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Naperville Central High School's award-winning newspaper.

Central Times

Naperville Central High School's award-winning newspaper.

Central Times

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Column: Realignment wreckage

I will readily admit that I’m not a college football fan. Most years, I have a passing familiarity with AP’s top 25 rankings and the two or three best quarterbacks in college, but rarely will I actually watch an entire game.

But even with my surface-level familiarity, it was hard to miss when the Pac-12, one of the “Power Five” college athletic conferences, imploded with the force of a supernova.

First, USC and UCLA jumped ship to the Big Ten. Then, Colorado left for the Big 12. Even down to nine members, the Pac-12 still had some hope of surviving. Until Aug. 4, at least, when five more schools — Oregon, Washington, Arizona, ASU and Utah — left the conference.

Then, more out of desperation than anything else, Stanford and Cal left for the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). Both of those schools are located in the San Francisco Bay area. On the PACIFIC Coast. Nearly 3,000 miles away from the Atlantic Coast. 

This utterly mind-bending move underscored the ridiculous lengths to which colleges will go for money. West coast schools USC, UCLA, Oregon and Washington all left for the Midwest-based Big Ten, which will give them between $30-60 million a year in TV revenue, according to ESPN.

That revenue, however, comes almost entirely from football: According to Yahoo! Finance, football brings in more money than the next 35 college sports combined. And all that money that Big Ten schools are getting? Almost all of it comes in through media deals for football.

Now, this all may sound rather inconsequential to you. After all, it’s just colleges chasing revenue to the point of completely abandoning regional conferences. Again, the ACC now includes teams in the San Francisco Bay area. 

But for non football sports, this realignment will come at a high cost. 

Take baseball as an example. College teams play three-game weekend series against conference opponents. Stanford and Cal now have to jump across three time zones and around 3,000 miles nearly every weekend just to play in their conference.

The new Big Ten schools, too, will be forced to go as far as Maryland and New Jersey to play. That travel takes an immense toll on players: weekly four-hour flights and time zone jumps do no wonders for the body. 

And more than just baseball is affected. Soccer, softball and volleyball all have similar travel schedules, not to mention sports like tennis, water polo and lacrosse.

At this point, it might be too late for anything major to change, at least until 2030 when current TV deals are up and schools are free to change conferences.

Maybe, though, college conferences can take a lesson from Central’s own conference, the DuPage Valley Conference (DVC). The DVC recently agreed to merge with the Southwest Suburban Conference, ensuring each conference would have a full schedule for football. 

That merger, though, comes only for football. 

If colleges separated football from other sports to reflect the massive differences in schedule and revenue, then the issues with these mergers would be solved. Oregon could still get their $30 million from the Big Ten, while allowing their smaller teams to play regionally, lessening the burden of travel. 

Football is clearly and entirely different from every other college sport. It’s time schools started treating it that way.

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About the Contributor
Jake Pfeiffer, Editor-in-Chief
Jake Pfeiffer is a senior, entering his third year on the Central Times staff, this time as Editor-in-Chief. Jake joined CT as a sophomore because he wanted to write news, but since then he has grown to love just about every element of journalism. While it is rare to see Jake anywhere other than the CT office, occasionally you can find him captaining Central’s debate team, watching baseball, listening to a seemingly endless amount of podcasts or drowning in college applications.
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