Jenni Carlson: Realignment about cash, not the athletes

Conference realignment caused plenty of confusion and consternation during the past few weeks.
by Jenni Carlson Modified: June 22, 2010 at 3:24 pm •  Published: June 22, 2010
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photo - OSU and Oregon could have been conference foes and not just bowl opponents like they were in the 2008 Holiday Bowl.
AP photo
OSU and Oregon could have been conference foes and not just bowl opponents like they were in the 2008 Holiday Bowl. AP photo
Conference realignment caused plenty of confusion and consternation during the past few weeks.

Yet the upheaval and the uncertainty produced one other important byproduct.

Clarity.

Amid all the talk of teams switching allegiances and conferences expanding borders and dollars lining coffers, there was very little discussion about the athletes.

Remember them?

Few leaders in college athletics have during these past few weeks. The athletes have been largely forgotten in this process. What's in their best interest? What's the impact on their well-being?

Those questions were overlooked, obscured by the dollar signs dancing in so many eyes.

Leaders in college athletics love to wax poetic about student-athletes. Ask any commissioner or athletic director or coach, and they'll gush about the importance of young people at the heart of everything that they do. But no one seemed to be worrying the athletes these past few weeks.

That's because college athletics isn't about the athletes.

It's about the money.

Hold on, that's too simplistic. College athletics, after all, is more complicated than that. It has storied tradition and school pride and historical rivalries and quaint intricacies. It is about those things, too.

But more than anything, college athletics is big business, and as with all major industries, capital is king.

Conference realignment reminded us of that.

Slapped us across the face with it, really.

"I feel badly that it became so very apparent, it's about the money,” Kansas State football coach Bill Snyder told our man Berry Tramel over the weekend. "It's about the TV sets.


by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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