Maps mean nothing
In what would be yet another move to make college football less fun and more of just a minor league for the NFL, the Big Ten is considering moving its season-ending championship game to Las Vegas. The traditionally Midwest-centric league has held its championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis since the title game debuted in 2011. The contract between the Big Ten and the stadium is up after next year’s game.
“The Big 10 has asked us to submit proposals,” Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority President and CEO Steve Hill texted the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “I’m sure they have asked a number of cities. We are certainly interested, will put our best foot forward and know there is no better place for their football championship.”
If the game does move to Las Vegas, it would be held at Allegiant Stadium, home of the NFL’s Raiders. Allegiant Stadium has hosted “neutral site” games recently, so this wouldn’t be completely unprecedented, but again, the Big Ten is centered in the Midwest, so moving its title game to Las Vegas, away from most of its fan base, would purely be a money grab.
Notre Dame and BYU played each other in Las Vegas in 2022, but BYU is a regional team with a fan base in Nevada. LSU and USC will play each other there next year, but again, Los Angeles (where USC is) is at least fairly regional, as well.
The Big Ten’s query into Las Vegas naturally extends from the conference’s never-ending expansion. Both the Big Ten and SEC have been gathering up schools like a katamari ball, seemingly with the goal of controlling all of college football. Where there once were loads of conferences – no matter how “major” or “minor” – based on geography and filled with history and fun rivalries, it feels like there will soon be just two and everyone else can have fun in the sub-minor leagues.
And it’s all only because of football.
Money is everything
The Big Ten was once a really cool, Midwest conference consisting of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Iowa, Purdue, Northwestern, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, and Indiana. It added Penn State in 1990, which actually made some sense, but of course now the Big Ten had 11 teams. Nebraska joined in 2011, which again, was still within a reasonable footprint. But then came Maryland and Rutgers in 2014, simply for television markets and now, starting in 2024, the Big Ten will also include USC, UCLA, Washington, and Oregon, all west coast teams. Big Ten will be at 18 teams and span the entire country. Yay.
In the meantime, the more than 100-year-old Pac-12 (which has gone through several iterations over the century), is destroyed, having just four teams remaining. One of those schools, Stanford, has the best athletic program in the country every year, but unfortunately for them, they aren’t a football power.
The SEC, meanwhile, has been chopping up the southern-based conferences. The Big 12 has been ripped apart, but has taken in members of other conferences, including Pac-12 refugees, further devasting other leagues.
The Big East was already demolished years ago, though it recovered, even if some of the best college rivalries were killed.
The ACC is in a holding pattern (pending a meeting this afternoon) mainly because it is financially difficult for schools to leave. Florida State has recently threatened to depart unless it gets more cash, seven schools had been discussing leaving amongst themselves for the past year, there are rumors that the Big Ten has talked to Virginia and North Carolina, and four schools have voted against inviting Stanford and Cal. And none of this even touches on the awful travel that student athletes in all sports will have to deal with as conferences expand outward.
So the Big Ten championship game should just move to Las Vegas because what does it all mean at this point, anyway?