Conference realignment is insane. Nothing matters anymore. Not tradition, rivalries, history, education, and least of all, the athletes. The only thing that matters is money. Money is the driving force behind every school leaving one conference to join another.
Money is why schools from Idaho and California are joining a conference called the Big East.
Money is why schools like Missouri, Texas A&M, West Virginia and Pitt would abandon rivalries for new homes.
Money is the reason you're going to be seeing the Illini play a conference game in New Jersey soon.
Or maybe it'll be the reason you'll see the Illini playing a conference game in Tuscaloosa. There's at least one person who thinks it should happen. Russ Mitchell of CollegeFootballNews.com wrote a column about how Illinois -- yes, our Illinois, the one this blog is about -- should be one of the next two schools the SEC goes after.
With the announcement of Maryland and Rutgers joining the Big Ten, the consolidation of the superconference shakedown continues along its inevitable path. We had predicted Missouri and Texas A&M to the SEC, and have stood by our claim they will soon be joined by the ACC's Virginia Tech and North Carolina State to balance out the conference and provide for new television markets.
However, if it's truly about money first and foremost, and it is, than the SEC should make a run at the University of Illinois.
Mitchell goes on to explain that the reason the SEC should go after Illinois is for the Chicago market. Which really isn't all that much different than the Big Ten going after Rutgers for the New York market. It doesn't matter whether people in Chicago truly care about Illinois sports. What matters is that if the SEC ever gets its own real network off the ground, the Chicago market would be a nice boon to the bank account.
He also says that Illinois should consider it because the SEC would be great for the football program and we'd immediately be a basketball power in the conference. Though I think Kentucky and Florida are both sticking around, so I'm not sure how that works out. Oh, and Missouri hasn't exactly been terrible at basketball lately, either.
The problem with these ideas is that there really is no reason for Illinois to leave the Big Ten. In 2012 the school received $25 million from the conference. That's $5.5 million more than schools in the SEC received. Now, maybe that changes in the future if the SEC gets its own conference, but at the moment, if money is what matters, then there's no reason for Illinois to abandon the B1G for the SEC.
The grass isn't greener on the other side of the fence.
That being said, thanks for thinking of us.