It's Not Conference Expansion Until The U.S. Senate Gets Involved

One of the more desperate memes propagated during the brief period of time that the era of the superconference in college football appeared to be nigh was that the assembly of said group would bring unwanted attention from the courts and lawmakers.

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A desperate meme but, as it turns out, an accurate one. Iowa's senators, Republican Chuck Grassley and Democrat Tom Harkin (pictured), perceiving a threat to Iowa State's existence as a BCS school, are making noises about investigating. They've discovered a shocking hidden motive in the recent expansion moves undertaken by the Pac-10 (is it officially the Pac-12 yet?) and Big Ten:

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The letter also states that both lawmakers are concerned that the Big Ten's possible expansion appears "to be designed not to further the charitable operation of the Big Ten."

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"Rather it appears that invitations are being extended because of the major media markets where they are situated," the letter says. "Thus the invitations to join the Big Ten seem to be extended for the sole purpose of enhancing the financial bottom line that television contracts, marketing and promotional activities will bring member institutions."

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The senators asked for a bunch of stuff like tax returns and whatnot so they could look very seriously at them and the glare over their spectacles at whichever Big Ten representative has the misfortune to get shipped to Washington DC to be lectured.

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By that point, however, Iowa State grad Harkin might be on their side again. This is a 180-degree change in his position. Just two weeks ago this was his stance:

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“Well, while I am opposed to the kind of mischief that’s going on with the Big 10 and the Pacific conference, I just don’t know if this is a proper place for Congress to get involved unless there is something dealing with anti-trust or something like that, like interstate commerce.

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“It’s interesting that those who are always going after the long arm of the federal government, that the federal government is too intrusive, the federal government is too big, now they are calling on the federal government to get involved in sports."

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Two weeks later Harkin is bored with Red Dead Redemption, and wants to shoot something else in the head. Either that or Iowa State's president just won't shut up about it—the letter to the Big Ten was dated the same time Iowa State's president "contacted" the Iowa state senators by standing outside their offices and making the world's most annoying noise.

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It couldn't have taken much prodding, though. Extreme provincialism in the service of funneling money to a tiny state has been the raison d'être of the Iowa senator since statehood. I wonder what Nebraska senators think about all of this. One man's "mischief" is another's rescue raft.

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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