Pat Forde Unsure of ESPN’s Exact Influence Over NCAA Conference Realignment, but is sure How he Feels About State of College Sports

November 2, 2011 – 6:45 am by Eric Schmoldt

Pat Forde, formerly a college football columnist for ESPN, made his debut with Yahoo! Sports on Tuesday. It certainly created some buzz in on the media front as he seemed to do a whirlwind tour of interviews across the country. Forde was inevitably asked about ESPN and whether or not the media giant might be one of the driving forces behind conference realignment in college sports. Unfortunately, he can’t really give us a clear answer. But it’s not because he’s not allowed to talk about it or afraid to speak candidly.  He simply doesn’t know.

Seems pretty secretive and little fishy, but then again, so is the whole realignment process. Forde does believe, however, that we’re currently in an unequivocally disgusting chapter for college sports. I couldn’t agree more.

Pat Forde joined XTRA 910 in Phoenix with Bickley and MJ to discuss ESPN’s involvement in conference realignment, why conference realignment is bad, if it could lead to a playoff system, the battle of two tremendous defenses at LSU and Alabama this weekend and Boise State’s chances of making the national championship game.

Are ESPN and networks who are driven by ratings actually the ones who are driving realignment in college football?:

“You know, it’s a great question and a legitimate question. I wish I knew the answer. One of the strange dynamics of working there is, you rarely talk to those guys about that stuff. It was somewhat frustrating because you’re trying to chase the news and you figure that those guys knew what was going on, but there was kind of that wall between us and the programming folks who were dealing with these people. I could never get a very good sense of how involved they were. Are they involved with helping people make their schedules, year-in and year-out? Yes. Do they have relationships that are tight enough to the point where they might be called into an advisory capacity? I don’t think that’s out of the question at all. … Whether they were calling shots, I honestly wish I knew or had a better idea.”

What do you think the long-term effects of this realignment era are going to be?:

“I think it’s, in general, horrible for college sports. I think this has been a disgusting chapter, really, in the whole thing. I don’t think realignment is good. I think it has only exacerbated the mercenary nature of this and college sports was supposed to be different than pro sports. I’m not naive here, but still it seems more and more like pro sports in every single way. The geography of it doesn’t make sense. The rivalries that are lost, the traditions that are lost, the unique flavor of conferences goes away. … And we’re still not sure where it’s going to end.”

Do you buy that when all this realignment is over, we get closer to a playoff system?:

“I’m completely 100 percent pro-playoff, but the analogy I’ve been using is if you decide to remodel the bathroom and then tear down the entire house around the bathroom. I think there’s a better way to do it. … The momentum and pressure is there toward a playoff and we can get there under any circumstances, not just necessarily by consolidating into four power conferences.”

Does LSU or Alabama have the better defense going forward?:

“That’s a great question. They’re both so good. They’re just lights-out. … This is going to be tough-man football. It’s fast, physical. It’s going to be a lot of handing off between the trenches and a lot of guys just pounding the snot out of each other. It’s going to be fun if you like old-school, slobber-knocking football. From that standpoint, I think this is going to be great. Which one’s better? I don’t know. I think LSU’s played better offenses so far, but Alabama has not allowed a point in the second half in more than a month.”

Is there any way you think Boise State can find itself in the national championship game this year?:

“I think it’s going to be an uphill battle. I’ve been driving the Boise bus for a couple of years now because I’m just stunned at the way people want to dismiss them when the evidence on the field is they’re really good. I don’t think this Boise team is as good as last year’s team, yet they may still go undefeated. … If Stanford loses to Oregon, Oklahoma State loses to Oklahoma, both things that could well happen, but if LSU loses a close one on the road to Alabama, there’s going to be a lot of sentiment for a rematch, or even the other way around. … That’s going to be a tough argument for a Boise to win, given the strength of schedule. It’s just not there for them.”

Listen to Pat Forde on XTRA 910 in Phoenix here

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