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There's been a lot of shifting across the college sports landscape.
Specifically, we're seeing a coalescing of teams around some "mega conferences." As a result, the Big Ten now has 12 teams, just like the Pac-12 and the Southeastern Conference. The ACC will soon number 14 members.
There has been talk of inflating these leagues, up to as many as 16 members.
I've been over this before. What I've not asked, however, is what should have been asked from the get go: Why?
No, I don't mean from a business standpoint. After all, there's a fairly common understanding in the world of sports that whenever a motive is questioned, the answer is always the same: money.
So, when you have Boise State (which is in Idaho) joining the Big East or Texas A&M heading to the SEC, the reason is that there is a financial benefit to those schools and to those leagues for such movement.
What I don't understand is how these conferences can exist when the member schools barely play one another.
Let's take the ACC as an example. It has a proud tradition and includes some superb schools, noted both for their academics and their athletic prowess.
What it doesn't have is a full slate of games.
The ACC, today, has 12 teams. Yet, over the course of the football season, each member plays but eight conference games (not including the conference championship game).
By my math, the conference is shorting you and me by a grand total of three games. When it expands to 14 teams, you'll be shorted even more intra-conference games.
This is akin to ordering a print of DaVinci's masterpiece "The Last Supper," and having it arrive absent the apostles John, Andrew and Thomas.
Or, it's like singing the Twelve Days of Christmas and omitting the Piping Pipers, the Turtle Doves and the Maids a' Milking.
Take a look at Virginia Tech's schedule. Over the past three seasons, the Hokies have had some gaping ACC holes in their slates. In particular, Tech didn't get to face Maryland or Florida State in regular-season play. Meanwhile, it took on the likes of Arkansas State and Central Michigan.
True, the Hokies did play powerhouse Boise State to open last season, much to their credit.
Still, there's something wrong here. Quick, over the past three seasons, which team appeared fewer times on the Tech schedule: East Carolina, Marshall or Maryland?
I know I kind of tipped my hand on that question, this being a rant and all. Still, the (somewhat) surprising answer is Maryland.
Here's one for you. Which ACC team has not been on the Hokie schedule the past three years? Why, none other than Florida State. Frankly, I'd rather see Tech play Florida State than Boise State.
This is not to knock Virginia Tech, particularly since they filled these gaps with the likes of Alabama and Nebraska (both in 2009).
I only call out the Hokies because they're the local guys. They are no worse than anyone else.
The other conferences aren't much better, if at all. The following conferences have 12 teams, apiece. Yet, the Big Ten members play eight league games apiece. The SEC also plays eight, while the Pac-12 kicks in with nine.
I've always been a fan of the Big Ten, and of Minnesota in particular.
When the Big Ten had, well, ten teams, the Gophers played nine league games, one against every member in the conference.
Nowadays, Minnesota plays the likes of Miami (the Ohio one) instead of Ohio State. Rather than playing Penn State, the Gophers took on New Mexico State (with equally sad results, I might add).
Sometimes, the wife calls me the Master of the Obvious. Well, I'll employ that mastery and make the following suggestion: Eleven of twelve games should come against fellow league members.
If nothing else (besides a lot of money), these leagues have prestige among fans of the game. They should use that status at every turn.
It's more than just a matter of math. It's good sense.