Home > Off Topic > Pitt, WVU, and the NCAA

Pitt, WVU, and the NCAA

“Do you want Pitt and West Virginia to try to continue the ‘Backyard Brawl’ after Pitt moves to the ACC”


That was the question offered to fans yesterday on 93.7’s afternoon drive talk show Seibel Starkey and Miller. The generally unlistenable four hour show known for taking oodles of phone calls from boring listeners with all manner of bizarre takes on the hosts’ Daily Question had become even more ridiculous with this topic. I listened for 15 minutes and heard eight callers offer the same eight opinions. Yes, of course they wanted the rivalry to continue. What fan of Pitt or West Virginia football would not want to see that rivalry game continued?


But the game that Pitt and WVU fans have grown accustomed to seeing since 1991 will not be the same game in three years when Pitt becomes a member of the ACC and West Virginia lands in whatever leftover conference will take them. It is impossible to say for sure which schools will be in what conferences or even what conferences will exist in 2014-2015. But it seems likely that the Big East will either wither on the vine or be fused with the remnants of other conferences that have seen their landscapes altered by the winds of change sweeping through collegiate sports.


It appears that what will be left is four “Superconferences” of anywhere between 16 and 20 teams, and a gaggle of smaller conferences littered with the remaining schools who did not receive invitations to one of these Superconferences. After reportedly being rejected by both the SEC and the ACC it looks like West Virginia will be one of those left behind.


When this happens the whole of collegiate sports will be spun on its axis. Division 1, Div. 1-AA, or the Football Bowl Subdivisions will have little meaning. Sure, WVU and Pitt may still be part of the FBS (for as long as that idea survives), but in no universe will West Virginia ever be able to hang with Pitt again. Pitt will have substantially more money and television exposure than WVU, paralyzing the Mountaineers’ ability to recruit top-level talent. The Backyard Brawl will become about as exciting as Ohio State vs. Akron.


The concept of the Superconference makes me wonder what will become of the NCAA. After reading Taylor Branch’s unreal takedown of the organization in October’s Atlantic Monthly, it is nearly impossible to maintain the idea of the NCAA being a vital organization. Branch quite convincingly argues that the NCAA is scarcely more than a cartel earning money on the backs of its unpaid labor (the athletes) without offering them basic rights. The NCAA has convinced everyone it must exist in order to enforce the rules of amateurism, but as it becomes clear that the NCAA is more interested in selective enforcement of these rules (or blatantly sidestepping its own rules to line its pockets) there has been serious backlash in the form of several lawsuits that threaten the existence of the organization altogether. (This is a very simplistic and incomplete version of events. I highly recommend you carve out an hour of your day and read Branch’s article. Even if you aren’t big into collegiate sports it will blow your mind).


The bottom line is the NCAA isn’t needed. If enough schools decided they wanted to splinter off and start their own governing body for collegiate sports — say, the 64 schools that will eventually make up the four 16-team Superconferences — they could do so. They could make plenty of cash by negotiating their own television rights (which everyone will want because these 64 teams will be the premier football teams in the nation). Further, they could have their own college football championship system, eschewing the maligned BCS for the true playoff system fans have wanted for years.


It could be a long way off, but it sure seems like where we’re headed.

Categories: Off Topic Tags: , ,
  1. Tommy H
    September 21, 2011 at 12:47 pm

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