anyone know where I can get a good bowl of clam chowder in Fort Worth? That move means the conference now has somewhere in the neighborhood of about 600 basketball teams.
Fresno State is moving to the Mountain West Conference, affirming the widely held belief that a mountain in your backyard is not a prerequisite for membership. Colorado heads to the Pac-10 next year, and who can wait for those annual collegiate beer pong matchups between the folks in Boulder and Tempe. The only intrigue between those two meeting on a football field is whether the two teams’ point totals will be higher than the collective blood alcohol level of Arizona State’s fraternity row.
Certainly if a globe doesn’t fit in the holiday stocking of these conference commissioners, perhaps an abacus will do. These leagues gave it the old college try and missed both wide right and left (the Boise two-step). The Big Ten has spent the last 20 years miscounting worse than the Palm Beach County Canvassing Board. Penn State joined the league of New Math in 1990. Since then, there have been 11 teams in a league called the Big Ten, which has an 11 etched into its logo. If that didn’t make you Boomer Sooner, the league will add to its decades of fuzzy math when Nebraska joins the conference in 2011. Goodbye, Big 12. Hello, Big 12? Slightly Bigger 10? Big 10 Give or Take? Biggest 10? Big 10 + 2? Big 10 to the Max? That leaves us with one conference sporting an identity problem and another in denial. If you’re keeping score at home, folks, the Big 12 now has 10 and the Big Ten has 12.
Forget everything your teachers taught you in school (that may be a lot easier for some of you). A college in St. Louis competes in the Atlantic 10. Creighton (located in Omaha, Nebraska) is moving to the West Coast Conference in women’s rowing because it’s just no fun to row, row, row your boat gently down a patch of dry land or corn stalks. Boise State is leaving the wilderness of the WAC, so it can get the BCS recognition it deserves playing in Albuquerque, Fort Collins, and Laramie. Amid all the mishigas of the ongoing conference kerfuffle shuffle, you thought you finally had everything figured out, all the pieces put into place. And then, the (Denver) pioneers go and follow everyone else…Google+