The Big 10, the Big 12, the Pac 10 and our way of life

We all know the recent machinations realigning some of the major conferences in college athletics are all about money. We take cherished “amateur” sports associated with our institutions of higher learning and milk them for every dime. How quintessentially American.

I don’t actually have any particular beef with finances driving universities to seek a better deal. But I lament that these conference reorganizations tinker with the structure of this country’s social organization.

As someone who has moved around the continent, I’ve found that people — men, anyway — tend to identify and categorize themselves by college conferences. I grew up in Big 10 territory, and my concept of the Midwest was the states fielding teams in the conference.

My wife, who still hasn’t accepted the incursion of Texans into what is at least for now the Big 12, grew up in Big 8 territory.

We’ve lived many years on the West Coast, and we’re fully aware we’re in Pac 10 territory.

But now Colorado, a team based east of the Continental Divide, is joining the Pac 10? And Nebraska enters the Big 10?

It’s going to take a while for my brain to rewire itself accordingly.

In my heart, I still believe that college conferences should be such that students of one school should be able to hop in a car and drive to another campus within the conference for a football game.

I suppose Cornhusker fans are hearty enough to drive from Lincoln to Columbus and back on a three-day weekend. But I can’t see a Colorado fan having enough time to make the drive to Seattle or Berkeley.

Oh, sure, they can fly if they have enough money. But a college road trip should be a road trip.

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