Joel Reichenberger: College football’s fault

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Joel Reichenberger

Steamboat Pilot & Today sports reporter and photographer Joel Reichenberger can be reached at 871-4253 or jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com.

Find more columns by Joel here.

— On Thursday night as I helped friends put the finishing touches on our Thanksgiving dinner, I watched with giddy delight as the University of Texas beat Texas A&M in what — at least for the foreseeable future — is the final game in one of the fiercest and longest-running rivalries in the nation.

The result was a narrow Texas win, but one that had resounding implications for the series and fans.

There were plenty of equally delicious tidbits, like the fact that the Texas band spelled out “Thanks A&M” while playing “Thanks for the Memories” during their halftime show. That move was made to look all the more classy moments later when the Aggie band went into formation and “sawed the horns off” Texas’ Longhorn logo.

Considering Texas A&M’s imminent departure from the Big 12, I take a little joy in its pain, as I do all the schools that have left and put the sporting status of my alma mater, Kansas State University, in jeopardy.

I’ve been to College Station, Texas, and to Texas A&M, and I loved the place. The fans were as fun, friendly and welcoming as any group I’ve ever encountered.

I went to Boulder a few times for football and basketball games since I moved to Steamboat, and I always had fun there, too.

I’m angry those opportunities no longer exist.

Still, a more sane approach to it all is to admit that my quarrel isn’t with any of the schools that have left the Big 12, or with the conferences that took them in.

Rather, my quarrel is with the entire system, with the way college sports work.

A more perfect world will require a change deep in what is college sports.

Strengthen the NCAA so it can create a better playground. Do away with the money and TV incentives that rip apart age-old rivalries by spreading them at least semi-evenly across competing institutions.

Preserve bonds, balance and geographic common sense by splitting the 120 FBS schools into 10 or 12 even leagues. Fix the postseason and ensure every team has only itself to blame for missing out on a potential championship by creating a 16-team playoff that includes conference winners and either four or six at-large teams.

It’s going to be tough, but someday something like that will happen.

In the meantime, I’m going to take the easy route and blame the Aggies, whether or not it’s their fault.

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