Like rednecks and their pickup trucks, the prevailing trend among college conferences is that bigger is always better. I would argue that in both cases, that notion in false.
Of course, it's been that way for a while, and I'm not here to try to fight it. At this point, advocating that the Big 12 should stay at 10 teams would be akin to asking the owners of Chipotle to not open any more locations.
Even though the SEC-Big 12 bowl game is more symbolic than anything else, it's a clear indication that business is booming, and the market dictates that expansion is the next logical step. Plenty of rumors indicate that interest is high, and why wouldn't it be with the way the conference has solidified itself and (hopefully) made it just a little bit more difficult for MU's Board of Curators to sleep at night?
Instead, I'm asking that all of us just make sure we remember the benefits that come with having only ten teams, where everyone actually gets to play one another and it's not that hard to keep track of all our conference foes. Cherish the glory of having a true champion and don't forget what it's like to be able to play out a full season without hearing any arguments about watered-down schedules or which of the 14 (or 16, or 18) quarterbacks deserves postseason honors.
I may be young, but I guess you could say my views on the subject of super conferences and ever-expanding leagues are rather old school. Honestly, if I had the choice and it was a viable option, I'd probably prefer to go back to the Big Eight.
Alas, that’s never going to happen. Instead, we’re headed towards huge conferences that will hopefully at least maintain some rivalries, but will no doubt eschew intimacy and true personalities in favor of massive exposure and "growing the league’s footprint."
The problems aren’t just limited to football, and for some of the league’s lesser sports, it could even substantially raise travel budgets. Not to mention the fact that athletes will be missing a lot more classes….but with the way the NCAA operates I can’t even finish that sentence without laughing.
Even when the Big 12 had 12 teams, we had years like 2007. Everyone outside of Lawrence knew Kansas was probably the league’s 4th-best team (maybe 3rd) and the Jayhawks still made the Orange Bowl (where to their credit, they represented the conference well) by avoiding UT and Oklahoma with possibly the easiest league schedule ever.
You can expect a lot more of that (plus new problems like 18-team conference tournaments) in the coming seasons, as we lose some of the values that I believe a true league should possess. Sure, it’ll be cool for a little while to have some of these new schools, but the novelty will wear off and we’ll only have the opportunity to see some of their stadiums every four years anyway.
I could even extend the argument to a macro level, as more and more teams join Division I and FBS every year. When you sit back and think about it, the idea of 340-some basketball teams and 120-some football teams competing for one national championship is kind of absurd, isn't it?*
If it weren’t for the financial aspect*, I imagine the majority of mid-majors would be happier playing for their own national championship, even if it meant sacrificing their chance of becoming the next Butler or George Mason. The odds are stacked so highly against them that it makes Aston Villa look like a true English Premier League contender.
*I defer to jonfmorse on any questions related to this topic, but I assume the money they get from annually taking beatings from the bigger schools and occasionally getting some of the postseason money makes it worth their while. It's possible some athletes would say they like having the chance to pull the upsets, but they could still play early season games and have essentially the same opportunity.
Maybe I’m being naïve or I’m just afraid of changing traditions, and perhaps in five years I’ll look back and realize this is a great idea. For now, though, as I try to get through the next 98 days before football season begins again, all this expansion talk is making me a bit sick.