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Steven M. Sipple: If college football's muck gets to be too much for you, there's always Netflix
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Steven M. Sipple: If college football's muck gets to be too much for you, there's always Netflix

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Texas players run on to the field for game against Iowa State in 2020.

Steven M. Sipple, Parker Gabriel and Chris Basnett get you up to speed at the end of a busy week at Nebraska. The Husker football team is off and running in preseason camp, Dalano Banton was drafted No. 46 overall to the Toronto Raptors and Lauren Stivrins detailed in a new podcast a May back surgery that has her next move still in limbo. That, and NU lands a verbal commitment from OL Valen Erickson mid-podcast. 

It’s highly possible you’re lamenting the declining romanticism attached to college football.

You might even be doing it subconsciously.

Good news on that front: It’s not a lost cause. Romanticism won’t simply disappear. The college game will remain extremely popular, especially in the Southeast. You can still watch it on your big screens with a sense of wonder.

If you’re a 50-something like myself, you might have to work at it a little harder.

Romanticism is currently waning at a rate we’ve seldom witnessed.

You wonder if popularity will begin to suffer noticeably.

We know the score here. We always have known the score. Big-time college football is big business. A multi-billion-dollar business. That’s no revelation.

It’s just never been more apparent what drives the train.

It’s why I try harder than ever to cling to the more appealing aspects of the college game.

It might mean clinging to the vision of a homegrown Nebraska kid wearing a shirt that advertises a seed-corn company as he addresses local media.

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In discussing the coming season last week, Husker sophomore center Cam Jurgens said, “We have a little sour taste in our mouths from last season. We want to right the ship, do a little better, play some winning football.

“I just want to hit some dudes right now, honestly.”

That’s pure. That’s timeless. That’s exactly what we need, more than ever.

Cling to that moment as opposed to the vision of ESPN allegedly encouraging other conferences — reportedly the American Athletic — to poach teams in the Big 12 so Texas and Oklahoma can move to the SEC without paying a massive buyout. That's lovely, ESPN. Just lovely.

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“I have absolute certainty that they (ESPN) have been involved in manipulating other conferences to go after our members,” Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby told The Associated Press this week after sending a cease-and-desist letter to the network.

ESPN, for what it’s worth, claimed the allegations “are entirely without merit.”

Yeah, right.

This is largely about ESPN doing anything it can to improve the appeal of its TV inventory. Alluring matchups are more critical than ever because people's attention is more scattered than ever with all the streaming options and the like. 

Alas, there's always a bottom line: Money, money, money.

It’s the principal reason Oklahoma and Texas are making their big move. Who could blame them?

According to columnist Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman, the schools figure to make around $60 million per year apiece with SEC payouts, a boost of $22 million over the last full-year Big 12 payout. Who among us would turn down a nearly 50% raise?

Texas is so focused on money that it decided to join a conference where it will quickly fade into the middle of the pack in football. The Longhorns winning an SEC title anytime soon seems a laughable notion. Doesn’t matter. We know what matters above all in college football, more so than ever. 

The ruthless nature of how Texas and Oklahoma made their big move leaves an impression. In that regard, Tramel notes that the subcommittee that recently proposed the 12-team college football playoff included Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson, Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick and two other league commissioners — Bowlsby and the SEC’s Greg Sankey. They worked on the playoff project upwards of two years, came up with an out-of-the-box plan and kept it under wraps until the day before it was presented to the rest of the CFP board of directors.

All the while, Sankey kept an even bigger secret from Bowlsby. Incredible.

Once unleashed, it rocked the sports world and added emphasis to what we already knew: College football is indeed big business. 

It’s a changing business. The name, image and likeness revolution pushes forward with dangerously little structure. The transfer portal is a mess.

NIL proponents shrug their shoulders and say it’ll work itself out.

That’s an interesting way to fight a wildfire.

You wonder what college football will look like in five years. Granted, you know the age of super-conferences approaches rapidly, but will the final form come close to resembling what we've come to love?

I wonder sometimes how many people genuinely care about what college football looks or feels like. There are so many “leaders” with their hands in the pot — conference commissioners, dozens of school presidents and chancellors, numerous athletic directors — that it’s difficult to even identify who’s steering the ship, if anyone.

It’s best to cling to appealing elements of the sport, elements that have sustained over time and can carry into the future.

Cling to the magnificent roar in big stadiums and marching bands and school traditions. 

Cling to monster matchups and Heisman Trophy front-runners and elaborate tailgates.

Cling harder than ever to whatever gives you goosebumps. 

“We’re men out there playing a game we love,” Jurgens, the Nebraska center, said last week.

Cling to thoughts like that.

It’ll help you wade through the muck.

If the muck gets to be too much for you, there’s always Netflix.

Contact the writer at ssipple@journalstar.com or 402-473-7440. On Twitter @HuskerExtraSip.

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