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Couch: College football’s newest Alliance is just as short on truth, justice, and the American way as the SEC

Op-ed
Jason Mowry/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

They come together as the last vestige of hope to save the honor and purity of the most popular part of our American education system: college football. That's how nobly the leaders of the newly formed and boringly named "Alliance" described their mission Tuesday, anyway.

In reality, the commissioners of the Big Ten, Pac-12, and Atlantic Coast Conferences formed their little group in a panic. The Alliance is a counterattack to the successful power- and money-grab the Southeastern Conference and ESPN executed on the sport last month.

The Alliance is destined to fail, by the way. But you have to admire the all-out efforts people are willing to make when greed and gluttony are on the line.

We're getting a firsthand finance lesson about unfettered capitalism. This is what a multibillion-dollar industry looks like without boundaries, guidance, oversight, or leaders. So far, it's the Wild West.

So much is happening so quickly. Here's a little primer: The Supreme Court struck down the NCAA's founding principle of amateurism, saying it's not right to make billions on the backs of unpaid labor. Name, image, and likeness laws now allow athletes to market themselves and get paid. The NCAA has been castrated and is organizing a constitutional convention. And plans are in the works to expand the College Football Playoff.

The SEC, with ESPN's help and blessing, stole power players Texas and Oklahoma from the Big 12 so all the power and all the money of the sport would funnel to the conference.

The SEC claimed ownership of the sport. And then, on Tuesday came the Alliance.

(Cue in superhero music.) "What became clear in our conversations is that our institutions share values, interests and the genuine and dedicated commitment to the educational commitments of our world-class institutions," ACC commissioner Jim Phillips said.

"We need to make sure we have shared values, we keep academics first, we keep our integrity, our honor and our collaboration together," Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren said.

Wow. The stench was high. The three conferences are basically forming a voting bloc that will allow them to keep the SEC from making all the rules and deciding how to split up billions of dollars. So, say, the vote comes up on what to do with the College Football Playoff, the Alliance might be able to stop the SEC from tipping the tournament its way.

The Alliance members also will have their football teams schedule each other as a means of getting more attractive TV games.

It's a good try, thrown together in five weeks since the SEC stole Texas and Oklahoma. Rich guys in suits act fast when their corner offices are in jeopardy.

Why will this never work? Because, as the saying goes, there is no honor among thieves. These three commissioners use words like honor and integrity and collaboration. But that sounds like a punch line coming out of their mouths.

They weren't worried about the SEC and ESPN hoarding all the money because that would take away from education. No, they are worried about being left out.

Meanwhile, the Alliance left out the one other power conference: The Big 12. Why is that? Because the Big 12 without Texas and Oklahoma doesn't turn on TVs. The Big 12 will die soon.

TV is apparently one of the Alliance's shared values.

They are motivated only by following the dollar. This is about self-preservation.

At the same time they're angry that the SEC stole Texas and Oklahoma, they're also kicking themselves for not thinking of it first. Meanwhile, they also were panicked that the SEC might come after their most valuable pieces, too.

The Alliance doesn't have the power to fight off the SEC or ESPN, and not only that, it doesn't have the will to hold the Alliance together. As soon as the SEC comes after one of theirs, look out.

When you operate on greed, you become vulnerable to someone else's greed.

That doesn't sound quite as noble as the cause the Alliance members are claiming. In fact, their whole commitment to each other is done on a handshake with no contract.

"It's about trust," Phillips said. "It's about, we've looked each other in the eye. We've made an agreement. If that's (a contract) what it takes to get something considerable done, then we've lost our way."

College sports lost its way? Go figure.
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