Scooter Hobbs column: Going to need more than programs

Published 10:27 am Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Let the Talkin’ Season begin.

And, if possible, it’s more complicated and confusing than ever.

Basically, this upcoming college football season is what happens when the schools get their own transfer portal, so to speak, and it all blows up into a wicked game of musical chairs.

Email newsletter signup

The big change is the College Football Playoff, which expands to 12 teams this season with one less power conference to appease, four instead of five.

But where are you going to find the dozen playoff teams?

Some of them better have left forwarding addresses.

It seems almost inevitable.

At some point, some itchy-footed player, probably frustrated over the way he was being misused, is going to hop into the portal thingie to bolt elsewhere, only to find that where he thought he was going ain’t there no more.

Oh, the intended campus may be there, at least literally.

But, figuratively, it’s a whole new ball game.

You no longer need just a program roster to sort things out.

You’d better pack a good road map, or at least you could if such unfoldable antiques still existed. So get yourself a high-powered GPS instead.

The Southeastern Conference will officially “welcome” — although that might not be the proper term — Oklahoma and Texas into its insane asylum next week at SEC Media Days in, of all places, Dallas.

Somehow that just doesn’t sound right, but is pretty typical of a national malaise.

The whole college football landscape has gone all topsy-turvy, upside down, somewhat crossways and, from sea to shining sea, decidedly geographically challenged and as numerically ignorant as ever.

So if our young, wide-eyed transfer, for instance, thought he was going to “take my talents” to the Pac-12, he’s in for a rude awakening.

As far as we know, Southern Cal and UCLA are still in Los Angeles, but the Pac-12 no longer exists.

The self-styled “Conference of Champions” officially vaporized on July 1, but it had been reduced to crumbs and morsels (Oregon State and Washington State) ever since college baseball season ended.

Those Beavers and Cougars, the losers in the offseason musical chairs, are the orphans in this madcap realignment.

They have been reduced to settling for something called a “scheduling agreement” with the Mountain West Conference, while their other sports have some equally vague handshake with the West Coast Conference.

Washington and Oregon followed the two California schools to the Big Ten, which now has 18 teams and is probably still accepting applications.

The rest of the old Pac-12 also tossed logic to the ditch before scattering to and fro.

Stanford and Cal Berkley, both a stone’s throw from the Pacific Ocean, are now in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The ACC also welcomed Southern Methodist from the American Athletic Conference.

That brings the ACC up to 17 teams, although that number doesn’t include Notre Dame, which has one of those scheduling agreements with the league, but the Irish only play for the conference championship during pandemic seasons.

The real speculation at the ACC’s media days in Charlotte, North Carolina, however, was wondering, how is the league faring with its two malcontents?

While the three ACC newcomers are excited to get in, two mainstays are suing the league to get out. That’d be Florida State and Clemson, who are upset that, as it stands, it would cost a large fortune in exit fees, maybe north of $500 million, to leave the ACC before 2036.

Meanwhile, the Big 12, traditionally based in Texas and the Midwest, is having its Media Days in — where else? — Las Vegas, which I think is still somewheres in Nevada.

Typical of the oddities of mass realignment, the odds-on preseason favorite this year will be Utah — which wasn’t even in the Big 12 last year.

The Utes were one of four Pac-12 exiles to find safe harbor, along with Arizona, Arizona State and Colorado.

So if you’re keeping score at home, the Big 12 subtracted two (Texas and OU) and added four and ended up with 16.

But what happens in Vegas just might stay in Vegas — namely, the numerically insignificant Big 12 name.

The media festivities did, in fact, open amid rumors that the conference is considering selling its naming rights to the highest bidder— and we’re not talking about naming rights to, say, the conference title game or media days, but the name of the conference itself, the whole shebang.

Yes, the Big 12 Conference could become, for lack of a better example, the Poulan Weedeater Conference presented by Bad Boy Mowers.


Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at