These superconferences, like the pythons gorging in the Everglades, are an invasive species. They ruin the regional feuds that are the lifeblood of college sports. What happens when Tobacco Road takes a detour? Or the Red River Rivalry dries up?
How can Boise State fans keep track of which teams they are rooting against when their Broncos are leaving the Mountain West in 2013 to join the Big West and the Big East (football only, with fellow gypsies San Diego State, Southern Methodist, Houston and Central Florida)? Except for wrestling, which is in the Pac-12.
To counteract the confusion, at least we have one team giving us clarity: Notre Dame undefeated, No. 1 and headed to Miami to play in a national title game for the first time since 1988. The Irish, unranked in the AP preseason Top 25, are the only 12-0 team (other than ineligible Ohio State) still standing after Alabama, Kansas State, Oregon and Florida tripped. Notre Dame will play the winner of Saturdays SEC Championship Game, Alabama or Georgia, in the Bowl Championship Series showdown Jan. 7 at Sun Life Stadium.
Its the feel-good story of the season, with inspirational linebacker Manti Teo recovering from personal loss to lead an iconic program to the peak.
But Notre Dames story is also very good for college footballs bottom line. Its not cheap to run a program, pay coaches $5 million salaries and share with the Marylands.
Notre Dames return means higher price tags for TV rights, sponsorships, licensing fees. Everyone associated with Notre Dames national brand benefits like the five ACC teams the Irish will play each season. South Florida will enjoy the money spent by their legion of fans.
Because the Irish are so golden, they can remain independent in football, although any conference would bend over backward to get them. With Notre Dame back at the center of a shifting landscape, viewership for the big game could break 30 million, which would set a cable TV record.
And the cheers of sis-boom-bah will be drowned out by ka-ching!