The blatant hypocrisy of college football

The argument was so tired, it put everyone to sleep faster than a history professor.

“The BCS preserves the integrity of the regular season.” “College football is about tradition, and a playoff would ruin a lot of those traditions.”

It was all bunk, of course. The BCS was in place to protect the power conferences’ money and prestige, and everybody knew it.

Yet, BCS conference commissioners and their stooges in the media smiled and lied through their teeth like a used-car salesman, trying to get us to buy the lemon we knew the BCS to be.

College presidents and BCS commissioners laud the “tradition” of bowls and their sport, but kill of what truly makes it great: regional rivalries, such as BYU-Utah, Texas-Texas-A&M, Nebraska-Oklahoma, or The Backyward Brawl.
Photo courtesy of jamieca on flickr.

Thankfully, that lemon has broken down once and for all and the insurance company has replaced it at last with playoff — albeit one, of course, seems to protect the money and prestige of the power conferences even more.

Meanwhile, realignment is destroying the traditions that college football really is built on: fiercely contested regional rivalries.

This sport was supposed to be about tradition. And yet, nobody in power seems to bat an eyelash at letting realignment crush some of the greatest traditional rivalries the sport has known.

No more Backyard Brawl. Texas and Texas A&M not playing a rivalry that dates back to 1898? No big deal, right? Nebraska and Oklahoma went their separate ways, and now, the announcement came today from Utah Athletic Director Chris Hill that BYU and Utah would take a break from their rivalry during the 2014 and 2015 seasons.

Try as athletic directors might, these rivalries cannot be replaced. Rivalries are what has always made college football great: The passion, the split families, the water-cooler trash talk.

Look, I know Utah fans want to claim Colorado is a traditional rival and that rivalry can become heated.

I don’t buy it, not for a second.

What made the BYU-Utah rivalry great? Dynamics.

How many college football rivalries are separated by a mere 45 miles? How many college rivalries have the religion factor of the BYU-Utah rivalry, with the church school (BYU) against the state school (Utah) — many of whose fans are also LDS? How many of them are as hotly contested (with the two teams splitting the past 22 games and 12 of the last 15 games being decided by a touchdown or less)? How many of them have been around since 1896 (1922 if you ask BYU)?

Let me ask Utah fans this: How many Colorado fans do you know? How often will you have a chance to wear a Ute shirt to work to rub a win over Colorado in a coworker’s face? How many of you have family members that went to Colorado?

That is a dynamic that can never be substituted. The BYU-Utah rivalry was fierce because every fan in Utah has family, friends and neighbors who attended the rival school.

My brother and I both grew up rooting for BYU. I have had cousins, mission companions, college friends and coworkers who are Utah fans.

My next-door neighbor flies a Utah flag on game day. One of my best friends in high school recently posted a picture on Facebook of him doing the Utah finger “U” symbol.

My LDS bishop, a huge BYU fan, cracks jokes about the Utes during priesthood meeting. Utah fans in the elder’s quorum quickly respond with jabs about 54-10.

How can Utah possibly replace the BYU rivalry with Colorado when the majority of Colorado fans live 500 miles away?

At the very least, the blatant hypocrisy of college football is more obvious than it has ever been. This has never been about protecting student athletes or the integrity of the regular season or the traditions of bygone years.

This is, and always has been, about money.

And universities continue to sell their souls for the filthy lucre.

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