Boston College athletic director Gene DeFilippo‘s retirement announcement might not reverberate the plates of college football but his conference realignment comments nearly did. Last October, DeFilippo casually told the Boston Globe ESPN “told us what to do” before the ACC extended invites to Pittsburgh and Syracuse. Presumably, the executives at the World Wide Leader pegged the Panthers and Orange as the best financial fits out of the Big East. Sure, both provide solid basketball programs but if ESPN’s interest is piqued, it’s because they believe there’s a dollar, or millions to be made.
It’s almost comical how back room mafia-like their hold on college football is and not the least bit surprising conference commissioners and university administrators allow it happen. The sport has never been more popular, visible or rich. What ESPN hopes to achieve by boxing out the Big East can probably be found on an internal memo in Bristol, wrapped in plastic with “CONFIDENTIAL” bolded in red and placed neatly in a silver suitcase. The suitcase is handcuffed to Brent Musburger’s wrist.
Boston College’s outgoing athletic director wasn’t being malicious or conniving by divulging the realignment relationship with ESPN, he simply told the truth. College football fans knew the World Wide Leader pulled strings like a puppeteer long before Pitt and Syracuse decided to build their new home further south. The issue though is do we care? ESPN brings a lot of terrible to the realm of broadcasting but they’ve perfected the art of televised college football. So much so, that I abhor the notion of watching a game on Fox or NBC. Is it shallow to look past minor flaws when the product is so damn attractive? Guys do this all the time with women, how’s placing the sport on that pedestal any different?
DeFilippo should be commended for his comments because it’s always nice when someone puts ESPN on blast for behavior no other entity tied to sports can pull off with a straight face. He’ll be known for much to Eagles fans than a throw away remark about a television station but I’ve always appreciated that quote for its candor and the humor it entails.