In April of 1889, about 2 million acres of land in the middle of the United States of America was up for grabs.

Covered wagons filled with an estimated 50,000 families and their belongings lined up side-by-side at the border to what we know as Oklahoma.

At noon on April 22 of that year, the signal was given and those wagons took off as future landowners went racing across the plains to claim the 160 acres of former “Indian Territory” they were each allowed to settle on.

None of those families knew exactly where they were going—they had just heard the stories of how great the land was that was ahead of them, and the opportunities that would come with it and they were going to find their corner of it.

Over the last three weeks, the covered wagons of college sports have been racing into new territories. Like the Boomer Sooners of 1889, they really don’t know where they are going either, but they’re going as fast as they can with the idea that they would know it when they saw it.

It’s called “ready…shoot…aim!”

It rarely ever works the way anyone hopes.

This round of insanity started when a bolt from the powder blue struck with the news that USC and UCLA were leaving the PAC 12 and would become the 15th and 16th members of the Big 10.

The last eight words of that last sentence should tell you everything you need to know—a conference founded on the premise of having 10 member schools that already had 14 was about to add two more.

The big picture is this: the college sports we grew up with is dead. Dead!

The Big 10, which will be 16 teams strong, will include a team from New Jersey and two from Los Angeles.

Get your map book out—that big one you used to take in the car on long vacation trips—and you’ll see that Rutgers and USC couldn’t be any farther apart on the map and still be in the United State of America.

I will remind you of what I have written about conferences before. The purpose of a conference is to unite schools that are in a similar geographic area and who have similar visions for higher education and learning.

Rutgers doesn’t fit that bill with the original schools of the Big 10, let alone the new California-based ones.

And has the world of college football been clamoring for the late-October conference football matchup in Minneapolis between USC and Minnesota or the early-February hoops brawl between UCLA and Penn State?

And, once again, everyone is looking to South Bend to see if this is the moment when the Irish finally sign a declaration of dependence to a…a…whatever you call these conglomerations.

I have defended Notre Dame’s unwillingness to join a conference and the big reason behind it—control.

As an independent, they have control over who they play, when they play and where they play. They want to play a home game at Yankee Stadium, they can do that. They want to play a home game in Dallas, they can do that. They want to play a road game in a certain city or region to help with recruiting, they can do that.

There is freedom in that.

Of course, the Irish have been playing a required number of football games against ACC schools each year. The relationship between the Irish in all athletics and the ACC is like a man and woman living together but not married and they are allowed to date other people.

It’s complicated.

The ACC is thrilled to have ND in their league in every sport but football, and in football they play enough games against their conference members that it keeps them in the national spotlight. For the Irish, it’s convenient and it boosts their image on the East Coast.

Keep in mind, thought, that all of that could become irrelevant if these storm fronts merge into a giant mesocyclone storm cell—in other words, if we’re left with two mega-conferences that encompass dozens of colleges in each one.

The real problem is, who do you complain to about all of this?

Who is accountable for what happens in college sports?

Who is putting the boundaries out there for schools to operate within?

No one.

The schools are making their own rules, and there literally is no one around to stop them. Heck, there is no one to even make them slow down!

Like those covered wagons 133 years ago, they just keep driving the horses at full speed—racing for the perfect spot to call home.

Unfortunately, they will never find happiness in what they are doing and how they are doing it.