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The Breakdown: Fast-food ribs and super conferences

BRYCE EVANS
summit daily news
Summit County, Colorado
Sports editor Bryce Evans
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Something fairly disturbing has happened. I’m not sure why or how, but when I heard it, it made me cringe.

In case you haven’t heard: Burger King is now offering ribs on its menu.

Scary, huh? Somehow, I think the old rule of barbecue (low and slow) is going to be lost on these “flame-broiled” hunks of pork. I just can’t imagine a scenario where I’d think getting ribs at a fast-food burger place sounds even close to a good idea.

I just couldn’t do it.

It’s a burger place, you know? Why try to reinvent your menu by adding something that clearly doesn’t belong? Just because it’s new doesn’t mean it’s good.

I guess my point here is that change isn’t always such a great thing; sometimes it’s just plain scary to think about.

And the reason I bring this up? Well, I can’t help but think about the fate of college football while seeing the creepy “King” from BK holding a paper carton full of baby backs.

(Note: Yes, I am trying to make a correlation between one of America’s most popular sports and some fast-food barbecue. It’ll make sense – at least, I hope it will.)

As anyone with a TV, Internet access or a good ol’ fashioned newspaper can tell you, it appears the Big 12 Conference is getting hijacked. The Pac-10 is (reportedly) going to offer six Big 12 teams an invite to join the often-forgotten-about West Coast league. The Big Ten, meanwhile, is hoping to snag a few Big 12 schools as well (and maybe a couple from the Big East). All of the rumors include Texas – and the Pac-10 supposedly wants the Buffs to come along, too,

Now, as someone who grew up watching Big Ten sports in the Midwest (and was on a Pac-10 team in college), a part of me says it would be nice to have my two favorite leagues rise back to the top of the national scene.

That’s a small part, though.

Because, when you actually think about it, there’s nothing good that comes out of this – that is, unless you’re a president of one of these school looking to add some commas and zeroes to your revenue numbers.

You see, despite what anyone may try to tell you, creating these so-called super conferences has nothing to do with making the game more competitive or giving fans a better experience. It’s all about the money offered from the potential TV contracts and bowl-game revenues. (The Big Ten’s own channel – the Big Ten Network – gave each of the league’s 11 teams checks for more than $20 million dollars last year. The Pac-10 would hope to create a similar channel if the merger went through.)

However none of this is going to help the game.

First off, this doesn’t create a better competitive environment. A league that has Texas, Oklahoma, USC, UCLA, Oregon, Oklahoma State and even Texas Tech may sound exciting on paper. But with two eight-team divisions in the league (that’s what the Pac-10 is supposedly proposing) hardly any of these teams will play each other.

And people have complained for years that the current state of college football doesn’t allow for any underdog teams to make a title game. If these league shifts take place, you can forget about it ever happening. Who cares about the Mountain West, MAC or even the Big East when you have three super conferences (Pac-10, Big 10 and SEC) with every single national power in them?

(Note: This doesn’t even take into account the schools, previously in a major conference, like Kansas or Kansas State, that are all of a sudden thrown into an irrelevant conference and basically left for dead.)

Even if the games in these leagues could potentially be more exciting, the new conferences will never be better for true fans. You think Texas students are going to road trip to Seattle for a showdown with Washington? Or even to L.A. for the Longhorns to play USC? That’s 1,379 miles from Austin to the Land of Troy.

While these moves might look good for a bank account – the way a $5 slab of ribs might – it’s going to have an ugly aftermath (as I assume eating those ribs would, too).

Really, if I had the choice between these super conferences and microwaved pork slathered in crummy sauce, well, let’s just say the long-term effects of the ribs sound more appealing.


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