Where does the fault lie in the confusing college conference identity crisis? Is it the institutions, the NCAA or that age-old villain, greed?
While it would be true that all three have had a hand in leading college athletics to the brink of destruction, a more sinister monster is the root cause. A monster that has roamed the sidelines for more than a decade now. The Bowl Championship Series is the mighty weed that is choking off the once massive, stable oak that once seemed as indestructible as the Rock of Gibraltar.
The creation of the BCS was supposed to lead us out of the darkness of backroom deals and overall mystery that has crowned questionable national champions in football. However, it was corrupt from the beginning, having guarenteed spots to certain conferences, while leaving "the Sisters of the Poor", to quote pompous Ohio State President Gordon Gee, on the sidelines, despite better record and arguably tougher schedules.
The Boise State's and TCU's of the World were given token nods from the Powers that Be, allowed to play in BCS games, but never in the National Title Game. Thus, choking off the smaller conference teams from ever reaching their full potential.
Once it became painfully apparent that despite lawsuits and appeals to Congress to halt this system that favored the privaliged would go nowhere fast, institutions knew that to ever get a chance at college football's ultimate prize, they needed to jump ship and join one of the privaliged conferences.
The NCAA has been complicit in this in a number of ways, not the least of which by insisting that conferences needed 12 schools to hold a lucrative championship game. This created the feeding frenzy which saw Virginis Tech, Miami and Boston College join the ACC, as well as the formation of the Big 12 and the current configurations of the Big Ten and PAC 12.
Then there are the conferences themselves. Like any wild animal, it will do anything to survive and thrive. In the Big 12's case, it made a deal with the Devil to keep Texas this past summer, allowing the school and ESPN to create the Longhorn Network. By it's very existence, it was a slap in the face to the other conference members. Instead of forming a conference-wide network like the Big Ten, Texas would be allowed to promote itself, make TV money it wouldn't have to share with it's conference mates, and creating a recruiting arm that would consistently put the Longhorns ahead of any of the other schools in the conference, including Texas A&M.
In the face of this slap in the face, the Aggies were given no choice but to leave, ultimately to the SEC. The Big 12, who had already lost Nebraska and Colorado to the Big Ten and PAC 12, respectively, managed to hold together, only by rightfully firing Comissioner Dan Beebe, the architect of the Longhorn Network disaster. Still, there is a good chance Missouri will bail out on the Big 12, and become the SEC's 14th team, joining Texas A&M.
So what is the solution to college sports' current instability, which threatens it's very existence? The NCAA must take control of the situiation. A moratorium on conference jumps must be invoked. The BCS needs to be revamped or dumped completely. Until college sports begins to resemble a democracy and less like an oligarchy, this situation will continue to devolve and disintegrate.