Realign our conferences but don't mess with important stuff

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Here in Kentucky, the position on restructure is a little bit different.

By Steve Doyle

One of the first things Barack Obama mentioned when he was elected president – even when he was running – was that he wanted to see college football come up with a formula to select a national champion from among its largest schools.

Forget health-care reform, defending our nation’s something in the Middle East and finding a way to keep people working and eating and buying luxury cars.

This the important stuff, this is what we live and die for. This is college football, and an eternally inadequate and broken system needs some presidential guidance to be repaired.

If Rick Perry gets the nomination and beats Obama in 2012, you can bet it will be because of the endorsement of the Longhorn Network, not the Tea Party.

You want votes, you go the Texas and talk football. You want to win, you talk to the teams whose fans die if they don’t win.

There was a report somewhere that Obama did send the Bipartisan College Football Championship Stimulus Reform Plan to Congress, but the measure never made it out of committee because a Senator from an Atlantic Coast (Conference) state wouldn’t vote in tandem with a Senator from the Pacific (10). And a Georgetown alum was so angry about Pitt backstabbing the Big East Conference, there was no way to have a coalition.

That’s the way college football works – or doesn’t work.

All the little schools with the same problems – except real money to spend – figure this out, but the big schools hide behind tradition (ha) and the pressure on the lives of their precious student-athletes (louder ha).

In fact, the heavy hitters of big-time college football have managed to derail the entire discussion by deciding to rearrange themselves.

My neck has been twisting like a bobblehead these past few weeks as I’ve watched those who are firebranded into that world of college football wring their hands about the futures of their precious teams/conferences/sport.

Universities are switching allegiances with an alacrity and audacity generally reserved for  a teenager who goes to a dance with one partner and leaves with another. Sometimes, you just can’t wait to take a better deal, you know?

And why should the date you dumped know what you’re doing? Let her find her own ride home. Just take your best shot and to heck with contracts, tradition and even, in some cases, pure common sense.

Even if you’re not a sports fan, the whole thing has to be somewhat amusing.

I mean, where else but in the sometimes mathematically and geographically challenged world of college football would you have 12 teams playing in the Big 10 and 10 teams playing in the Big 12?

Texas Christian, which last I knew was in Fort Worth, now is in the Big East. Heck it’s not even east of Dallas.

Utah is in the Pacific Choose-A-Number Conference, and Texas A&M is headed to the Southeastern Conference, though it is at least in somewhat southeast Texas. The Catholics and the Mormons don’t want to play ball with anyone.

Really, I don’t care, except I don’t think it would be very cool for four or five conferences of 16 teams to emerge and then secede from the NCAA and cause all sorts of disruption with what’s really important.

Because this is Kentucky, where the words “big-time college football” are grouped only on the “visitors’” side of the scoreboard. Not much big-time in beating Central Michigan and losing to a Florida school few other than Isiah Thomas ever heard of.

No, what’s important here is basketball. The real game.

Face it, there is nothing in college football – no bowl game, no alleged Bowl Championship Series title game, nothing – that compares to the real human drama and maddeningly wonderful days in March of the NCAA Tournament.

And, yes, it selects a champion from a lot more schools than the 80 or so that carp about the football playoff. No player has failed calculus because of the time commitment  (because few of them ever took calculus), and the nearly 7-month basketball season could never be too long.

Tthe really wonderful thing is that our beloved schools can compete with – and even are – the “big boys.” Texas and Oklahoma hold sway in football, to be sure, but Kentucky has more NCAA basketball titles and than the whole Big 12 (er, 10, or whatever  their current league is).

So, speaking for Kentuckians far and wide, you football schools go do whatever you want, but you start messing with basketball season, and we may have to summon the Boone brothers to lead a bit of a raid.

Obama will provide us with stimulus cash to do it.