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Is TV changing the balance of power in college sports?

Appalachian State over Michigan was supposed to be a "fluke." But with the college basketball world watching some school named Gardner-Webb win AT Kentucky, 84-68 (yes, by 16 points), the day after Div. II Findlay won at Ohio State, and just a few days after Div. II Grand Valley State won at No. 8 Michigan State, it's hard not to believe that the days of "Major" conferences and "Mid-major" conferences is coming to an end. Why? I have a theory.

Until 15 years ago, there were only three TV networks that would carry football games, so those networks always picked the big names to show; and athletes picked those big schools in hopes of getting recognized by the pros. When ESPN came along, they started showing games involving mostly second-tier teams from the big conferences. But now, with ESPN2, 3, and 4, Fox Sports, and a whole slew of other cable networks carrying games, the best athletes are more willing to go to smaller schools in "lesser" conferences, because they'll still get on TV, still get "their props." Plus, add in the Internet with 24-hour coverage of every college sports team on dozens, if not hundreds, of Web sites, and you just don't need to go to Michigan to get noticed anymore.

It's actually the way college hockey has always been: No one covers college hockey anyway, so athletes are more than happy to go to Denver, Maine, New Hampshire, and Lake Superior State. -Cyd Zeigler jr.