The future of NCAA football. Conference realignment
11/28/12 – Louisville to join the ACC in 2014
Lets pretend it is the year 2015. The Orioles are about to three-peat as World Series champs. Cam Cameron is long gone. The Wizards have lost 246 straight games and counting. Kids are playing with hover boards, and the landscape of college sports has been turned upside down, shaken up, and put back together, all thanks to big money and conference realignment. All this realignment stuff is driven by three things. Money, television exposure, and eligibility to win a BCS title in football. Tradition, geography, forget about it.
Nothing earns more money for the school than the football program. Football income pays for the water polo and gymnastics teams to be able to operate. Televison exposure makes even more money for conferences, which they then distribute to the schools. How do you make the most money as a conference? Have a 24-hour cable network devoted to your conference. As of 2012, there are two conferences which have this. The Big Ten Network was the first, founded in 2007 and will operate under contract through 2027.
The Pac-12 is onboard as of August 2012, under contract through 2024. They have multiple regional networks out west. Pac 12 Washington (Wash/Wash St), Pac 12 Oregon (Ore/Ore St.), Pac 12 Bay Area (Cal/Stanford) , Pac 12 L.A. (USC/UCLA), etc…
The SEC does not have a 24 hour cable network, but CBS televises the premier SEC football matchup each week. During the 2:30 time slot which the premier SEC game of the week is played, no other SEC team is allowed to be televised, to maximize viewership by SEC fans for those three and a half hours. CBS pays the SEC $55 million a year for that right. A contract that is good through 2023. If the SEC divides that money up equally, it’s about 3.92 million dollars per school, just from CBS. There are other contracts from ESPN and what not.
In the Big Ten, they earn 49% of the revenue generated, and the operating network, FOX sports, earns 51%. That equaled about 7.2 million dollars per school this past year.
The Pac 12 has no operating partners it must split with, and therefore doesn’t have to participate in any revenue sharing. This being their first season, the forecast is that the network will generate $30 million dollars annually, PER SCHOOL! Remember that.
Everything is predicated on football and creating 16 team “super conferences”, which determine the playoff teams for the BCS title. Which conferences will get their 16 teams first? Probably the ones with the lucrative tv deals. With all of this talk about conference re-alignment, it is safe to say that the Big Ten, Pac 12 and SEC are not going anywhere…ever, and these three will get their 16 teams first. But to get there, they have to pull teams from another conference and someones conference is going to be left in shambles. Assuming that the Big Ten, Pac 12 and SEC are safe, Where will the schools come from?
Here is the rundown of the conferences as of 2015. Teams in Bold are new additions after 2012. (in no particular order):
Pac 12: Washington, Washington State, Oregon, Oregon State, Cal, Stanford, USC, UCLA, Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, Utah (12 Teams)
SEC: Alabama, Auburn, Kentucky, Florida, Georgia, Texas A&M, Missouri, South Carolina, LSU, Arkansas, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Ole Miss, Mississippi (14 Teams)
Big Ten: Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Northwestern, Nebraska, Penn State, Indiana, Illinois, Purdue, Iowa, Maryland, Rutgers (14 Teams)
ACC: Florida State, Clemson, Boston College, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Duke, Miami, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, Pitt, Syracuse, Louisville (14 Teams)
Big 12: Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, TCU, West Virginia (10 Teams)
Big East: UConn, Cincinnati, South Florida, Temple, Boise State, Navy, San Diego State, BYU, Central Florida, Houston, Southern Methodist, Memphis, Tulane, East Carolina (14 teams)
It’s the year 2015, which conferences need what teams to reach the magic number 16? It’s clear to see that the Big 12 is the farthest away, needing to acquire six teams to get there. Right now they don’t even have the 12 teams needed to host a conference title game, one of the pre requisites to get into the BCS playoff. Texas A&M left, Mizzou left, Nebraska left, Colorado left, they gained only TCU, and West Virginia. Not quite the prestige that Nebraska and Texas A&M bring to the table. Rumors have been around for some time now that the Pac 12, at the time the Pac 10, was looking to expand, and dip into the Big 12 to do it. Seeking Nebraska, Colorado, and other teams mentioned would be Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State. Colorado made it, Nebraska chose the Big Ten, and Utah from the Mountain West made it and even 12. If the Pac 12 targets the Big 12 again, and if that $30 million per year per school forecast holds true from the network revenue, schools from Texas, to Oklahoma, to Maine, to Alaska, to Hawaii will be fighting tooth and nail to get into the Pac 12. It would be the best the deal going right now. With that kind of money, they could pull the best football talent out of the Big 12, and create 2 more Pac 12 networks. Pac 12 Texas (UT/Tex.Tech), Pac 12 Oklahoma (OK/OKST). Two more networks = more $$$$$$$$.
New Pac 16: Washington, Washington State, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, Cal, USC, UCLA, Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, Utah, Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State. (16 Teams)
I guess in my opinion, it’s the Pac 12 who will be the first domino fall and create a 16 team super conference. The other conferences will be forced to follow suit real fast. The Big 12 now has six teams. They can’t have a conference with six teams.
Many thought it was the ACC or Big East who would be left without a leg to stand on. I think it will be the Big 12. Heres why.
The commissioner of the Big East, Mike Aresco, is the former Executive Vice President of CBS. Think he wouldn’t know a thing or two about getting a 24-7 “Big East Network” started? Generating millions for the slew of new schools joining the football conference. He wasted no time in replacing the schools who have jumped ship, Syracuse, Pitt, and Notre Dame basketball. Enter UCF, Houston, Boise State, San Diego State, BYU, Memphis, Navy, SMU, Tulane and East Carolina. Add them to Louisville, UConn, Cincinnati, South Florida and Temple. The Big East is one team shy of the magic number 16. But all of the new additions leave the Big East looking like a carbon copy of Conference USA. Louisville, Cincinnati and UConn feel that they have come a long way in their program growth and feel that they are better than mid-major status. So do the other conferences who seek to reach 16 teams as well.
In the ACC, the wild card to the fate of the whole thing, in my opinion is Notre Dame. While they earned the right to play in the BCS title game in 2012, the playoff system rules will make them have to belong to a conference, and the ACC would the one as they had been already been granted membership in all other sports. The Fighting Irish have been preparing for this move to the ACC as they scheduled more and more games against ACC teams each season. They have played at least two ACC schools in six of the seven seasons spanning 2006-2012, and four ACC schools each of the final two years. Boston College, Miami, Wake Forest, and Pitt in 2012, with Pitt obviously joining in ACC in 2013. Notre Dame being “Notre Dame” keeps the ACC afloat, puts an ACC team on nationally televised games on NBC (more $$$ for the ACC), and adds legitimacy to the ACC as a football conference. The addition of Notre Dame gives the ACC 14 teams. UPDATE 11/28/2012: Louisville to join the ACC in 2014. Makes that 15 teams when Notre Dame comes aboard.
So with six teams without a home from the now defunct Big 12, the Pac 12 (now Pac 16) setting the standard and getting to 16 teams first, the ACC in need of ONE team, the SEC in need of two teams, the Big Ten in need of two teams, and a few programs from the Big East looking to upgrade, and not become part of the “Conference USA 2.0″ disrespect that they are going to face, here’s what I’ve got.
New SEC: Alabama, Auburn, Kentucky, Florida, Georgia, Texas A&M, Missouri, South Carolina, LSU, Arkansas, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Ole Miss, Mississippi, Baylor, TCU. (16 Teams)
I know Geography means nothing, but not every conference will take it to the extremes like the Big East did. Baylor and TCU are decent enough football schools, who would gladly accept the challenge, respect , and $$ that comes along with playing in the SEC. “Come on guys, it’ll be fun!” said Texas A&M to it’s in-state pals, Baylor and TCU.
New Big Ten (?? or Big 16??): Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Northwestern, Nebraska, Penn State, Indiana, Illinois, Purdue, Iowa, Maryland, Rutgers, UConn, West Virginia (16 Teams)
For UConn, the Big Ten is a definite upgrade. For West Virginia…they have to go somewhere.
New ACC: Florida State, Clemson, Boston College, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Duke, Miami, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, Pitt, Syracuse, Louisville, Notre Dame, Cincinnati. (16 Teams)
Cincinnati has been the latest rumor, along with the Louisville who just came aboard. The Bearcats would make 16 once Noter Dame comes along.
New Big East: South Florida, Temple, Boise State, Navy, San Diego State, BYU, Central Florida, Houston, Southern Methodist, Memphis, Tulane, East Carolina, Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State. (15 teams)
I mean, Boise and San Diego in the Big EAST? Why not Kansas and Iowa while you’re at it. To get to 16 teams, take your pick from Marshall, Rice, Tulsa, Southern Mississippi, Alabama-Birmingham, or Texas-El Paso. The Big East has done nothing but rape Conference USA over the years. Why stop now. This conference, while still being intact, won’t garner any respect. But there will be a 24 hour cable channel devoted to it in 12 diferent states. “Cha-Ching”