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MU’s Alden Says He Expects More Conference Shuffling

Just when you thought it was safe to stop worrying about conference realignment…

Earlier this week, Missouri AD Mike Alden dropped a bit of a bombshell saying after the NCAA athletic directors’ meeting in Dallas that more shuffling, moving, expanding, contracting and conference realigning is probably on the way:

 

“I think, and other people probably would agree with this: We haven’t seen the end of conference realignment.  This ain’t over.  There’s more coming.  I believe that.”

 

Great.  So now we know what rumors we’ll all be chasing next spring and summer.

We at MrSEC.com have talked to representatives from several Southeastern Conference schools over the past few months.  Not one has said anything other than the league’s move to 14 schools was a tad bumpier than expected and that there is no interest in moving to 16 schools anytime soon.

That doesn’t mean that if the entire athletics landscape changes Mike Slive and the SEC’s presidents will sit idly by while other leagues bob, weave, and pass them by, of course.

Alden’s belief in future movement ties to the ever-growing gap between college football’s haves and have-nots.  The new playoff system and its “big bowl rotation” sidekick — with all teams tabbed by a selection committee — will lean heavily toward the haves.  So will the huge dollars that are generated by all those games.  Many of the haves are also pushing for the right to give athletes a stipend in addition to their current scholarships.  Most of the have-nots can’t afford to do that.

So it appears Alden is simply a believer in evolution.  Sports evolution.  At some point the biggest football schools will make up their own new, upper division of the NCAA:

 

“I just think there are going to continue to be schools that are going to attempt to align themselves with what they perceive to be ‘like’ schools, looking for increased revenue distribution with continued escalation of media contracts.  Is that going to happen tomorrow?  No, I don’t think tomorrow.  But I would think in the next couple years — and I don’t mean three to five years.  I’m talking about the next two years, we’re going to see even more shifts in those areas.

There are really 60 to 70 schools in the country that their budgets are going to be at a certain level or above, in Division I.  Those schools are trying to see how they can align themselves.  You’ve seen it happen in the ACC, you’ve seen it happen in the SEC, you’ve seen continued question marks around the Big East.  But (schools) want ot make sure they’re going to be part of those discussions of who are those 60 to 70 that are going to command the majority of the revenue rights in the country in college athletics.”

 

Alden’s “next two years” comment should tip you off further that the new playoff system will be an accelerant to the flames of realignment.  But with most of the major conferences sitting pretty at the moment, who’s likely to do the moving?

Looking at the top 80 FBS, football-playing athletic budgets in the country we find that most schools are already married to one of the “money” leagues (ACC, Big Ten, Big XII, Pac-12 and SEC).  Using the Department of Education’s 2010-2011 athletic budget figures, we found that those big budget schools not in major conferences are:

 

Louisville (14th biggest athletic budget, Big East conference)

Notre Dame (23rd, recently partnered with the ACC but will technically remain an independent in football),

Connecticut (36th, Big East)

UNLV (50th, MWC)

Rutgers (55th, Big East)

South Florida (65th, Big East)

Memphis (67th, moving to the Big East)

BYU (68th, Independent)

UCF (70th, moving to the Big East)

SMU (71st, moving to the Big East)

Cincinnati (72nd, Big East)

San Diego State (75th, moving to the Big East)

Houston (77th, moving to the Big East)

 

In case you’re wondering, no, Boise State doesn’t have a top 80 budget.

So there are a grand total of 13 schools with top 80 budgets who aren’t scheduled to be tied to a top five conference by the time the new playoff arrives.  And one of those — Notre Dame — is really sorta/kinda in the ACC.  Further, only a couple of those schools would help one of the major conferences grow its revenue from a television standpoint — Connecticut and Rutgers due to their locations.

Might the Big Ten expand to match the SEC and ACC at 14 schools by grabbing those two schools and lurching eastward?  Might the ACC finish off the Big East and grab Rutgers (Boston College leaders don’t want UConn in their league) and another school?  Could the Big XII add another couple of schools even though its leadership has gone on record as saying Notre Dame would really be the only school capable of increasing the league’s TV contracts?

In other words — and Alden’s own words tie into this — any new wave of realignment will likely be driven by schools trying to find a seat at the main table rather than by leagues looking to add schools.

Because of this, we still don’t think there will be that much more shuffling.  Sure, schools will be waving their hands and yelling, “Take me, take me!” but that’s not likely to make a conference open its doors.  Only the promise of additional revenue will do that.

As far as the SEC is concerned, only one school on the above list — Cincinnati — would even help to grow the league’s cable footprint for the purpose of expanding the league’s soon-to-come SEC Network.  But if you think the Bearcats and their 35,000-seat Nippert Stadium are high on Slive’s priority list right now, you’re dreaming.  (And the same goes for East Carolina which isn’t even among the top 80 in overall athletic budgets.)

Anything is possible when it comes to conference realignment, but most of the big budget schools have already found a big conference home.  And most of the small budget schools looking to become big budget schools don’t offer enough in terms of television worth to draw an invite from one of the big conferences.

Sure there may be some more shuffling coming.  Alden’s a sharp guy and you know he’s talked with Slive and other SEC athletic directors as well as those from around the country.  But we don’t expect any more grand shifts for a while.

We do, however, expect to have to cover hundreds of rumors of grand shifts starting the day after the NCAA Tournament ends next April.  ‘Cause that’s when many a website will go trolling for pageviews.  We saw it last spring with “reports” of a done deal between the Big XII, Clemson and Florida State.  Turns out, that wasn’t the done deal that so many had claimed.  (After Saturday’s loss to NC State, maybe the folks in Tallahassee should worry more about their own football issues than a lack of “quality” competition in the ACC.  It’d probably be best to actually beat ACC competition before lining up foes in a tougher league.)

More realignment?  Maybe.  More rumors and whispers of realignment?  Most definitely.

And we say, “Ugh,” in advance.

Thanks a lot, Mike Alden.

 


37 comments
HoustonVol
HoustonVol like.author.displayName 1 Like

One thing not to forget in all of this process - Academics. We love to toss around match ups and TV markets and contracts and dream. However there is a reason why the two most unstable major conferences this past go around were the Big East and the B12, the only major conferences without a academic alignment within conference memberships. It is a lot easier to change sports schedules than it is to change academic partnerships and agreements. It is estimated that ACC membership is valued at around $200 million in academic research and funding - per school. One of the best things that Slive did with the SEC was about 10 years ago start the process of academic progress of the league schools. I have said all along that Texas A&M's desire to join the SEC last year was all about academic funding and research - not athletic. The supposed call from TAMU to Slive came just after the state finalized the budget for the next two years. Texas passed a constitutional amendment a couple of years ago requiring the development of more tier one research universities in the state. Currently there are three, UT Austin, TAMU - CS and Rice. Slated to joined that club and were required to receive a larger share of state research funding were UH, UNT, UT-Dallas, UTSA, TxTech. Since there was no increase in taxes to fund the new schools, the current pie was split more ways. Now TAMU found itself competing with more instate schools for funding, and the top students. The school needed a different course. In the B12, it was always going to be over shadowed by TX-A. Plus the B12, at that time, had no academic partnership. Texas does not want or need a conference academic network because the UTx system out researches the rest of the B12 by itself. TAMU had to have something different to sell to researchers, funders, and potential students. The school also needed to promote itself to population growth states, which the SEC states are all growing in population. Where only Texas and OK are growth states in the B12. Academics and population growth was what lead ND to join the ACC and not the B10 or the B12. The B12 now is forming a academic partnership - less Texas. It was one of the demands of OU and OKst. to stop shopping for a new home. So I find it hard to see going less than 5 major conferences. Could there be scheduling and partnership agreements between the conferences. Yes. But remember conference affiliation is determined by the men and women with the bow ties - not the athletic departments. Until the media deals and such start bringing in vastly more money than the academic partnerships, not expect moves to be based upon athletics alone unless there is not an academic network in the old conference.

JRsec
JRsec

 @HoustonVol Your absolutely right about the academics.  At some point in the future, due to travel costs and local interests, Universities will need to consider having academic conferences and having those independent of athletic conferences.  That way they will be able to enjoy the best of both.  Many Division 1 (FBS) schools already have athletic departments that are totally independent in operations from the University's normal academic operations.  If television rewards compelling match-ups and grants are given for research capabilities and partnerships across universities for the purposes of that research, then these two aspects of every school need to become separate.  Such an arrangement could only strengthen the ACC and Big 10.

 

 It needs to be noted that the athletic accomplishments of the SEC have grown not only out of our cultural heritage, but also out of the diversity of schools within our region.  The SEC and Big 10 have been strong historically because of a solid cultural fit among their members.  When the culture of the Big 10 intentionally became exclusionary based upon academics their growth potential became limited.  The ACC has reached out to schools on the fringe of their academic acceptability to keep sports alive and it is not working for them.  The SEC needs to take note of these patterns.  We do need stronger academics for the purposes of research and grant revenue, but we also need to be able to take in universities which contribute through athletics.  Should A&M, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Alabama, Vanderbilt, and Auburn choose to be more a part of the research partnerships then they need to be able to form an Academic alliance (conference) for those purposes.  When it comes to athletics we need to be able to accept an Oklahoma State if the opportunity permits, or even a West Virginia.  The ability to increase our revenue in both areas needs not to be restricted. 

AllTideUp
AllTideUp

 @JRsec  @HoustonVol  This is just hearsay, but I think the SEC balked at Oklahoma State last year.  It's possible that both OU and OSU could have ended up in the SEC last year, but that never materialized.  The conventional wisdom is that OSU was not on par with what the SEC was looking for although it may have been more of a market issue not wanting 2 teams from OK.  Not sure.

 

I wonder though if academic reputation is as big a factor as it's reported as being if a school like SMU might be in the target of the SEC.  As far as schools with good rankings go, they seem to be the only ones that take sports seriously and are near the SEC footprint.

JRsec
JRsec

 @AllTideUp  @HoustonVol Well anyway you cut it counting Notre Dame there are 63 teams in the Big 5.  We are already 1 to 5 teams away from what will likely be our finishing number.  Now it's just going to be a matter of consolidation.  It will be motivated by decreasing overhead and maximizing income.  Maybe it happens sooner or later, or maybe we get stuck with a fifth wheel, literally.  My money is on the affects of increased economic pressure and fear of uncertain times.

AllTideUp
AllTideUp

 @JRsec  @HoustonVol  Unless there is something inconsistent with the contract that the ACC has in place for its schools, I don't think a court will come in and void that clause.  Each schools signs away a little bit of its freedom if they enter into a conference and they must first agree to abide by all the bylaws if they are to be allowed into the league.  I would love to have a VA and a NC school in the SEC, but my hopes of it went down with all the shuffling the last couple of years. 

 

There are 62 programs in the current big 5 conferences although many of the Western states are underrepresented.  The order we have now is awkward, inefficient, and it's not terribly pleasing to the fans.  Something needs to change one of these days.

JRsec
JRsec

 @HoustonVol  @AllTideUp In my reply to AllTideUp I was agreeing with his statement about not wanting two from such a small state.  I gave the rankings of both as an indication of which was preferable.  OU with 101 is certainly the pick.  The same could be said of Kansas and Kansas State.  The thing Kansas has in its favor is also a 101 ranking plus AAU status.  But again, no dice if its the pair.  And, Missouri does deliver a bit of the Kansas market.  It's going to be entertaining to see it work its way out and to see whether we stop with 5 conferences and the next additions to either the ACC or Big 12, or move to 4 conferences of 16 by dividing up the Big 12, or move to the most profitble scenario of three conferences of 20.  To accomplish 4 x 16 is the simplest.  Eight, or more, of the 10 teams leave the Big 12 after voting to disband.  3 x 20 is the one that is most logical in that it answers the needs of all three of the stongest conferences.  New markets for the SEC and Big 10 with the Big 10 matching its current profile and the SEC improving moderately with academic additions.  The PAC expanding markets but more importantly gaining strength.

 

As for the ACC's 50+ million exit fee:  1. The courts have to uphold it.  2.  The conferences can recoup that money by just not passing out the amounts of everyone's contractual increases for a period of two to three years following the additions of the new teams.  If Virginia Tech and N.C. State (just examples) each increased the income of the SEC by a million a piece (conservative estimate) then 42 million is recouped in three years time by not raising any of the existing SEC schools annual payout.  Missouri and A&M each paid out to the Big 12 about 23 million to join the SEC.  If you hold the new schools to the same standard that equals 46 million.  So in three years we have the two markets we want and 88 of the 100 million recouped.  In the fourth year there would be a minimal raise for the teams.  Not a long wait, nor a prohibitive inconvenience for a much bigger payday.  Remember too, if this happened in this manner both Virginia Tech and N.C. State would have earned back their payout in just two years.  11 million more per year in the SEC than the ACC equals 22 of the 23 million.  50 million is not an insurmountable barrier at all.

HoustonVol
HoustonVol like.author.displayName 1 Like

 @AllTideUp  @JRsec I doubt that the SEC would have passed on OU for either Academics or market - OU is 101, and that is the same rank as TN, and still in the top half or so of the conference. However the SEC did not want to double down on the state of Oklahoma for TV contracts.

AllTideUp
AllTideUp

 @JRsec  @HoustonVol   We have yet to see whether or not a $56 million exit fee is a prohibitive amount of money in this climate, but it' s possible that certain programs might be willing to leave the ACC.  I kind of doubt it though.  If Notre Dame doesn't get a new solo contract from NBC then they will most likely join the ACC in full and the conference will probably grab UConn or Rutgers to be at 16.  When the ACC hits 16, does that encourage anyone else to do the same?  Not sure.  ND's contract is up in about 2 years so is that the sort of shift Mike Alden is talking about?  I don't know.

 

I think you are right that the SEC wants into the VA and NC markets, but it doesn't look doable right now.  I think the SEC would leap at the chance to take OU if they could get another suitable partner, but the Big 12 looks stable as well now for about 12 more years.  Outside of the mid-major programs around, I don't see who else is truly available and looking to improve their situation.  And are any of the mid-majors truly worthy?  Outside of Louisville, I don't think so, but they don't represent a new market.

 

I think when all this expansion stuff started that the plan from Mike Slive was more complex than just absorbing A&M and Mizzou.  The reactions of other leagues to the shuffling though put a stop to any grander plans.  I know people have said the SEC had no desire to expand and that they simply reacted to Texas A&M's overtures, but I would think any good organization would have expansion plans in the back pocket in the event circumstances change.  The SEC and A&M had talks going back to the 80s so surely the long range plans of the conference were bold. 

JRsec
JRsec

 @AllTideUp  @HoustonVol I think you were right about two teams from Oklahoma, and the academic ranking of OU is 101st, that of the Cowboys is in the 130's.  I don't think we would pass on Okie State if we absolutely needed somebody to pair up with a big pick.  Boone Pickens can cover a multitude of transgressions with his pocket book.  As far as the Mustangs go they do have a good tradition and a 1.1 Billion with a B endowment for athletics, but they average around 30,000 at home games, not SEC stuff.  If we only add two to move to 16 the picks are a Virginia and Carolina school.  Ideally I think the SEC would really like Virginia and North Carolina.  But wanting them and getting them are two different things.  Maybe we could take Duke and Virginia Tech, but Duke probably wants to go where UVA and UNC go.  N.C. State and Virginia Tech therefore is the logical answer.  But, not the best answer.

 

What if De Loss Dodds has been checking around.  He could move to the ACC, but guess what, no football cache.  He could move to the Big 10, but Texas alumni wouldn't be happy with a bunch of rust belt Yankees.  He could move to the PAC but could he take enough teams from his area with him to make it work?  No.  The PAC wasn't keen on Texas Tech, two Oklahoma schools, or two Kansas schools.  They sure as Hades wouldn't be interested in 3 or 4 Texas schools.  Maybe they could get Iowa State, but that's a little disconnected and not exactly a national brand for TV.  The truth is Texas stuck with the Big 12 to buy time to try to work things out.  De Loss Dodds knows his Horns need a Florida connection to remain a national contender.  That's why he wanted Florida State and little else from the ACC.  Dodds also doesn't let anybody speak for the University of Texas without clearance.  Mack Brown has been making some noise in recent weeks about wanting an SEC like defense.  I find this odd coming from a man who wouldn't mention our conferences name when A&M joined up.  I think he has figured out the only way that UT survives and thrives is in a conference with strong football chops and a Florida connection and there is only one of those, us.  The real win win to 16 would be Texas and Virginia Tech, or Texas and Florida State.

 

I've felt all along the only way that we get a North Carolina and Virginia school is we take the lynch pin of ACC football.  Without F.S.U. to bolster their sinking status Virginia Tech would call us to get in.  Then maybe the Heels follow too, if not N.C.State accomplishes the task.  With Texas gone OU, OSU, KU, and KSU are in a bind.  WVU too.  For that matter ND would be up a creek in a conference slipping right out from under them.  With 18 in hand we might at least go for two more markets to close out at 20, or we might realize that the 18 we have is as good as it gets and stop.

 

Outside of that the merger option is still there.

NCSC
NCSC

SEC sitting so pretty it is ridiculous.  Wielding Darth Vader power over the national collegiate landscape, will they pick off teams from the Big 12 or ACC?  Could we see a team from the Big 12 get around the 13 year grant of rights (GOR) by agreeing to play no home games (only neutral site and away games) to get into the SEC.  Is that even an option to get around the grant of rights - not playing any home games.  If someone agreed to those terms that would be quite a statement about how much teams want to be in the SEC.  Please rip my logic in this paragraph apart, as I would like to know the truth about grant of rights and whether or not Texas actually has an "escape clause" as had been rumored recently.  What a statement it would be also if the SEC ever split up the two biggest basketball rivalries by having UNC join (already split up Mizzou and Kansas).  That would be Vader-like.

 

Are you saying the new playoff system is more likely to include 4 or 5 conferences?

 

Too bad that Tulane isn't listed in the top 80.  I had seen them as the 20th team for the ACC.  15 Notre Dame, 16 Navy, 17 UCONN, 18 Rutgers, 19 Army, 20 Tulane.  I think that Navy will join in full with ND in 2015.  And i think that 18 (three 6 team divisions with a wildcard playoff; two 9 team divisions can be done but would also cause difficulties) is a really difficult number for a conference than 20 (four 5 team divisions), otherwise UCONN and Rutgers would be more likely.  The negative is that UCONN and Rutgers would probably decrease overall revenue for the conference. 

 

I think they would only be likely to become members if the NCAA forced a movement to 20 team conferences, as hinted at in your article.  I just don't see who else (other than Tulane) that the 20th member could be.  Unless the ACC waits 26 years for Penn State's grant of rights to expire, or Baylor, Vanderbilt, or Texas.  I think the likelihood of those 4 are too small to discuss seriously (b/c they won't happen).  Most fans would prefer Louisville (including myself), but they are ranked the same as West Virginia by US News and World Report (#164) - so it won't happen.  Cincinnatti won't happen either - think they are ranked in the 130's.  The options really aren't that viable after #18 Rutgers.  Don't think Army and Tulane would really move the bell.  And, of course, there will be no Navy unless it is a deal for Notre Dame to be a full conference member.  

 

If you are saying only 4 conferences at the table, then I assume the ACC will be under the gun again with folks hoping to destroy the conference and distribute the teams to the great SEC and the crappy (from my perspective) Big Ten (B1G). 

 

On a side note:  Already looking forward to the Fedora Spurrier classic in Columbia - 1st Thursday 2013

JRsec
JRsec

 @NCSC Southern Methodist and Rice, or even Tulsa should be academic prospects for the ACC.  By the way if we ever think our way out of this box the universities should see the enormous advantage in forming Academic conferences for their grants and research projects and Athletic conferences for their sports teams.  It's absurd that universities have to be limited by trying to force both under one umbrella.  Think of how much stronger the ACC's athletic programs could be if this simple division were accepted and utilized.  Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Wake Forest and others could partner academically, and the West Virginia's and Louisville's of the world could compete against them in athletics.  The travel distance would be cut, more regional interest maintained, and the result would be more ticket sales, more travel to road games, and less overhead. 

DanHogan
DanHogan

Wow, people love to rearrange the pieces on the chessboard, don't they.  The last few moves have been stabilization moves, particularly Notre Dame.  They have a better home now so long as the travel considerations for olympic sports aren't unreasonably high.  The Big 12 could conceivably add 2 to get back to 12 and a championship game.  Regardless of if that happens, the Big East has a few more stabilization moves to make to hit either 14 or 16 long-term so they can find short-term stability. Otherwise, the top 5 are stable for some time and #6 will either live or die on it's own.  There's probably a mess to be cleaned up downstream of that, but the likelyhood of major moves is just about gone.

JRsec
JRsec

I agree about the number of profitable expansion candidates being extremely limited.  I just wonder if what we are about to experience is further consolidation.  There are three conferences with either conference networks, or coming conference networks.  They all need expanded television markets.  Alden mentioned an interesting range of prospective team numbers.  60, 64, and 68 all could be possible.  But sixty is the number that really stands out to me.  It is the approximate number of flagship schools both public and larger private that could be consolidated into three 20 team conferences.  Sending Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Iowa State, Baylor, and Texas Tech along with BYU to the PAC would expand them without having to dip into that other tier of teams they have tried to avoid.  It gives their conference greater strength and breadth athletically and expands their market.  If the Big 10 picked up Rutgers, Syracuse, Boston College and Notre Dame/Connecticut and Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia, and Duke from the ACC they would fit their academic profile in each case, expand their markets into New England and the mid-Atlantic South and gain more than a toehold in Southern recruiting.  The SEC would need six to do the same.  Virginia Tech and North Carolina State would give us the markets we desire, Florida State is a national brand and a profitable school to gain in spite of the footprint issue.  Clemson and Georgia Tech would enhance the academics even further, and it might attract the Longhorns who would join old SWC foes Arkansas and A&M again.  If not West Virginia would still be a new market.  I'm not trying to start a rumor, I just see how consolidation into three 20 team conferences for an upper tier might answer all three of the Big 3 conferences needs.  New markets and improved academics for the Big 10 and SEC, and quality of teams and a new market for the PAC.  So what I have is a question, "Do you think that consolidation into three large conferences of 20 each is a viable idea at some point, not in the immediate future, but not in the too distant future either?"

AllTideUp
AllTideUp like.author.displayName 1 Like

 @JRsec Here's a random thought you gave me when you mentioned consolidation.  I'm not sure your scenario is plausible just because 2 conferences would have to dissolve in order for it to happen.  It makes sense, but I'm just not sure those leagues' members are willing to go that route.

 

I wonder though if conference mergers may represent a viable alternative?  Let's say for instance that the goal of reaching into new media markets can only be accomplished by teaming up on them.  The SEC and Big 12, for example, decide a 24-team conference that unites pretty much every football crazy state along with most of the top programs is the best way to consolidate media presence and maximize revenue.  A conference network that saturates every state in this footprint and most of the biggest markets in all of college football would be an interesting sale not only in the footprint, but nationally as well.

 

Right now, 5 conferences competing against each other for media presence does give the networks some degree of leverage.  Not only is there less space on the networks to show all the games, but the players are limited especially with ESPN dealing on all sides of the table.  Not only does this sort of consolidation create a more powerful bargaining chip with networks, but it also creates unmatched inventory for a conference network.  Why worry about Alabama versus a cupcake, when you can have 3 conference match-ups on your network a week?  Under the BTN model, ad sales will produce about as much revenue for a conference network as the subscriptions will.  Well, those figures come from mostly cupcake games and/or limited number of conference games.  Think of the ad sales you can pull off with 3 conference games a week...

 

I'm not advocating for that, but I'm just wondering if that is plausible?

JRsec
JRsec like.author.displayName 1 Like

 @AllTideUp I've considered the merger option and have even thought that might work best for the Big 10 and Pac, but then there are the 15 teams of the ACC with roughly half of them in the North and the others in the South.  If you were going to do that then you would add a Rutgers or UConn to the ACC and either stop at 64, or split the ACC and simply have two conferences of 32 where everyone could conceivably play each other every 4 years if you used 8 pods of 4 and played against two other pods every  year.  That would be 11 games plus one scheduled against a permanent rival.  All 12 games would be contained within the conference.  Therefore all the games would essentially be quality games.  If it came to something like that I like Dabo's idea of having an actual opponent during the Spring game (which could be moved to the first or second week of August and could be played against an instate FCS school to spur interest and attendance.  That game would then become the 7th home game that all of these schools and the businesses that support them have come to expect and depend upon.

 

With regional groupings the playoff for the National Championship could be held among the final four of each of the two conferences and all other winning teams would be eligible for bowls against each other.  The bargaining leverage would be huge and the regional flavor of many of the games makes travel easy for fans and holds rivalry interest throughout most of the season.  The bowls would become an interesting measuring stick for each conference's seasons and the match-ups would be fairer.  Each conferences #5 through whatever would be paired against the other conference's counterpart.  The politics would be minimal and each year would bring some new foes and with it renewed interest.  Your thoughts would be appreciated. 

JRsec
JRsec like.author.displayName 1 Like

 @AllTideUp  @BonzaiB It's really just a matter of understanding market dynamics.  The brokers have more power than the product producers right now.  If the brokers are paying more money for better match-ups and the big push among the conferences is for larger markets it makes sense to push toward merger.  The containment of the games within a closed system also keeps revenue within the conferences.  It also prevents a scenario I have had some trepidation about, a switch from a market footprint model to one of market saturation.  Eventually, realignment will end.  When it does the networks will not want to pay two conferences full cable value for the same state.  Instead of the cable networks of each conference generating .90 cents for each household, if the state has two flagship teams in two different conferences the state cable rate will be split.  Each conference then suffers a reduction of .45 cents in their rate.  In Florida, North Carolina, and Texas the divide could get very interesting.  The networks have encouraged our division of the large states because it sets up larger profits for them when they switch models after the conclusion of realignment.  I spoke with a contract attorney about this prospect and at the conclusion of the current contracts there is nothing to prevent it, especially if the right to self produce no longer exists.  

 

A merger of the PAC and Big 10 and the Big 12 and SEC would force the remaining teams of the ACC and teams like Louisville, Rutgers and U Conn to seek a home.  It seemed to me we were heading in that direction with the Champs Bowl and Rose Bowl pairings.  Those bowls may one day serve as the mega conference championship games.  

 

From what research I've done on profitability, and depending on the split of those remaining teams, the mega conference that emerged in the South could encompass markets in as many as 20 states and still be organized geographically.  All schools involved should net more than now, but it would be slightly reduced with every four teams added past 60.  At 68 it is still profitable because the schools divided up in the states I've listed below would add third tier value sufficient to cover their entry.  If a move occurs to 72 for the final number of teams only the additions of the three service academies and the best mid-level team will keep potential profit in the picture.  (I'm not sure the academies want to play the largest schools.  Their height and weight restrictions increase their risk of injury against much larger opponents.)

 

The situation for the North would be very similar.  I would think the states of Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio, and Kentucky could be shared for markets between the two emerging conferences.  There would be sufficient market saturation in the North and South in spite of the shared states to prevent any kind of model switch from being detrimental to stable revenue flow.  

 

I believe the schools would have the security they are looking for and that there would be more balance between the power of the networks and that of the conferences.  The resulting stability could help us through the period of economic malaise we are likely to be locked into for a decade or longer.  It will take the passage of a lot of time for new job markets to be created.  The population is aging and the where-with-all to purchase property just won't be there for today's young people like it was for us.  A substitute for ad valorum losses will force new taxes.  Consolidation will come to higher ed.  So it's necessary to protect the flagship schools of our states.  Realignment is about everything but football.  Folks will eventually catch on.  Logic says that if all external factors remain the same the groupings get larger for strength and economic security. 

AllTideUp
AllTideUp like.author.displayName 1 Like

 @JRsec   I like the idea of letting everyone schedule an FCS team as a sort of preseason game that doesn't count on the record.  It's a good opportunity for 2nd stringers to get playing time and get some decent ticket sales because everyone's ready for football.

 

As far as home games go, the increased revenue from TV and playoff dollars should make up for any lost revenue from normal home games.

AllTideUp
AllTideUp

 @BonzaiB  @JRsec   And I suppose one of the reasons I am looking at it this way is because people in the know keep talking about further shuffling.  Mike Alden recently, but one of the higher ups at Vandy did the same thing last year and other officials have hinted that more realignment is coming.

 

I think in this case, where there's smoke there must be fire.  Too many people keep talking about it and unless we're all completely wrong about teams being willing to move out of the ACC or Big 12 under the current dynamics then I'm not sure what else the possible changes could be.  Surely, the SEC or other major conferences aren't going to go after mid-major programs that add little if any value. 

 

I shouldn't say that I'm predicting all this to happen, but it's the only shift I can think of that might be worth the effort.

AllTideUp
AllTideUp

 @JRsec  @BonzaiB   Speaking of the other conferences, I think JRsec and I are on the same wave length.

 

If this merger is as successful as we think it might be then there's going to be some response to this from the other leagues just like there was a response when it came to conference championship games and expansion.  I think there are 2 possible scenarios:

 

#1....Other teams will want in.  If the 24 team league is a revenue powerhouse then other programs will come calling.  That would mean teams in different markets will become the most desirable and that's similar to the situation now.  The only difference is that the current 5 big conferences are now pretty stable so new access to additional markets is very difficult when trying to apply the dynamics of the most recent expansions.  For this merged Big 12/SEC, those new markets or programs that would be the most desirable are the usual suspects....Florida State, UNC, Virginia Tech and the like.

 

#2...The PAC 12 and Big Ten, as the only other 2 cornerstone conferences remaining, would respond with their own merger.  It's correct that the ACC would have no legitimate merger partner available, but the ACC is weakest of the 5 major conferences.  In other words, the ACC is capable of being pulled apart, but not by any one league and certainly not in the current circumstances.  If 2 separate 24 team mega-conferences exist though then what is currently holding the ACC together no longer becomes relevant.  This is much like scenario # 1 except that the forces tugging on the ACC programs are coming from all sides.  Not sure if this is the case, but it may be possible for the ACC to simply break up and no one have to pay the $56 million exit fee.  Most of the ACC programs could find a home in this new setup.  You could then see 2 separate 28 or 30 or 32 team conferences emerge and all the heavyweights will have a place to land because they have value in the market place.  They won't be shut out of the new order.

 

You could have each league conduct its own conference playoff with whatever system they choose and the respective champions could then meet for a national title.  The system would make a lot more sense as far as how the regular season games and the media aspects are arranged.  It would also be much more efficient than even any of the playoff systems proposed thus far.

 

Now is this system more NFL-like?  Well, I suppose it is when it comes to the organization of it, but it's still college football.  You still have the regional identities, the rivalries, the intrigue of inter-regional match-ups, but you also get the more reasonable system for determining a champion along with the extra money in the market place.  And in the latter, the NFL is certainly ahead of the curve compared to college football.

 

As for the NCAA, the higher ups in that organization might not like it all, but they would have no jurisdiction.  The NCAA is only the governing body for the games themselves, they don't actually have any authority in how the conferences shape themselves.  If they did then I'm certain they would have stopped all the other expansions/realignment we've seen in the last 20 years.

JRsec
JRsec

 @BonzaiB  @AllTideUp I'm not speaking of a single game marriage.  I'm speaking of a 24 team conference with 4 divisions of 6.  Years ago the games were played mostly in conference and the conferences were large.  It provided for simplicity of scheduling with guaranteed games and convenient travel.  The economy is taking us back to that.  The value of the Big 12 is that they are considered to be the only conference powerful enough to compete with the SEC from top to bottom.  Merge the two and you have a monopoly on the best college football in the nation.  You maintain rivalries, increase the number AAU schools by 3 (Texas, Kansas, and Iowa State), multiply your Tier 1, 2 & 3 content exponentially, and increase your market by 4 states.  The biggest negative is acquiring 3 more teams from Texas than you would really want.  The greatest positive extraneous to the potential earnings would be that a conference of that magnitude would eventually attract the schools we would desire from the ACC.  Two 32 team conferences (a merger of the PAC and Big 10 plus 8 from the Big East and ACC) would wield much more leverage and would lessen the overhead by 3/5 ths of the duplicated expenses.  If they broke away from the NCAA they would actually make money on some minor sports with their networks, and could establish a living stipend for athletes.    The strength of scheduling would be more even and the bowl match-ups would be as well.  Let's say the playoffs one day expand to eight teams.  All of the bowl match-ups would be between teams finishing 5th or lower in their conferences.  Fives would play Fives and so on.  Since the teams would not have met during the regular season the interest in the competition would be greater.   It improves the quality of scheduling, which the networks want.  It improves the balance of competition, which most coaches want.  It groups the teams regionally, which most fans desire.  And, most importantly it eliminates redundant expenses that in most conferences takes the same profit as 1 university would receive.

 

By the way the popularity of most professional sports grew in unison with the nation's economic development.  More particularly it grew hand in hand with the earning potential of American workers.  Now that the latter is shrinking, so will professional sports.  That makes the networks investment in College Sports the greatest hedge fund against future sports calamity possible.  Large state universities will still have loyal followings when professional franchises start to fade. 

BonzaiB
BonzaiB

 @JRsec  @AllTideUp So, to really simplify this, looks like you are talking an NFL inter - league playoff system, with a single inter - conference game added to each individual team's schedule to "marry" the fans to create an interest between the B12 (or whoever) and the SEC. I do not see that happening, for about 10 reasons, mostly because that super league would change the entire dynamics of college relationships across the country. The scramble to create other "super leagues" would end up with PAC-12 / B1G and everybody else. I mean after the big 4 conferences align themselves, there is no possibility to find a third set of mergers. That effectively means Notre Dame, FSU and a couple of other big name schools would be in constant outlyer status for a national championship. 

 

Sounds interesting on its face, but college football is much more dynamic than pro ball, and by instituting this very rigid approach (once implemented, it would take decades to undo) goes against the fluid dynamics of college football. The other problem with this is it creates within college programs a "super recruiting cell" and that is a dynamic the NCAA has been trying to regulate into submission for decades. 

 

I for one would rather have completely seperate conferences to ensure the dymanic, if somewhat confusing and inefficient, nature of college ball. Thats what seperates it from pro-ball, and I personally can not stand the anti-septic, manufactured feel to the NFL.

JRsec
JRsec

 @AllTideUp I created a desirability chart for prospects from the ACC, Big 12, and included Louisville and Cincinnati form the Big East.  I weighted it for attendance, profitability of program, new market area, and academic rank.  Interestingly the top candidates were no brainers, Texas and OU,  Virginia and Virginia Tech tied for 3rd.  But here's where it get's interesting, Clemson was 5th.  Academics, profitability, and annual attendance were huge factors.   Kansas State tied Florida State for 8th position.  They are the third most profitable program out of all of the 21 prospects I looked at.  Iowa State was 11th. Oklahoma State was 7th and Texas Tech was 12th.  My point was that the Big 12 stacked up much better against the ACC candidates than I thought possible.  A merger would create an ultimate football conference talent wise.

 

What that merger would do is send Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3 through the roof.  I'm not sure that we wouldn't want to play all 12 games in conference.  Five divisional games, 6 from another pod, and 1 permanent rival.  How you make this palatable is by using Dabo's idea with some modifications.  Move the Spring game to the second week of August and play an in-state FCS team in lieu of it.  That becomes an official preseason game and the 7th home ticket for the athletic department of each conference school,  The period for practice assigned to the Spring could be moved up prior to the preseason game.  Rules could be changed to allow group conditioning to be maintained year round as long as pads, contact, and plays are not part of it.

 

Your ideas about the business end are very sound.  Keeping the finest football in the nation self contained during the season would heighten interest in all of the bowl match-ups that exist beyond the playoff.  The only modification that I would like to see is the replacement of Baylor, and T.C.U. with Clemson and Florida State, or Virginia Tech and Florida State.  But that's irrelevant to the potential of the outright merger. 

AllTideUp
AllTideUp

 @JRsec Personally, I like anything that gives the game more symmetry.  I'm just anal that way ;)

 

From what I understand, the conferences back in the early days of college football were huge.  I believe the SEC, when it formed, broke off from the old Southern Conference and its remnants essentially became what is now the ACC.  I suppose we could go back to something like the old system if the money makes sense.

 

I think something crazy might have to happen to shift the paradigm away from the current big 5, but I'm not sure what that is.

BonzaiB
BonzaiB

 @AllTideUp  @JRsec That would require a very close alignment between conferences that would drive an increase in audience participation across leagues, so what creates that bond? Do fans from Mizzou and A&M care what happens in the B12 right now, at all? Does the B12 care about what happens to them? Bottom line, when a school leaves a conference, those fans whose teams are still in those conference pretty much stop watching them.

 

The kicker to make a confernece on conference "buzz" sufficient to create a dedicated cross over viewing public is a tie in at the end of the season (the Super Bowl did that for the pro's), and there is no tie in. Or, you create a large number of cross over games (like the NFL does it) between conferences during the regular season that impact the conference title run for both conferences (Texas versus Alabama, where the w'l actually would affect who wins either conference). I don't see that happening for about 10 reasons.

 

I can already watch all the B12 football I want, I just turn on the tube. But really, I don't watch them much, as the SEC has 3 to 4 games every Saturday, and that is a ton of football (I meean really, how many hours are you going to sit in front of the tv on Saturday?).

 

Can't see a conference on conference scheduling system that would work, and without that, the dedicated viewing share for a conference is not going to increase without that.

 

 

JRsec
JRsec

 @BonzaiB  @AllTideUp If there was a merger between the SEC and Big 12 then all of the games would become conference games and I assure you the interest level would be as high as ever.  The upper tier would be best served by three conferences.  It is the only system in which each of the top three conferences can maintain some geographical integrity, obtain what they need (PAC strength of talent pool, Big 10 expanded markets for privately owned networks and Southern recruiting ties, and the SEC solidification of it's region with vastly enhanced market share) and  cut the overhead of the five conferences by 2/5 ths.  That adds to income as well.  The bargaining leverage as AllTideUp points out would be huge.

AllTideUp
AllTideUp

@BonzaiB

 

It's not just that the inventory makes it possible, but also makes it necessary.  When you have enough inventory at your disposal to compete head to head with any sports network out there then the only way to make money off of it is to use it.  Whether fans in Florida or Alabama are watching Texas and Texas Tech on the conference's network or not doesn't mean plenty of people in Texas or around the nation aren't watching.  If the game is compelling enough to be on a major network now then the ad sales alone from this broadcast and the fact that everything stays in house will make it worth the while. 

 

One person may only be able to watch 3 or 4 games in a weekend at the most, but each person may not watch the same 3 or 4 games.  The more teams of interest you have available and the more markets you have access to then the larger the potential audience you have for the entire slate of games regardless of the limitations of any one individual.  Several networks are already broadcasting competing games and sometimes even from the same conference.  Despite that, everyone keeps doing it and expanding coverage nearly every year as a matter of fact.  They must be making money doing it or they would have abandoned this model long ago.

 

What allows the model to work is the varying interests of the consumer.  We focus on quality SEC teams around here, but we stick with the home team first in all situations.  After that we may gravitate to a hated rival or a big intra-league match-up.  Every market doesn't focus on the SEC though.  Markets focus on local teams for the most part and so the more markets you can bring under one umbrella, the greater potential you have.  It's the same principal at work when a big retail chain buys up another big retail chain in another part of the country.  Separately, the two entities have the potential to do just fine, but together they are even stronger as long as they have competent management at the top.  I don't see how it could be much different for conferences.

 

I'll admit though that I'm no business major and I don't know for a fact that the numbers add up.  Heck, I've only been thinking about this concept for about a day now...lol.  Anyway, this is how I could see it working.

 

Sorry for the long posts...

AllTideUp
AllTideUp

 @BonzaiB  I see what you're saying, but I'm talking about more of a professional or legal relationship between the conferences.  If this sort of merger occurred then I doubt traditional SEC fans in AL are going to be lining up to watch Kansas vs Kansas State just because there is some sort of official tie.  I agree with you on that, but I'm looking at this more from a media presence and market share perspective.

 

Here's how I view the framework:  Let's say you take the 24 teams from these 2 leagues and divide them up into 4 separate 6 team divisions. 

 

---The winners of the respective divisions meet in a 4 team playoff for the conference title at the end of the season.

 

---Instead of 8 or even 9 conference games, you play 10.  5 home and 5 away.

 

---You cut off one regular season game to bring the grand total to 11.  Some schools may choose to use that 11th game to schedule a cupcake whereas some will schedule an OOC rival or another BCS level program.  The reduction back to 11 games paves the way for a 4 team conference playoff that does not add games to the current schedule.   Imagine Thanksgiving weekend playing host to the top 4 teams from this league duking it out rather than the average slate of conference games.  It clearly takes center stage over everyone else.

 

---Nationally speaking, teams coming from this SEC-Big 12 merger are in a uniquely strong position to make any national playoff because of the increased strength of schedule and the additional exposure(more on that in a second).  The SOS component could actually be very important here because a school's rating is looked at more favorably if they are playing quality OOC games.  The sheer magnitude of this merged conference creates what amounts to numerous quality OOC games every year.  You don't have to worry about finding a spot to schedule quality teams from another region when you are scheduled to play them every few years anyway.

 

---As for the schools themselves, you increase the number of BCS level games from 8 or 9 to a guaranteed 10 and 11 in some cases.  This not only increases the SOS, but makes a larger number of games more interesting to fans whether that be TV viewers or through increased ticket sales.  The intrigue of playing teams from other regions rarely, but now within a conference context is similar to what makes OOC games intriguing now.  Not only are you playing teams you rarely see, but the game counts for something tangible outside of just a national title hunt that would normally only be relevant to a few teams.

 

---And now comes the major motivation.  Between the top programs of the SEC and Big 12, there are plenty of quality games to show on major networks on a week to week basis.  There's no major change there other than Texas/Alabama or Oklahoma/Florida all of a sudden have conference implications rather than just big game implications.  That's a plus on the media side of things.

 

The big difference though comes through the conference network idea that has been so key to all the most recent realignment moves.  Currently, these conference networks are slated to show a large number of cupcake games, the occasional conference game and that's about it as far as actual worthwhile inventory during football season.  The network subscriptions are a big part of the revenue and any additional guaranteed markets just add to the first pot, but just as important are the advertising dollars.

 

10 conference games for 24 teams leaves a rather large amount of inventory for any network...so much in fact that there is no way ESPN/CBS/FOX could carry it all and maintain any sensible obligation to the other leagues.  But for a conference this large and far reaching, it is no longer necessary to use partner networks to carry all of your quality games.  Instead, the inventory available during football season for this merged conference actually rivals any one of the cable networks that devote themselves to high quality college football.  The slate of games available in any given week would match what any of these networks broadcast and depend upon for so much revenue.

 

Just as the SEC broke away from the ABC monopoly many years ago and started using CBS as a conference-centric broadcast partner, this new league could also break away from the monopoly that the 3rd party cable networks have now.  Why sell all the games of 24 separate teams to a 3rd party when you can keep it all in house? 

 

The breath and scope of this type of league makes it impossible for the ESPNs of the world not to keep broadcasting your big games as they risk losing too much quality programming and the product demand will assure that.  At the same time, the unified front of what are currently two competing entities in the SEC and Big 12 start grabbing up market share rather than fighting over ratings.

 

And what about problems finding carriers?  Does a network dedicated to the two best athletic conferences in the country have a problem finding subscriptions in every market within its footprint and several outside of it?  With 3 conferences games on Saturday, throw in a conference game on Thursday night, consider the basketball for the Winter, and anything else that might be of interest.  I don't see any major problems in getting an audience and doing it quickly.  The demand will be too high.  It would be akin to your local carrier not taking on ESPN2.  The number and quality of games from week to week will be very comparable if not superior.

HoustonVol
HoustonVol

I have always felt that the forces for alignment are not done. I also don't think that when the B12 expands, it would be just by two teams. The numbers just don't add up. There are not two teams that bring value. However what I can see the B12 doing is expanding to 16 teams by grabbing up to 6 teams through the NE corridor (and maybe BYU). This will bring in closer rivals for WVU, and tap large TV markets for an expanded TV deal. I don't see the B10 expanding because if they wanted to expand with Rutgers, Uconn, or any other school, it would have already been done. If the B10 expands it will be south, and there is only one "southern" school that would be worth it and that is Texas. There are not any schools or markets for the PAC to expand with in their natural footprint. Until the ND issue is settled, the ACC will  not expand again until they need a football team to balance out adding ND football. The SEC will  never add Texas (neither is willing to work with the other). So the only viable schools out there for the SEC to expand with are L'ville, OU, Kansas, and maybe ECU, so I don't see the SEC expanding unless some major ACC schools come available in NC and VA to expand the footprint. So expect, if/when  something happens, it will be the B12 making the power move to grab the TV markets from L'ville to UConn from  the Big East. 

AllTideUp
AllTideUp

If NBC doesn't resign a deal with Notre Dame in a couple of years then you could finally see them join a conference in football and that almost certainly would be the ACC.  If that occurs then the ACC probably adds another to make an even 16.  Rutgers or UConn would seem to be the prime candidate for those spots.

 

The Big East is going nowhere.  They have no bell cow programs and they are now essentially what CUSA was 10 years ago.  Ironically, the only program they have that is a true revenue producer is Louisville and they might have a shot at moving into one of the big leagues sooner than later.

JRsec
JRsec like.author.displayName 1 Like

 @AllTideUp Sorry for the redundancy in a few of the previous posts, I was on meds dealing with a stone, and not as mentally agile as usual.  The point I wanted to add to our previous discussion, and I do think we see eye to eye on a great deal of it, is that we need to be careful if such mergers ever occur not to dismiss the less successful programs out of hand.  I don't think we could because of the rules regarding the dissolution of individuals conferences.  I know it takes 8 votes to disband the Big 12.  I'm not sure what the ACC requirements are, but a safe assumption would be 3/4's.  So, the first point is that if that should ever transpire then at least 18 teams total between the Big 12 and ACC would have to be placed in one of the new mega conferences for dissolution to be possible..

 

I agree the most profitable, and most workable conference size post merger would be between 28 and 32 teams each.  But, even 36 in not untenable provided the last 8 teams are zippered between the two mega conferences.  Which brings me to my second point about conference size.  If conferences are too compact with highly successful programs and annual bowl attenders, the fan bases of those schools will become disillusioned with their programs when annual 8-4 teams slip to 6-6 and annual 6-6 teams slip to 4-8.  We need  some Duke's, Vanderbilt's, Kansas's, Wake's and the like not only to keep up academics but to balance out the strong programs.  We don't need the former FCS schools that bumped up in the last 5 years, or schools with enrollments so small they can't fill even smallish venues.  I would argue that Louisville, Rutgers, Connecticut, and Cincinnati are deserving of spots.  Teams like Cincinnati, South Florida, Nevada, or possibly Boise would definitely be on the bubble in the new format.  At 64 teams they don't make it.  At 72 they could, but unless the 3 service academies are in the final 8 to make 72 then the whole process of going to 72 becomes too unprofitable to make it work.  What I mean by zippering the last eight teams is this.  The North/West conference will already have the Ohio market and Pennsylvania markets with Ohio State and Penn State.  Cincinnati and Pittsburgh might not make a field of 60 or 64.  But if they are added as rivals for Kentucky, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, and Maryland it makes sense, and the market shares of Ohio and Pennsylvania might just cover their entrance without anyone losing money.  The same might be said of Louisville or South Florida moving North.  If the Northern Conference lands Duke, UNC, and Virginia then certainly either of those schools could help to form a 4 or 6 team division.

 

From a scheduling and profit only point of view two 32 team conferences divided into 8 pods of 4 is the most workable.  But, the loss of teams like Louisville, South Florida, Pitt, or Cincinnati will leave many disillusioned viewers in large markets who might not want to support the new upper tier teams as they have as secondary fans in the past.  The result could be a decline in total upper tier viewership of 10 plus points off of the ratings.  Not disastrous, but potentially costly.  Add that to increased losses due to not having a wide enough mix of teams and there is a downside.  I'm interested in your thoughts. 

AllTideUp
AllTideUp like.author.displayName 1 Like

 @JRsec  Yeah, I agree that a few weaker programs in the mix are actually helpful as long as the fan bases help with the market aspects. 

 

The way I look at it this way, if an SEC/Big 12 merger took place then all the current programs in these leagues will be safe whether they happen to be terribly influential or not.  I don't think we're living in a world where an outside power or any one conference could cherry pick from another league.  In order to create the type of dynamics that would encourage the ACC to break up then I think the merger of all the combined SEC and Big 12 teams would have to first take place.

 

One of the reasons I thought the Big 12 would have to be one of the leagues that agrees to a merger is because they have a 13 year grant of rights contract.  Unless I misunderstand the whole concept of that, I don't think any team in that league would consider leaving for at least 11 or 12 years because the punitive loss of revenue would be too great to make it worthwhile.  The ACC doesn't have that sort of agreement.  The big hindrance to anyone leaving that league is the gigantic exit fee.  I think the SEC would also be interested in partnering with the Big 12 because of the quality of the product and the potential to sell the combined product nationally.

 

Let's say it all works out like that, and in response the Big 10 and PAC 12 do the same.  I think most of the ACC programs are valuable in this new dynamic so there should be at least 3/4 of that league that wishes to bolt for greener pastures and are capable of doing so.  We don't know if UConn or Rutgers will ever be invited to the ACC in the near future or, assuming these mergers happen, before all the craziness begins to occur.

 

Let's say though that Florida State, Miami, Georgia Tech, Clemson, UNC, NC State, and Virginia Tech all end up joining the Southern league.  This would consolidate all the markets that the Southern league have a presence in except for VA and IA.  Duke and Wake Forest probably get left out of this new order because of their relative lack of gravitas.  Outside of decent basketball programs, they have no real following or alumni base.  Their market presence is very small.  Louisville, being a pretty strong program and revenue producer, I think would also end up in the Southern league over other options. 

 

Virginia, Maryland, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, UConn, Rutgers, Boston College, and Notre Dame would probably be more interested in the Northern/Western league due to the academics and proximity.  I think that desire would be mutual as well for the same reasons.

 

That brings the total of both mega-conferences to 32.  There might be a few programs that would otherwise be worthy of inclusion, but just happen to be in markets that are already thoroughly saturated or are on the bubble and just don't make the cut for the purpose of organization.

 

I think also at this point that the 8 separate 4 team pods would also work best and create the most flexibility for good match-ups and preserving traditions.

JRsec
JRsec

 @AllTideUp I think the State of Virginia would just be happy that both teams were well placed.  Things are a bit more complicated in North Carolina.  I believe I read where all 5 schools are represented by the University System of North Carolina.  North Carolina and Duke have the most influence although N.C.State, Wake and East Carolina are represented as well.  I'm not sure about all the other schools like N.C. Wilmington, N.C. Ashville, etc.  My guess would be that if the Big 4 were taken that would satisfy the system because earning would be up for all four.  Obviously the two state schools would be preferred because of their size and alumni base.  But, Duke is quite well endowed and holds it's own in earning power as a national hoops brand.  The question would be who has to take Wake.  They also are a better fit up North, but neither conference would want 3 N. Carolina schools.  Louisville doesn't rank as low as either Texas Tech or Mississippi State, but you are probably right about their chances up North.  I believe their new ranking is 159.  I think the Irish stick with Syracuse, Boston College, U.N.C. and Virginia.

 

I heard some rumors up North that if they expanded South they may even look as far south as Atlanta and try to get Tech.  If they did Miami is not too much of a reach for them, except that it is private.  But it would put them in Florida.  They know that if they don't improve their Southern recruiting they are done as a contender.  It's another reason I think in the numbers crunch Pittsburgh might be available if this kind of scenario ever happens.  They are rivals with Maryland and West Virginia.  Anyway, it will be interesting.

AllTideUp
AllTideUp like.author.displayName 1 Like

 @JRsec  Yeah, my guesses on how the ACC may break up are more based on the idea of market saturation being a primary goal.  The Big Ten and PAC 12 would probably put a higher premium on academic prowess so schools like UNC and Virginia would be higher targets than others, but I also wonder what, if any, the individual state politics might play in all this.  North Carolina's university system is all under one umbrella and would they prefer both schools to be in the same league or would they see a split as beneficial?  Not sure on that.  Same thing with Virginia although their 2 primary schools have only been together for a short time and I'm not sure if the administrations of the 2 schools are officially linked in any way as in NC.  UNC and UVA may also be more inclined to seek out the Big Ten/PAC 12 as well and maybe even spurn an SEC/Big 12 offer.  I'm just not sure.  Duke and Wake are both private and so they wouldn't really fall into the arena of politics.  I could be wrong, but I'm just not sure their marketability is there.

 

I do think the academic aspect will keep Louisville out of the Northern league.  They are ranked fairly low even among SEC teams so that's just a guess that if Louisville makes a move that it would be into the Southern league.  Miami or South Florida?  USF is in better shape right now and it's a state school, one of the largest in the country so I think they probably have a chance to become a great program one day.  Miami has the brand ID nationally right now and that might be enough to get them included in any new order.  They might both be in when it's all said and done.  I'm not sure.  My guess on Pittsburgh is based on the saturation idea as well as the academic status.

 

I think a wild card in all this is whether or not a program like Notre Dame may actually decide to align itself with the sun belt states.  I think that was one of their primary reasons for going with the ACC over other options.  Depending on who lands in the Southern league, that might also determine where Notre Dame goes.  That would be an interesting break as far as markets go.

JRsec
JRsec like.author.displayName 1 Like

 @AllTideUp We're definitely in the same ballpark in reasoning.  I've done some checking on the Big 12 grant of rights.  It would take a three quarters vote to amend the bylaws of the Big 12 to permit a vote for dissolution.  Eight placed teams could achieve dissolution.  But, I agree a total merger would be the quickest resolution.  I can even see the Longhorn Network being morphed into one of the SEC's regional network channels if this should come about.  It would  save ESPN's investment and save Texas a loss of face over that situation.

 

As for the ACC there would be no 50+ million buyout if the teams were all compelled to get in line with  a power move by the other four conferences to pull of a merger like the one of which we speak.  I do believe that Jim Delaney and Larry Scott would be thinking along the lines of Mike Slive and Bowlsby should such a thing ever take place.  They would be looking to expand the market footprint before looking for strategic solidification.  For instance there are more cable homes in Maryland than in most of the States that would be involved in the Big 12/SEC merger.  Taking Virginia and North Carolina would be a geographical fit, but should such a split ever occur I believe they would be happy to head North.  N.C.State and Virginia Tech are both more profitable athletically than U.N.C. and U.V.A. but of course are nowhere near those two academically or in grant money.  The Big 10 gains very little monetarily by adding Pitt, but the SEC would.  The SEC gains only academically by adding North Carolina to a conference that would also include N.C.State.  Louisville is more profitable to the North than to the South in this scenario.  In the South one of the least attractive candidates is Miami.  I know their history is rich,  I know their academic ranking is about 39th, but their average attendance is about 38,000 a game and the travel is brutal and that doesn't include looming sanctions.  The attendance at South Florida is already at 52,000 and the campus is growing.  I'm not saying they should be selected, but their future is much brighter than that of the Canes.  Personally I think Duke and Wake Forest should join the Ivy League.  Duke's academic ranking is up to 8th nationally and Wake's is about 24th.  Duke's endowment is staggering.  Their basketball cache and profitability exceeds the football returns of some of the teams near the bottom of our 64 team pool.  I'm not saying my suggestions for alignment are better than yours, I prefer all Southern ACC teams if we go that route, but I'm just saying I wouldn't be surprised to see some border sharing going on in such an arrangement.

 

We'll see.  Alden seems to think the timeline is a couple of years.  That may be optimistic.  Between 5 and 10 seems more likely.  The economic conditions are likely to remain in place or worsen.  Only the new playoff system could speed things up.  No major conference wants to risk a year in which their cut is significantly lower than the other conferences.  If merged they would all be guaranteed shares.  Academic leaders are more comfortable with guarantees than uncertainty.  That's why I think this is very possible.  If it were just business leaders making decisions I would guess that we would stay at 5 conferences where 4 of them were likely to make more each year by not sharing with the 5th. 

 

I know there are those who don't want structure, but it is far more profitable.  It's wastes less, leverages more, helps insure economic survival of all of the teams, and it offers greater uniformity for the training of officials, and the development of Olympic and minor sports.

 

Also, when you are brainstorming the coming networks don't ignore NCAA baseball as a sport to be developed.  It's popularity is growing and during basketball season can offer extra programming on those nights when basketball is traditionally not as available.  Take care. 

MoKelly1
MoKelly1

Looking at the list of bigger budget schools not aligned with one of the 5 power conferences, the Big East really stands out. Is there no way the Big East can fix themselves and become a viable Conference once again? If they could fix their issues, it seems to me the whole re-alignment issue would be resiolved. There would be 6 power conferences and all schools would essentially be covered.  I also wonder sometimes why these Athletic directors and Presidents don't just focus on their schools and simply be quiet on speculation about realignment. They have to know what they say creates rumors and angst.

DanHogan
DanHogan

 @MoKelly1 I doubt the Big East can do much of anything to become a big budget conference.  Having said that, they are well on their way to becoming a very interesting conference #6 nationally.  Bringing in Navy for football never made sense to me but going after Army / Air Force makes it more interesting.  I also really like the idea of the service academies being able to play football at all sorts of tier 3 stadiums coast-to-coast on a yearly basis while still minimizing the travel expense for other sports. 

 

I see the BE doing a TV deal with NBC and televising 5-6 games nationally every week.  I see an NBC/NBC Sports reverse mirror at noon, Notre Dame at 3:30 on NBC (when at home) with a BE game on NBC Sports, and another reverse mirror in the evening.  Add a few games here and there on, say, Friday evening on NBC Sports and they could have some stuff to put up against ESPN/ABC.  It obviously won't beat ESPN, but it would be one more destination for the picture-in-picture. 

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