Column by Brian Hoffman – Sports Editor
It seems like sooner or later, we’re going to have just one legitimate conference of 40 or 50 schools in the NCAA, and then we’ll basically have no conferences at all.
When the “Big Ten” added the University of Southern California and UCLA to their conference a couple of weeks ago, it will give them 16 schools when the two California teams officially start play in 2024. Obviously, that’s more than ten and has been, so what problem would it be to change the name? Maybe of the 16 schools, only ten are considered “BIG.” Is Rutgers a big school?
The Southeastern Conference(SEC) currently has 14 schools; word has it they’d like to add a few more to keep up. Raiding our local Atlantic Coast Conference seems possible, although “local” is a stretch since schools like Pittsburgh and Boston College joined. Do you remember when all the teams were somewhat in proximity to the “Atlantic Coast?”
Virginia Tech fans have to be sweatin’ this one out. When the Hokies joined the ACC, they assured Tech a great schedule of football and basketball games every year, but what if the “Big Ten-ish” and SEC start enticing the likes of Clemson, North Carolina, Florida State, and others. The Hokies could be left with a football schedule of the Akrons and the Old Dominions instead of the Notre Dames and the Clemsons. Unless, of course, the Hokies can hitch their wagon to one of the two ever-increasing mule trains that threaten to ruin college sports as we know it.
Of course, Stevie Wonder can see this is all about football. My question is, will USC and UCLA play the other Big Ten schools in ALL the sports? No other sport makes as much money for the school as football. Basketball is next, but sports like cross country and field hockey most likely don’t bring in anything at all. And, with Title 9, that could be a problem.
With that in mind, I googled Penn State’s field hockey schedule. The Nittany Lionesses have non-conference trips to Virginia, William & Mary, Lafayette, and Princeton, with the longest trip being about a five or six-hour bus ride to Williamsburg. However, they have eight games against Big Ten opponents, including games at Iowa and Michigan State and home games against Northwestern and Michigan. Those are pretty long trips for teams that don’t bring in any money.
Enter two teams from California. According to my “Google Maps,” the distance from State College, PA, to Los Angeles is 2,570 miles. That’s a 38-hour drive by car with no traffic, and add some hours by bus. Of course, you wouldn’t be taking a bus, so if Penn State plays USC or UCLA in one of several non-revenue sports, it will entail a plane flight and hotel expenses.
I imagine the Big Ten could split the conference into two eight-team divisions but are you really in the same “conference” if you never play teams in the other division? And you have to be very careful with the Title 9 stuff. Why would the Penn State football team fly to games in LA, and the women’s volleyball team would not get to make those trips?
I really don’t like the way these two conferences are sucking the others dry. Soon all the teams capable of winning the football championship will be stacked in just two conferences if it’s not like that already.
Maybe it’s the conservative side of me, but I liked things the way they were with a bunch of conferences, geographically compatible with traditional rivals, and a sense of stability. That scenario may soon be gone forever.
GRINER’S IN A TOUGH SPOT
I feel bad for Brittney Griner and would love to see her back home, but I wonder what she was thinking when she took cannabis oil to Russia? Did she ever see the movie “Midnight Express?”
Midnight Express is a 1970 movie about the true experience of Billy Hayes, who wrote a book about his arrest and incarceration after being caught with hashish in Turkey. Just watching the movie made my heart beat fast as the Turkish police searched his bags. Hayes was sent to a hellish prison for a long sentence but eventually escaped. After watching that movie, I vowed never to smuggle hash into Turkey. Maybe IN a turkey, but only in this country and with a medical waiver.
I know kids make mistakes, but Brittney Griner is 31 years old and should have known better. You don’t take that kind of chance in foreign countries, especially in a place like Russia. Does she watch the news?
Also, why was she going there in the first place? The Russians had already invaded Ukraine, so she had to know that Americans were going to be especially scrutinized. Apparently, she made a lot of money playing basketball in Russia, but what good is that money doing her now?
I find it strange that these golfers who have signed up for the LIV tour are being criticized for taking money from Saudi Arabia. Still, I haven’t heard anyone question why Griner was making money in Russia while the Russians were wiping out entire cities of innocent Ukrainian people.
Now she’s written a letter to President Biden begging for help to be released from prison. Maybe she should have written a letter to Biden asking him if it was a good idea to take cannabis oil into Russia while we’re sending military aid to a country they’re destroying.
Don’t get me wrong, I feel bad for Griner and would love to see her back home safe and sound playing in the WNBA. However, when you go through the gate that says “Beware of Dog,” don’t act surprised when you get bit.