On Friday, there was a solid post up on the SB Nation mothership site about how realignment has changed the scope of history about college sports. Because teams no longer compete in their historical conferences, new leagues are claiming history as their own, such as when the SEC claimed Texas A&M alum Von Miller as its own as Super Bowl MVP.
SBN offers up a simplistic explanation, which is that a conference has to treat teams equally when it comes to their histories. When they accept teams into their league, they accept their history, for better and for worse.
This is something that I've noticed more than once when it comes to the ACC. If you've been to a football game, you'll know that the league runs an advertisement on all the teams' video boards talking about the game. It specifically mentions the "fires that forged Megatron...and Revis Island."
Calvin Johnson attended Georgia Tech, which means, yes, he did come out of the ACC. He was three-time all-conference, the winner of the Biletnikoff Trophy, and a finalist for the Heisman Trophy (where he finished 10th in voting). There's no doubting his history within the conference.
Then there's Darelle Revis. When he was at Pittsburgh, the Panthers played approximately one game against an ACC team - a 2006 win over Virginia. Yet he's on the video board, hyped up as part of the ACC's history.
Because realignment screwed up nearly every natural historic conference and rivalry, the concept of college football history is just plain weird. The ACC names classes of ACC Legends, and last year, they named Dan Koppen on that list. That's all well and good, but Dan Koppen didn't play in the ACC. He played in the Big East. It doesn't diminish what he meant to BC or how much success he had in the pros. It's just a different take on something, and it feels a little bit like claiming something that wasn't the ACC's to begin with.
I've always had something of a problem with this. When teams left their old leagues, I've had a long held belief that they forfeited their rights to traditions and histories. When Nebraska left the Big XII for the Big Ten, they went from being a historical team in their conference to a new team forging a new history. That goes double for Colorado, who went from the Big XII to the PAC-10 (now PAC-12).
History is exactly that. It's years upon years of tradition and memories built. When that changes, it's no longer the same history. If Oklahoma played Nebraska again, it wouldn't be the same because they're not in the same league. In effect, there is no more history. That's something teams should've realized and leagues should've made clear when realignment really started happening.
Change isn't a bad thing. Even though I miss the old Big East as much as anyone else, I recognized that there was no real other way to go. BC's departure from the Big East to the ACC was ahead of its time, and it ensured Boston College had a spot at the table for the remainder of their history. Had they not been careful, they could've wound up like UConn, stuck in a non-power conference while clamoring for a seat in one of the bigger leagues. So as much as I miss the past, I recognize that schools and athletic departments have to live in the future.
That doesn't change what happens, though. When you live in the future, you lose the right to revise and have your past. Each school has its own individual past, one it can celebrate with its fellow league members. After all, the history of teams is part of the draw for getting them into a particular league. But you lose the right to really celebrate it when it's not your history.
Consider this - Marshall won FCS national championships, but if their public marketing scheme became about how they were two-time national champions, FBS teams, especially power conference teams, would skewer them and laugh. How is that different than when a team goes from the Big East to the ACC or anywhere in between?
Ultimately, at the end of the day, I don't really care. It's an advertisement or a marketing scheme or a social media tweet talking about someone, and after it's online, it's gone within a day or two. The world moves so lightning quick that one month feels like years behind. So there is no real impact to something like this, but, like anything else, it got me thinking, it gets me every time I see it, and it makes it worth at least talking about.