Big 10: What Goes Around…
If Florida State, Ohio State, and Auburn all win, there will be a lot of debate as to which two teams should play in the National Championship game. If you read the Big 10 fans’ comments, there is much wailing and gnashing of teeth regarding the “system”–especially ESPN–being anti-Big 10 and pro-SEC. All one can say is… what goes around, comes around.
Again, the big argument is that there is some sort of ESPN bias in favor of the SEC and against the Big 10. This is so absurd it is ridiculous. If you look at fans’ comments from all conferences, there is some sort of emerging wimpiness where every fan base thinks that ESPN picks on it. This also applies to conferences.
ESPN reports the news and provides numerous opinions. Any reasonable person watching, listening, or reading an ESPN product can and should be able to differentiate between “news” and “opinions.” The sheer quantity of opinions mean that some are going to be negative to your hopes. Or different from your own. Grow up and get over it. And the news is just the news. If ESPN tried to pretend that the exciting Ohio State-Michigan finish was actually more exciting than the Auburn-Alabama finish, it would be wrong. The latter was historical in both impact and result.
What is really amusing, however, is the suggestion that ESPN is promoting the SEC for business purposes. Aside from the paranoia, let’s just assume this is true:
- ESPN is a business.
- It makes more money if one of its assets (the SEC product) is worth more.
- Promoting the SEC might mean more money for ESPN.
- The purpose of a business is to profit.
- It’s just business.
We just got done with 3 years of expansion that was all fueled by the Big 10 deciding that Universities should maximize money by starting a television network. More recently, with pockets already full of cash, the Big 10 did not add the best schools from a football and basketball standpoint. They added schools that increased market share (i.e. $$$)… Rutgers and Maryland. You know, teams that are a combined 5-10 in their conferences (the laughably-weak American and the much-maligned ACC). It was not about performance, it was about money. So, yeah, if you are going to point at ESPN for having a business agenda, just remember that it was the Big 10 that decided to not only venture into new deep waters of profiting off its amateur athletes, but also directly compete with ESPN.
Regardless, ESPN shows great restraint in its reporting and commentary on the Big 10. There is a very debatable argument between Auburn and Ohio State. Smart people can come down on both sides of the analysis. It is not bias. It is not backroom dealings. It is just news and opinions. Auburn-Alabama turned out to be a more exciting finish than Michigan-Ohio State. That is just the reality. And Auburn may end up overtaking Ohio State and participating in the championship game. But maybe not. Whatever happens, it will be because of human beings and computers, operating under a system of rules that the Big 10 agreed to long ago. And can anyone really point to something unfair actually coming out of ESPN? Of course not.
But even if the Big 10 wants to throw stones at ESPN, ESPN is merely playing by the same rules as the Big 10. And that is a selfish attempt to maximize profits at the expense of everything else. If the Big 10 wants to let Rice and Tulane into the Big 10, then it can take the moral high ground. Otherwise, it is all dollars and cents for the Big 10 too. What goes around comes around.