Let’s face it, college football is becoming one big Walmart.
Many rivalries are being forgotten. Many traditions are falling by the wayside. Networks and power conferences are turning it into a big box store.
And I have a question. Granted it’s a big-picture question, which none of the network nor power conference heads seem to care about, but a big-picture question nonetheless:
Why, when you want so many to tune in, are you tuning out and turning off so many fans?
I get that the power commissioners are charged with stuffing cash into their league member’s coffers. But does anyone care about the greater good of the game?
I ask that you take a beat, guys. Stop counting your money for a sec. And consider all the fans you’re turning out and turning off.
Through expansion and discussed alliances that squeeze out most of the Big 12, you’re disgusting college football fans of Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas Tech and, yes, West Virginia.
We’re talking about millions of college football fans in the Midwest (and East) being stiff-armed and shoved aside.
Does that make sense? Why not include rather than exclude those schools? Is there any plan to grow the game, rather than individual conferences?
In politics, they redistrict. In college football, do the same. But for goodness’ sake don’t stab your college brethren – and their fans — in the backs.
I went back to 2019 attendance figures. WVU was 27th nationally, drawing 335,443 fans, while Oklahoma State was 28th with 328,902. The Big 12 was third as a conference in attendance. If you subtract those attending games at defectors Texas and Oklahoma, 2,715,464 fans (339,433 average) went to the other eight stadiums.
That’s just folks that went to the stadiums. And let’s be real: How many fans of a team actually go to the stadiums? Millions of fans of the leftover Big 12 schools never set foot in one yet tune in and cheer loudly.
It’s just nonsensical. Why exclude those people? Why not INCLUDE their teams. You’ll still have the big-ticket non-conference games that’s all the rage.
By the way, yes, I’ve seen the data released by Zach Miller of Medium. It ranked the most watched college football programs. No. 19 was Oklahoma State. No. 24 was TCU. And at No. 30 was West By God.
Of course, it’s already been riddled with gunshot. When someone asked Andy Staples (a good guy, by the way) how WVU can be shut out of power conferences, he referenced the three Mountaineer games from 2015-19 that drew more than four million viewers: those against Texas, Oklahoma and Virginia Tech.
“If I had to guess how a Power 5 commissioner might answer that question,” wrote Staples on Twitter, “I’d say that’s how.”
Again, the view, Staples knows, from the commissioners would be to find reasons to exclude, rather than include.
I think through this process the only media personality I’ve seen even look at the big picture is The Sporting News’ Mike DeCourcy, back on July 22.
When news broke of the SEC taking in Texas and Oklahoma, he wrote about commissioner Greg Sankey.
“If Sankey wants to do what is best for college sports, though, and not merely for a bigger SEC getting a bigger check from its TV partners, he should just say no,” DeCourcy wrote. “College sports is not better with the remaining eight Big 12 members either searching for a new home or scrambling for some degree of relevance. There are serious athletic programs in that group, from Kansas and its basketball juggernaut to the Texas Tech football program that gave us Super Bowl champion Patrick Mahomes and a 2019 NCAA Tournament finalist in hoops.
“College sports is not better with the SEC so overloaded with elite brands that such programs as Ole Miss and Mississippi State are consigned to perennial insignificance. It’ll be less fun for a lot of programs whose fans will have to adjust to programs that no longer win like they once did. It may not seem like much, but it’s a long way from 7-5 to 5-7.”
Indeed, it will be a lot less fun for those schools. It will be a heck of a lot less fun for the Big 12 schools being excluded, not included.
And I promise many of those fans will not only be turned off but will tune out.
+ + +
Mitch Vingle covered sports in West Virginia for 38 years. Follow Mitch on Twitter at @MitchVingle and be sure to check out the rest of Wheelhouse Creative’s website for your marketing and advertising needs. If interested, call us at 304-905-6005.