One of my elders back in the day used to tell me that history didn’t repeat itself, but it sure does rhyme.
Well, that old adage can certainly pertain to the history of US Presidents when talking about the similarities between Richard Nixon and Donald Trump, but I didn’t think it pertained to sports history. Not until the last day of June, that is.
I was in Progressive Field watching the Indi…er Guardians come back on their division rival the Minnesota Twins when my iPhone tweeted out news that USC and UCLA were talking about entering the Big Ten.
Two West Coast icons, the bane of my sports rooting interests during New Year’s Day football watching. Now the two are joining the conference they used to regularly embarass at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.
In 1973, I remember watching Sam “bam” Cunningham destroy Ohio State’s vaunted defensive line by leaping for score after score. In 1975, the coach’s son — JK McKay — celebrate on his knees in a dark end zone as the Buckeyes lost a potential national championship at the buzzer.
A year later, the Buckeyes are again in position to be No. 1 with a win. But this time it’s not the Trojans being the spoiler, it was a guy named Dick Vermeil coaching a bunch of inspired UCLA Bruins.
By the way, sports teams had a habit of moving West? But on this time, two west coast icons were coming East. Talk about a reversal of fortune!
The Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants became the LA Dodgers and SF Giants after the 1957 baseball season, and turned the National Pastime into a coast-to-coast league. But the sport was never the same.
I heard one guy on the radio recently say major baseball league had been replaced by college football as a national pastime. Maybe he meant the national pastime is really sports betting, which is easier to place money down on a college football game rather than figuring out odds on the next starting pitcher.
Commissioner Rob Manfred is trying to make baseball more appealing by outlawing defensive shifts and changing the baseball. Maybe he should look into making odds!
That June 30 date may be the turning point for college football.
The fact that both USC and UCLA were willing to throw away a century of its history to chase some extra dollars for a share of a Big Ten college football television contracts shows how far college football has been corrupted by American economics and politics.
The old game, which dates back to the last century much like baseball, is going the way of the NFL.
In fact with USC and UCLA exploding the PAC-12, much like the Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma Sooners blew up the Big 12 last summer by joining the SEC, shows that big time college football has only two conferences that mean anything to bettors, er sports fans.
That means we truly have the Big 2 and the little everybody else. Hey Notre Dame, Florida State, Clemson and the University of Miami, this is your last chance to jump aboard the bandwagon before it leaves the betting kiosk.
Forget the expanded college football playoffs, forget the NCAA… we have two major conferences that can each have their own 20-team memberships and make a playoff any way they want. The two conference winners play in a game strikingly similar to the NFL’s Super Bowl. Maybe they can play it at the same venue on the same weekend!
Can anybody say parlay?
Intersectional rivalries in college football have gone the way of the landline telephone. Now Ohio State will visit the Rose Bowl every few years for a conference game.
Notre Dame, Miami, Washington and Oregon may as well join the Big Ten for the 2024 football season, and then add Florida State, Clemson, North Carolina and Virginia Tech to the SEC.
The 20 teams in each conference can split into four divisions of five teams each and we can have wild cards and six or eight-team playoffs in each conference.
The goose that laid the golden egg of bowl games now can go to the pay window and place their bets on college teams being filled with paid players. The charm of college football used to be things like loyalty, love of the game and integrity, not dollar signs if you were a player.
Now it’s name, image and likeness and more dollar signs. Let’s hope we don’t get too many corporate tattoos that huckster the products of our sponsors!