Every single thing we love about College Football has been destroyed by the almighty dollar. The pageantry, the tradition, the regionality, the rivalries, the fact that conference championship was possible and everything for schools like Iowa, Washington State, Oregon State, Purdue, Texas Tech. One magical season for a mid-tier program could sustain a fan base for a generation. Those dream seasons are dead because Purdue might be able to put it all together to win a BigTen league in a year where they catch Michigan and Ohio State in a down year, but the idea that they could somehow finish ahead of Michigan, Ohio State, USC, and Oregon feels impossible. And yet it is still better to be Purdue than Cal, Oregon State, or Washington State today.
All of these schools are racing to get the biggest cash grab possible by leaving 150+ years of tradition in the trash while also maintaining their non-profit tax exempt status. Joke.
In the face of all of that there was one single school that said NO. We will not sell our soul, our mission, our identity, or our fans out for a few extra dollars. That hero who wanted to preserve college football and prevent it from becoming just a semi-amateur minor league NFL is Notre Dame. Every single one of these mega conferences has approached Notre Dame over the years. The BigTen now makes more sense than ever because ND's primary rival, USC, is now somehow a midwestern school. Even with the promise of HUGE money, bigger money than they could get on their own, and the preservation of their national schedule, Notre Dame still said no.
Notre Dame will remain independent. They will remain Notre Dame. They will play who they want and when they want. They will keep their integrity because they know an extra few million bucks a year doesn't really change anything for the positive.
How much would Oregon fans pay per year to have a chance at a conference title and an annual game against Oregon State? Probably not worth it to the average fan an alumni. Worth millions to the administration who will line their own pockets with the extra cash though. I remember that phrase "too big to fail" from the 2008 financial crisis. I also think there is an idea that some things are so big that they have to fail. It's impossible to keep connection to what was special to begin with. Ultimately, I think we will see a decline in interest in college football. There's a reason why it's not as popular in the Northeast. The Northeast never had an real football tradition. No regional rivalries. No real conference. Now that is the case for most places. I think you'll see decline in interest of the schools that got left behind and then also the schools that will inevitably be left at the bottom of these leagues every year. It might take a generation for those predictions to come through, but college football won't have the same grip on America that it used to.
People have been hating on Notre Dame for my entire life. They have probably been hating on them since Knute Rockne invented the forward pass. People can continue to hate them because that is what college football should be about, but they can't deny that ND recognizes that their program is more than just a money making machine. That their tradition can't simply be bought at this point. Somethings shouldn't change and bigger/more isn't always better. Notre Dame refuses to go with the flow and follow the money and everyone should respect them for that.