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Conference realignment has become an increasingly large topic of conversation in the college football world.
Major structural changes within the NCAA to name, image and likeness rights have played a significant role in the dramatic shift within conferences.
Universities now (correctly) realize that presenting the strongest possible case to high schoolers with regards to maximizing their NIL potential will be extremely valuable going forward.
Opportunities in the SEC or future Big 10 could be significantly more appealing than in the Pac-12 or Big 12.
At a recent press conference, Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy shared some of his thoughts on what that means for the future of college football and college athletics in general.
Most importantly, he correctly identified that the geographical and financial realignment means that “the traditions of college football are gone.”
Gundy also said that college football is now a “big business,” and that the decision makers in athletic departments and university administrations have to “adapt and change or get out of the game:”
The USC and UCLA move specifically influenced his statements, as he says the shift is even more clear now “than it was two weeks ago.”
He also correctly pointed out that the people making these decisions are “more interested in long term financial security than they are in traditions.”
Gundy is right, and he seems to understand the necessary balance between being “old school,” as he says, and understanding the business side of college football.
Tradition is perhaps more important to college football than it is to another other sport besides baseball. But paying the bills is necessary to keep the traditions going in the first place.
There have already been seismic shifts in the geographic and competitive landscape of college athletics, and many more will inevitably follow. But Gundy realizes that there isn’t much he or anyone else can do about it.
The game is changing, so traditions will have to change too.