Here’s UW’s best bet – yet – in the changing landscape of college football

“Nobody – and I don’t care if you’re Warren Buffett or Jimmy Buffett – nobody knows if a stock will go up, down, sideways or around in circles.”

It was the character of Matthew McConaughey in one of the first scenes of “The Wolf of Wall Street”. It was an honest moment from a not-so-honest stockbroker summarizing the knowledge of so-called experts. And right now, the future of Huskies athletics and college football in general looks like any stock on Wall Street. Nobody knows what will happen.

What we do know is that the UW is scrambling like a family that just walked into a burglarized home. Much of what she thought she had – perhaps much of what she took for granted – was taken away from her. UCLA and USC fled to the Big Ten despite a conference gentlemen’s agreement that there would be no poaching. So now the Huskies have to rush to a solution – a solution, I have to think, will only be short-term.

Times reporter Mike Vorel laid out Washington’s potential landing spots in an in-depth analysis on Tuesday. Among the prospects: A move to the Big Ten, which is probably the most sought-after destination if there is (unlikely) interest in this conference. Bolting for the Big 12, which looks more realistic but would represent a competitive downgrade from the Big Ten. Or a “loose” alliance with the ACC, which could keep Southern California’s now bereft Pac-12 relatively intact while setting up a championship game – and perhaps some intriguing matchups – between the transcontinental leagues.

Each of these scenarios is possible, although some seem much more possible than others. What seems closer to impossible is that any pick the Huskies make in the short term will be like where they are five or 10 years from now.

It seems fitting that the biggest college football story of the year came out of Southern California. It’s the earthquake capital of the nation, and the impending departure of USC and UCLA from the Pac-12 has rocked the conference and the country. The Pac-12 could completely disband before the next turn of the decade. And the SEC and the Big Ten have solidified themselves as NCAA superpowers whose podium spots exceed any potential bronze medalist.

A Pac-12/ACC alliance could be intriguing — especially if it brings some of the Big 12’s most competitive schools like Oklahoma State, Baylor, Cincinnati or Houston into the fold. But the SEC and the Big Ten are like the Corleone family of college football — they own muscle town, and if you’re not with them, you’re just a stranger.

Right now, the Huskies’ goal is to stay as relevant as possible in preparation for a move down the road. The prevailing thinking now (and, yes, the prevailing thinking today may be outdated tomorrow) is that college football is heading into a superconference era in which, as Sporting News’ Bill Bender writes, the SEC and Big Ten will play the role of the NFC and the AFC.

If that’s true – Washington has find their way into one of these leagues, eventually or forever lose their place in the national championship conversation. That’s why any deal you see the Huskies make now will almost certainly be short-term. As Vorel pointed out on Wednesday, Washington (or Oregon) is unlikely to agree to a long-term rights-granting deal that bars him from eventually joining the SEC or the Big Ten.

For a sports analogy in a sports column, consider that UW’s next hit will be like Thursday and Friday of a golf tournament. All the Huskies can do right now is put themselves in the best position to compete over the weekend. They can not to win with their next move, but they can certainly lose with a bad decision or lack of action.

If potential recruits don’t think they have a chance of winning or competing for something prestigious by coming to Washington, UW could potentially fade into athletic obscurity. Yes, there’s a lore on Montlake, but nothing like college football titans like Alabama, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Michigan, and a host of other programs perched above. of Huskies.

Fans of schools such as Washington State must fear future irrelevance with the upheaval of college football. It’s not impossible that Huskies fans will join them at some point.

Washington’s next move in college football will make headlines no matter what. But that move will almost certainly be temporary.

At least the Huskies hope that will be the case. Otherwise, they could very well be doomed to the college football slump.

About Barbara Johnson

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