Sonny Dykes hears all the conference realignment talk, and understands it to a point, but feels it’s happening for all the wrong reasons.
“It’s all money related. In some ways, it’s not great for our business. I don’t know how much sense it makes for Boise or San Diego State to be playing in the Big East. To me, I view it as a negative because of the lost rivalries. You look at Texas-Texas A&M, the traditional rivalries that aren’t going to occur as a result. Some of the kids get compromised for money because now you’re dealing with extra travel, other sports are going to have to miss classes. You have a lot of headaches for your student-athletes.”
Dykes is well aware of the travel implications involved. According to an ESPN article, New Mexico State was the closest WAC game for Louisiana Tech, and that came in at 935 miles. The average distance between Tech and their WAC opponents was 1,812 miles. All that will change when they start play in C-USA in this season where all the teams are regionally located. Their furthest opponent now will be UTEP at about 890 miles. That kind of logic makes the most sense to Dykes.
“The travel is really tough on players and tough on your coaches. When you’re getting back in the middle of the night and early morning on Sunday, it has an impact on your team. To me, college football is as popular as any sport in our country. I just think it’s sad we’re screwing with it as much as we are because I don’t think we have to. It’s a great product. It’s stood the test of time, and it’s stood the test of time because it’s been slow to change.”
“Conference USA and commissioner Britton Banowsky, I think his model is probably the one that makes sense in college football. We want regional rivalries, we want regional games. With these conferences going all over the country to play each other for TV money…this is a model that has worked forever.”
Dykes doesn’t believe that money should be the force driving college football’s major decisions.
“With the television money and the reluctance of those conferences to share revenue with other conferences, to me I’m not so sure dollars and cents should be driving college football and it is. So I think the end is going to be, some type of cutoff. The proposal to give student-athletes a stipend…people know some schools won’t pay that, choking out schools that won’t be able to pay it, to keep money away from schools that need money to continue their athletic programs. I’m a coach who loves the game. I just hate to see the differences are so big between schools like us and the University of Texas or whomever. They get bigger and bigger and it becomes more difficult for people like us to try and compete.”
When it’s all said and done, Dykes thinks everyone will come to their senses and realize that there’s a better way go about this.
“I think at the end of the day, everybody will look back and say this doesn’t make sense. Let’s blow this thing up and start over. They’ll say greed has cost us, let’s try to be a little bit more prudent in the decisions we make and keep the student-athletes in mind.”