Conference Expansion Reporting: Little More Than a Bad Crime Scene

RG YohoCorrespondent IJune 7, 2010

MADISON, WI - SEPTEMBER 26: Referees meet on the field during the game between the Wisconsin Badgers and the Michigan State Spartans on September 26, 2009 at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wisconsin. Wisconsin defeated Michigan State 38-30. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

If you’re anything like me, you have to be increasingly frustrated with the endless reports of conference expansion rumors.

Of course I understand the interest in these reports. We all do.

Although the changes might not involve the particular program that you follow, it is quite likely that these new alliances may affect the entire landscape of college athletics. Moreover, any significant national change in conference affiliation will probably lead to more conference raiding and/or defections, one of which is bound to touch your favorite team or conference.

And these changes will have an impact on everyone who buys a ticket, sponsors a tailgate, or simply watches his favorite team weekly on the television.

However, the reporting on these conference shifts all sounds pretty much the same. It generally goes something like this:

Today, an unnamed source, connected to Big Two commissioner Hayden Hayes, reported that the conference is allegedly seeking to add 10 schools to the league. Although the report hasn’t been confirmed, it is believed that this announcement will possibly occur later this weekend, when the conference officials meet for their annual top secret meetings, in their underground bunker in the Nevada salt flats.

Good grief!

It’s about time that somebody acted like the policemen at a murder scene. Somebody needs to speak up and say, “Move on, folks! Go about your business. There’s nothing to see here.”

I would be lying if I told you that I also wasn’t curious about how these possible additions or subtractions will alter the future of college athletics. Like many of you, I want to know how the math will ultimately affect my team.

However, if you read the stories about these changes, the reporting all pretty much looks the same. No matter what conference official or athletic director is the topic of the story, you will see the same words or phrases endlessly repeated in the articles.

Allegedly, rumored, unnamed source, could not confirm, probably, likely, did not respond to calls, might, and supposedly—these words and phrases routinely dominate the coverage.

These stories are long on speculation and short on confirmation.

When it comes to reporting, everybody wants to get a scoop. But nobody seems to be giving us any concrete facts.

And as anyone with a pet in a city park, or someone who grew up on a cattle farm could tell you, scoops are generally used for things that don’t smell nice.

Do I think there will be eventually be conference expansions and changes in affiliation? Of course I do.

Do I believe it will happen before year’s end? I have no idea. And neither does anybody else!

That is the point of this column.

Until a school or conference actually announces a move, all of the reporting is little more than cheap gossip.

It sells papers. It increases ratings. It gets a lot of hits on the Internet. However, it does absolutely nothing to truly inform the public.

As with most things in the public arena, the people in the know aren’t talking; and the people talking, don’t know.

Conference affiliation is currently nothing more than a bad crime scene.

So, move on, folks. Go about your business. There's nothing to see here.