Dear College Football (and other sports too!),
We, the fans, owe you an apology. We let you down, and now that things are on the precipice of dramatically changing for the course of forever, our failures are becoming clearer and clearer.
USC and UCLA are leaving the PAC-12 Conference and will now be in the same conference as Penn State and Rutgers. Yes, the University of Southern California and UC-Los Angeles are now in the same conference with Pennsylvania State University and New York's Rutgers.
The teams are going to make a bajillion dollars in media rights and it is a big step towards the consolidation of college football power. Admittedly, the games will make for fantastic TV.
But it doesn't really feel right, does it? Does UCLA strolling into Maryland University for a potential conference game feel right? Does USC taking on Purdue on a semi-regular basis feel normal? It doesn't - at all.
It also doesn't feel right that Nebraska isn't in the Big 12 playing against the teams from Texas. And it doesn't feel right that Colorado travels to the Pacific Northwest more regularly than they travel to Oklahoma. It just doesn't make sense.
And yet, this is the reality that we have been living in for the last decade, and in the decade to come, it's only going to get weirder.
We, the fans, allowed this to happen. And the damage that it did to you, college football, is significant.
Many of the rivalries are gone. Many of the traditions are gone. Everything that has been done has been done in the name chasing more money. And we, the fans, convinced ourselves that was all a good thing.
We convinced ourselves that our favorite school investing in lavish facilities made sense. We loved the locker rooms and we made them go viral on social media. We convinced ourselves that unless our team had the most expensive resources then our team would suck - and we demanded that you find more money to invest more into your program.
We demanded immediate results. Coaches had three-year leashes and if the results didn't match our expectations, we wanted that coach fired. We didn't even bat an eye at multi-million dollar buyouts. In fact, in many cases, that's exactly what we asked you to do.
How could you not chase the money?
We demanded stadium upgrades. We demanded increased investments into technology. We wanted you be on TV more and then demanded that you make the stadium-experience as close to TV as you could. We wanted scoreboards. We wanted Wi-Fi. We wanted cheap ticket prices.
We wanted everything.
And everything costs money.
Now, you certainly wanted more money yourselves, there is no doubt about that. You had your own level of greed, but so did your fans. And we apologize for our role in the money chase.
It goes beyond money, though.
We demanded a playoff and said we weren't satisfied with the bowl systems.
We rejected the notion of automatic-qualifiers into that playoff because we wanted to see the best teams play.
And now, the best teams are aligning with themselves. Their future looks a lot more like the NFL than the college football we were once in love with.
Those on the outside? Their futures look as foggy as they have ever looked. They are on the outside looking in - again.
So much of this is our fault. We justified these actions my starting to believe that we cared about the tens of millions of dollars in media rights. We kept tuning into the playoff (and watching the same 10 teams year after year) because we held onto to the mostly-make-believe hope that one day our teams could get there too - that the system was fair for all.
Along the way, we lost sight of what made college football the sport that we love.
You will still exist going forward and we will still tune in. We will still care and we will still want the best for you, but there is no denying that things are starting to feel very different.
And for the rest of college sports, well, we're sorry that you've been forsaken entirely. We are sorry that future UCLA girl's basketball players will have to fly out of LA on a Wednesday to get to Penn State for a Thursday game and then make their way to Bloomington, IN on Saturday. How can that athlete be expected to perform in school when she will be on the road for 60% of school days during the season?
We're sorry for trying to make The Rumble In The Rockies a thing. It was stupid.
We're sorry for thinking that we could replicate regional rivalries and the lure of bowl games with a few TV match ups that will draw big ratings. I mean, the Rose Bowl has lost its luster - or at least it's looking like things are headed that way.
We never turned off the TV or stopped buying the ticket. We never stopped to ask ourselves if the LED lights in the locker room were really worth the end of 100-year old rivalries. We never thought about the ramifications of enabling two conferences to expand at will and gobble up future playoff spots. Hell, we don't even have a long-term contract for that playoff - so even new traditions might be a thing of the past.
At the end of the day, we're sorry. We've played a big role in everything that has happened. It looks like it might be too late to revert back to the past. But hopefully, one day, we can get there.
Until then, we'll still be watching and we'll still be caring - it just hurts a little more than it used to.
College football fans everywhere.