The College Expansion Game… is it Risk or is it Monopoly?
Everyone talks about college football as if it was a game of Risk. Delaney and the Big 10 have the blue armies and are moving 10 of them to Kamchatka. Slive and the SEC have the red armies, and will respond by trying to take Egypt. Empire creation at its best. Of course, some of those folks then turn around and say that the Big 10 and SEC are not competing against each other. Huh–what Risk game involves cooperation? The goal is to be the last one standing. In any event, it is sad that college sports is no longer like Monopoly.
Yes, in the old days, college sports was like Monopoly. The NCAA had the Monopoly of all the properties. The value to a conference was driven not by the properties (i.e. the individual schools), but what could be done by acquiring all the similarly colored properties (i.e. forming conferences). The Big 10 was the Dark Blues, with Michigan and Ohio State. The Pac-12 was the Green properties. No matter who played in the Rose Bowl, it was special. Some conferences benefited by location–the Oranges and Reds have a little extra value because you might get sent to St. Charles Place and have to run them. This is the equivalent to the Big East having the major metropolitan areas in basketball. Or the SEC having the advantage of the key Southern, football-crazy areas. Notably the game of Monopoly made the colored properties adjacent. Indeed, being nearby your neighbors is valuable to a cohesive conference (notwithstanding the development of serious rivalries, of course). Other than Notre Dame-USC, is there any rivalry that does not involve geographic proximity? No.
Now, it’s all about a brand. You might be able to make more money combining Boardwalk and Park Place, but Boardwalk would know its valuable and not want to be dragged down by Park Place. Conferences are trying to build houses on Boardwalk and Marvin Gardens. It works because the people paying are only focusing on the relative worth of the properties they are landing on… i.e. Boardwalk is a better property than Marvin Gardens. The people paying do not realize that pairing Boardwalk with Park Place is more profitable than just Boardwalk alone. Fans of conferences want to break off pieces of other conferences. Fans of the Big 10 are drooling over North Carolina, forgetting that part of what makes North Carolina great is its rivalries with Duke, North Carolina State, and Virginia. Sure, it’s a great school–but you cannot fabricate sports rivalries. And you cannot just create a trophy and make it a rivalry.
The Confidential hopes that someday, the powers-that-be recognize that the real value in conferences was when they were geographically appropriate. Perhaps they can figure out how to allow the revenues to be apportioned as per the current conferences, but go back to allowing schools to primarily play their neighbors. More Penn State-Pittsburgh, and less Penn State-Iowa or Pittsburgh-Georgia Tech.
About the only thing we know is that, as of today, the Big East has Baltic Avenue. Oh, and Connecticut Avenue. And they had to mortgage Vermont Ave. to pay rent. The ACC seems like the railroads–nice to have & pretty well spread out, but not generating enough money to keep up. The SEC is now the Dark Blues–making plenty of money, and winning football and basketball titles regularly. Or maybe the Big 10 is the Dark Blues. It sure seems like the Big Ten Network is the “Chance” card sending someone to Boardwalk to make them wealthier every time it comes up. And Rutgers just landed on Free Parking–from rags to riches on one roll of the dice.
In your game of College Sports/Expansion Monopoly… who is who? Feel free to share your opinion.