Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Big 12 Saves Tulane

It appears this morning that Texas has saved what is left of the Big Twelve- which is probably marginally good for Tulane. Four super-conferences probably is the death knell for competitive scholarship football outside the elite. The survival of the Big East and Big Twelve- halting the consolidation of on-field talent and off-field power- probably helps the programs merely hanging on.

Four power Leagues can probably construct a play-off without the other half of college football, effectively segregating the two tiers. But six power Leagues-and occasional viable contenders from the MWC or C-USA- keep it muddled just enough. And that democratic approach keeps mid-major football relevant: the BCS bid, the juice an undefeated mid-major team brings to the top ten, etc.

I guess Houston or Memphis could get raided away to plug a Big Twelve hole? I’m not sure that matters, as C-USA could plug the resultant hole quite easily. There are many, many busted I-A programs out there. And I’m not sure a more intimate ten team League, losing the two members with indifferent football programs who most frantically want to escape, is all that bad. I won’t miss the Championship game- and I can see good things from gaining a more coherent geographical footprint.

Plus, Tulane needs more time. Honestly, this football program is probably at a nadir- it really should not be this bad. But Tulane is still scraping itself up off the floor from losing intact recruiting classes from hurricanes and reviews and coaching changes and a poor existing head coach. The last time Tulane was “normal” was the first few years of the Scelfo regime, where they just weren’t this hopeless. Even a decent coach probably squeezes a .500 season every so often, puts some more fans in the stands, plays a more competitive game.

That is not to say Tulane is a BCS candidate- but whatever does shake out five years from now, there ought to be a secondary “good” League or two- where the BYU and Air Forces and Southern Mississippi style programs gravitate. Right now, Tulane is not like that. In any radical shake-up, Tulane is destined for a Sunbelt, not the “good” secondary League.

But a USM level of competence is an achievable, albeit not real likely, goal in a decade. LSU is wholly not. And as Tulane approaches what will probably be the very near post-Toledo future, the Wave has to figure out how to kick this program up. The next round of mid-major realignment could be coming, probably in conjunction with the BCS schools sorting themselves out over the next few years. Is Tulane’s destiny with decent Southern Miss or hopeless Louisiana-Monroe?