Scooter Hobbs column: Insanity not likely to stop

Published 1:09 pm Sunday, July 3, 2022

Maybe college football was just waiting for its Hollywood branch to chime in.

But it was inevitable.

Southern Cal and UCLA are joining the Big Ten … and college football has officially jumped the shark.

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Or who knows? Maybe it was The Fonz just getting the the motorcycle warm.

Maybe it gets worse. More ridiculous. More outlandish than even a college conference stretching from sea to shining sea while skipping right over an entire time zone.

At least maybe it solves the Big 12’s identity crisis. We can just call it the Fly Over Conference.

Yet Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren is being applauded and mobbed like Lindbergh landing in Paris.

Well done! Well done!

Well …

Pardon the rant. Sorry to stand in the way of “progress.” But right now I just want all of them to shut up and get off my lawn and just leave college football alone. At least give it some room and time to take a deep breath while figuring out how it survives the names, images and likeness, transfer portals and collectives run amuck with no rules and nary a guard rail.

Oh, you’re going to give me that all-knowing smirk, rub your fingers together and say, “Follow the money, dummy.”

Of course it is. Pure greed. But does that make it good for the game?

I don’t think so.

And it’s probably not over. Probably just getting started again. The SEC will probably answer shortly. It almost has to retaliate.

And don’t really credit — or blame — the commissioners.

This is just as much about Fox Sports (Big Ten) vs. ESPN (SEC) pulling the strings on their cash-cow puppets.

The networks are not interested in the game. All they want is “inventory.”

So the future of college football is turning into a 1960s-style Cold War, with the two super powers staring at each other with one finger on the red button.

Others could get caught in the crossfire.

What if it turns out to be the old catch-phrase, Mutually Assured Destruction?

The SEC started this latest round last year with the Oklahoma-Texas force-fit, and now, for sure, it has to answer. It has to one-up the Big Ten’s cannonball splash.

SEC Football Media Days is looming in two weeks and perhaps the league is truly thinking outside the box in this search for more, more and still more sports gold and silver. Maybe it will be the Mother of all Friday afternoon news dumps — the SEC could announce that it is adding Real Madrid and Manchester United to its brood.

Wouldn’t shock me. Nothing would anymore.

TV markets, you know. Can’t get enough of them. Grab, gobble and devour.

And maybe, just maybe, I’ll admit that this could benefit the schools, their bottom lines at least.

But how is the game itself helped? More importantly, how do the loyal fans, from whence all this largesse originates, benefit?

They don’t.

Even if it stops now — and it won’t — you’ve got 16 teams each in the SEC and Big Ten.

You see where we’re headed, right?

What’s the difference in that and the NFL model of 16 teams for the NFC and AFC?

Much of the lure and beauty of college football is that it’s not the NFL — yes, the same folks who once brought you New Orleans and Atlanta in the NFC West and Dallas still in the NFC East.

There’s a place for both, of course, but maybe not if you keep blurring the lines while armed with less talent and more inexperience.

All you’ve got is NFL Light.

And, again, as we’ve already been warned, they probably aren’t done yet.

When does it stop? With 18 teams? Or 20? Maybe 30?

Much of the college game is built on conferences and the regional pride they promote, the rivalries they spawn, the trash-talking they incite.

Sorry, but these aren’t conferences anymore. They’re just big, fat, greedy conglomerates eyeing their next takeover targets for the next cash grab.

UCLA and Purdue, for random example, have no more in common than do Red Lobster restaurants and Play-Doh, even though both are under the General Mills corporate umbrella.

The sweet spot was probably 12 teams to a conference, with two divisions (now a dirty word for some reason) leading to wonderful championship games (which also, for inexplicable reasons also seem to be falling out of favor).

The SEC struggled to schedule when it went to 14, and even now it seems like half the casual fans don’t realize that Missouri is a member.

Who knows what happens with 16?

But it won’t feel much like the college football experience anymore. And, remember, they’re likely not done watering it down with this insanity.


Scooter Hobbs covers LSU

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