For years, summer time has been often called Talking Season in faculty football—the July convention media days produce a river of rhetoric from coaches and directors that prime the pump for the blocking and tackling to return. But the previous two summers have change into Plundering Season as nicely, with the Southeastern Conference and Big Ten making blockbuster expansions at the expense of the Big 12 and Pac-12. That has, in flip, affected the nature of Talking Season.
Lately, the speeches from convention commissioners have been extra anticipated, scrutinized and second-guessed than something the coaches must say. With income at an all-time excessive and collegiality at an all-time low, the boardroom drama is extra fascinating than the precise video games. The direction of the total faculty athletics enterprise hangs in the balance, which is of higher gravitas than which groups had the greatest offseason in the weight room.
We’ve now reached a lull—dare to dream, possibly even a cessation—in realignment. We’ve heard from each convention commissioner as they assess the panorama. We noticed flexing from Greg Sankey of the SEC and Kevin Warren of the Big Ten. We heard brass-tacks enterprise discuss from new Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark. We received a dose of pushback and perspective—wistful and weak to some critics—from ACC boss Jim Phillips. And we received a combination of dismay and defiance from the Pac-12’s George Kliavkoff.
With Talking Season over and Poaching Season on pause, the place can we stand in faculty sports activities? Where has realignment taken us, and the place may or not it’s heading in the future? Our author roundtable tackles six points.
What is the Power 5 energy rating, and who ranks as the Best of the Rest?
At the second—and we do not understand how lengthy the second will final—I’d rank them thusly.
1. SEC. The Big Ten might squeeze just a little extra income out of its media-rights offers, however the SEC is each wealthy and successful all the football championships. Right now, there is no such thing as a comparability on the area. And the colleges the SEC is including (Texas and Oklahoma) carry just a little extra weight than what the Big Ten is including (USC and UCLA).
2. Big Ten. In the new Power 2 panorama, the first coast-to-coast league is positioned to proceed to distance itself from everybody however the SEC. It’s a good distance again to 3rd.
3. ACC. The convention is, paradoxically, held collectively and strained by its interminable media-rights contract by means of 2035-36. The prohibitive value of breaking the league’s grant of rights settlement has undoubtedly saved some colleges off the realignment market, however it has additionally created some angst in phrases of the capped income. Will there be a push for uneven earnings distribution in the future? Phillips has his work minimize out for him in phrases of discovering inventive options.
4. Big 12 This might be a tie for fourth with the Pac-12, however ties are a cop-out. The Big 12 has already proven it will possibly survive a poaching of its prime packages by making some savvy additions for 2023 (BYU, Central Florida, Cincinnati, Houston). While the league does not actually have any A-listers, the B-list is lengthy and balanced—and probably not upwardly cell, offering an odd stage of consolation. Yormark has proven some early flash; can he again it up with some robust strikes to bolster the league’s standing?
5. Pac-12. Early indications are that the convention can hold its present 10 members from splintering, though that solidarity may solely be as robust as the Big Ten’s urge for food for additional growth. The Pac-12 nonetheless has a number of main media markets and the late-night programming area of interest, that are good. But it does not have a lot in the method of enticing growth targets, and any additional raiding of its membership may show deadly.
6. Mountain West. With the American Athletic Conference set to lose three prime colleges subsequent yr, the path is obvious for the MWC to maneuver up the pecking order to Best of the Rest. San Diego State has a brand new stadium and is the solely Southern California program that belongs to a Western convention; Boise State is a perennial contender, whereas a number of different packages have had 10-win seasons in latest years. —Pat Forde
Which colleges maintain the most energy going ahead? And which packages will resolve what occurs subsequent?
1. Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish are the lever that may ship every part spinning—or strengthen the established order. The stubbornly proud impartial blueblood is the clear prime goal for the Big Ten, however the Irish are hopeful (even assured) they’ll reap sufficient income from their subsequent media-rights cope with NBC to proceed stiff-arming the convention that has coveted them for time immemorial. If Notre Dame goes to the Big Ten, then Stanford may observe as its most popular plus-one, and that would begin the demise of the Pac-12. Everyone is maintaining a tally of the Golden Dome.
2. Oregon and Washington. They will likely be the perceived leaders of the Pac-12 going ahead, however they might additionally probably bounce to the Big Ten instantly if supplied a chance. For the second, Big Ten/Fox Sports urge for food for the Pacific Northwest pair seems tepid, and there might be difficulties with the state legislature in phrases of uncoupling from Oregon State and Washington State. What deal they may ask for from the Pac-12 in its new media-rights package deal—like a no-penalty out for the Big Ten—will say loads about their true intentions.
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3. Stanford. Its stand-alone athletic marketability is debatable—a disinterested fan base and dependence on Notre Dame illustrate the limitations. But the educational credentials and Silicon Valley ties dilate the pupils of college presidents. The Cardinal might be a wild card in all this.
4. The ACC’s prime canines. This might be a decade down the highway, when the exit penalties reduce considerably, however a couple of colleges from this league finally might be prepared to maneuver. It’s believed the Big Ten and SEC may have curiosity in North Carolina, which is an interesting model that instructions an viewers in a populous state not at the moment a part of both league’s footprint. Virginia additionally has some attract. From a pure football standpoint, Clemson, Florida State and Miami have the most cache (dated because it may be for the Seminoles and Hurricanes).
5. San Diego State. If there’s a Group of 5 faculty that would probably fill a Power 5 want, the Aztecs and Pac-12 might need a wedding of comfort. Or not. —PF
Who has the most to lose in this realignment chaos?
1. Oregon State and Washington State. Absent from many realignment rumblings are the people in Corvallis and Pullman. You do not see any experiences linking the Beavers and Cougars to the Big Ten, Big 12 or some other league. They are two of the lowest-resourced universities in the Power 5 who’re positioned in tiny media markets and have little or no historic success in football. OSU and WSU would probably tumble all the way down to the Mountain West if the Pac-12 implodes.
2. The Group of 5. With each realignment wave, the Power 5 grows in dimension and, nicely, energy. Oklahoma and Texas’ strikes to the SEC set off a domino impact that resulted in UCF, Cincinnati, BYU and Houston transferring to a Power 5 league. Their replacements in the G5? That can be FCS squads Jacksonville State and Sam Houston State, each of whom are becoming a member of Conference USA. The USC and UCLA shift to the Big Ten may set off extra such strikes. The gaps between the haves (Power 5) and have-nots (Group of 5) proceed to develop. Heck, the hole inside the Power 5 is now a chasm. As one administrator lately surmised, “It’s change into the Big 2 (SEC, Big Ten), Other 1 (ACC) and Group of seven.”
3. Fans and households of athletes. Conferences had been initially created due to their location. They linked like-minded universities with related funds that resided in the similar cultural and geographic footprint. They additionally offered followers and households a reasonably simple and reasonably priced journey to observe their staff/youngsters compete on the highway. Realignment has destroyed many regional rivalries, driveable highway journeys and, let’s be sincere, simply plain enjoyable. USC is now in the similar league as Rutgers. UCF will play in a convention whose headquarters (Dallas) is 1,100 miles away. And New Mexico State will likely be in the similar league as Virginia-based Liberty. —Ross Dellenger
Which community has the higher hand, Fox or ESPN?
Moving ahead, it’s unquestionably Fox. While ESPN is the largest chip on the board in the SEC (particularly when it will get exclusivity in 2024), Fox is in prime place to wrestle a few of the locus of management again from the four-letter community. Fox now has Los Angeles in its pocket, but additionally stands to realize a seat at the desk if the College Football Playoff expands after this present TV deal expires. It’s clear the Pac-12 and Big Ten need a number of TV companions concerned in negotiations as an alternative of simply ESPN, which suggests, in all chance, ESPN will someway must share the CFP with Fox. —Richard Johnson
What has been the greatest rumor of the previous month?
Realignment is the foolish season on steroids. Everyone protecting faculty football finally misses, and there may be maybe no time when folks throw extra stuff at the wall than when groups transfer leagues. I used to be on trip throughout the thick of the USC/UCLA aftermath and someway missed what was a really outrageous day on Twitter, which included a rumor that Virginia, North Carolina, Florida State and Clemson would bounce to the SEC. It got here with an extra “scoop” that ESPN was attempting to void a 20-year cope with the ACC. —RJ
Our greatest guess at what will likely be the subsequent large transfer?
While realignment appears to be on pause at the second, it’s unlikely to remain that method. Does it imply the Big Ten will add two extra groups tomorrow, or the Big 12 will poach half the Pac-12 by the finish of subsequent week? No, however the subsequent three to 5 years are sure to carry extra motion inside the Power 5.
The Pac-12’s two remaining largest manufacturers, Washington or Oregon, are unlikely to signal any type of long-term contract to stay in the league. Three years? Maybe. Six years? No method. If negotiations over the Pac-12’s new TV deal do not go as deliberate, possibly we’ll see the Ducks and Huskies transfer, particularly if (1) the Big Ten drops an invitation or (2) the Big 12’s TV negotiations in two years produce a extra glamorous income determine.
Either method, the Big Ten appears keen to finally increase once more, and which means the SEC may reply with one other growth of its personal, probably reciprocating the curiosity from a bevy of ACC groups that would problem the grant of rights in trade for a spot in one in every of the Big 2. Buckle up. By 2028, the sport might be a 40-team, two-conference construction that maybe operates as a semiprofessional entity. – RD
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