My least favorite narrative from the MAC Championship Game last night was that Northern Illinois somehow cost the conference $8M. Well, that might be factually true, and if so, it's worth pointing out. However, there are three things that don't set well to me about it.
- There's no guarantee that Kent State was going to ascend to the top 16 of the BCS.
- There's no guarantee that Northern Illinois WON'T ascend to the top 16 of the BCS. Jason Kirk seems to think it's going to happen, or at least did last Sunday.
- I don't think I care about whether a conference lost money or not.
That last one is personal, wholly subjective, and probably not admissible in a court of law. I have admitted on other venues of this grand Internet we all call home that I am an unabashed booster of mid-major schools, especially when it comes to them playing BCS teams. Maybe I'm not the best person to be making this argument.
But then again, when a school goes 12-1 with a legitimate Heisman candidate playing under center for them, why is this even an allegation? That's what it is, a derogatory allegation. "Northern Illinois cost the MAC $8M." That simple sentence might seem declarative, but what's the intent behind it? Resentment. It's a concerted attempt by some among the media/fanbase (not everyone, mind you, but enough) to make people feel bad for rooting for NIU because they cost people the magic of an upset attempt in the BCS. YOU MONSTERS. YOU MISSED OUT ON THIS YEAR'S BOISE/OKLAHOMA ARE YOU HAPPY?
But what's the real intent of this being a talking point? Obviously, it's about money. But money for who? For the kids? No, they don't get a dime of it directly. Yeah, it goes towards facilities and improving the program, but a lot of times, those benefits are seen by future classes. That's not the bad part, per se, as it's the nature of the beast in college football. Marcus Allen's dollars brought in aided Todd Marinovich, whose money helped out Keyshawn Johnson, whose successes funded Carson Palmer and so on and so forth. It's necessary.
But we're not talking about the student-athletes here. Northern Illinois cost the MAC that money. Translation, they cost the schools money. They cost coaches, administrators, ADs, deans, school presidents, and other stuffy old men money. Yeah, Universities are not-for-profit, but these coaches gotta get paid with some kind of money. That's what this is about. It's our rooting for NIU and these kids who cost the stodgy old-money a chance to earn even more. Something about that seems really fucked up to me.
That's why I don't want to hear that talking point being uttered, regardless of the intent. I don't think I want to hear about it even if/when the student-athletes get paid either. You know what Northern Illinois beating Kent State was about? It was about the Huskies winning the MAC. It was about a 12-1 team punching its ticket to a prestigious bowl, be it BCS or otherwise. It's about the kids capping off a great season, a potentially historic season had they not gotten sucked into the tire-fire that was the 2012 Iowa Hawkeyes.
It's not about money, even if it is about money, because in this economic climate, the last thing I want to hear about is the missed opportunity for some codgers to make more money than they already do.