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Big Bang Theories: The Countdown To Super-Conferences (Part 1)

As the power brokers of the college football world steered their sport toward a brave new world featuring a four-team playoff, it was widely believed that most conferences would slow down a bit on the expansion and realignment front.  Instead, the Big Ten craftily nabbed Maryland from the ACC and Rutgers from the Big East last month, setting off yet another wave of changes, long before the new playoff format and revenue split had even been fully fleshed out.

After the Big Ten’s shocking move, it was only a matter of time before more dominoes began to fall.  And with seven Big East basketball schools deciding last week that they would break away from the Big Whatever, we believe the Big Bang is here.  We mean the big, Big Bang, too.  Super-conferences rising.  Small leagues folding or partnering with one another for survival.  A super-division of the richest four or five conferences separating itself along a haves and have-nots border.  Television executives dropping stone dead from exhaustion as they negotiate, renegotiate, and then renogotiate again major TV deals worth billions of dollars.

In other words, we’re on the brink of a full-on, A-1, top-drawer madhouse.

We’ve examined conference expansion at MrSEC.com dating back three-plus years now.  We’ve taken a by-the-numbers approach each time because that’s what all this mess has been about — numbers.  Last October we put together a 10-part series on the math of conference expansion/realignment and you can find the final summary to that series here (as well as links to all the other nine parts).

But this latest burst of expansion is an even simpler breakdown.  This time, you can just follow the money.  Schools are looking for new homes because they want to guarantee themselves larger revenue streams.  Many would like to find some stability, too, but the key factor is the cash.

A seat is nice.  A comfy throne is better.

Meanwhile, conferences are trying to cash in on television deals and playoff revenue.  With the Big East on the verge of being adios’ed, it’s already been snipped from the list of major football conferences.  Instead of six big conferences splitting the lion’s share of postseason cash, in the future just five leagues will dominate the playoff era.  And that’s only if the ACC survives.  If it gets picked apart a la the Big East — and money suggests it will be — then there will be but four big-time leagues to horde the majority of playoff cash.

Those four conferences will also dominate the television landscape.  For half a decade, folks have debated whether the SEC got things right by inking huge contracts with CBS and ESPN or whether the Big Ten made the shrewdest move in launching its own TV network.  Turns out, they were both smarter than the rest of the pack.  To make the haul of greenbacks as big as possible, a conference wants both huge, national television contracts and its own network.

So this round of moves comes down to much simpler math than anything we’ve seen before in the expansion/realignment game.  It’s about revenue and it’s about cable households.  Sure, some leagues won’t take schools if they don’t fit a certain academic profile, but now more than ever academics are taking a bigger backseat to cash and television ratings.

With that in mind, this week, we’re going to provide you with some very simple data.  Today, we’ll look at the schools that might be interested in switching conferences.  It’s not hard to figure out which schools would listen to another league’s offer.  Just look at the revenue.

We’ve taken the US Department of Education’s most recent figures regarding collegiate athletic budgets nationwide — from fiscal year 2011-2012 — and we’ve broken things down by league.  By “league,” we mean by the leagues as they’re currently supposed to look in the future.  Have we listed a school in the wrong conference somewhere on this list?  Probably.  Schools are jumping from one league to another at warp speed.  What was correct when it was written might be wrong by the time you read it.  Yes, it’s that crazy.

But you can still get a good idea of which leagues are bringing in the biggest amount of cash (and which conferences should have the easiest time finding new dance partners) by looking at the tables below.  Just be sure to keep three things in mind:

 

1.  We’re using gross revenue.  As schools can cook their books to make it look like they’re really making less money than they are, we’re avoiding the athletic expense and net income lines.  We just want to see the full amount being brought in by each school.  The differences from athletic department to athletic department and conference to conference are truly eye-opening.

2.  This is a one-year snapshot of revenues.  Missouri’s sports revenue should get a nice boost in the next fiscal year as it’s shifted from the Big XII to the more profitable SEC.  Northern Illinois will get an enormous lift from this year’s Orange Bowl appearance.  So what you’re looking at could have been impacted by losing seasons, unpopular coaches, facility building projects that might have cut into stadium/arena capacity, etc.  Or a school might have won a championship and sold more merchandise than usual to boost its revenue.   This data is for one year only, but it’s still telling.

3.  Amazingly the biggest FBS school in terms of 2011-12 revenue (Texas) brought in about $153 million more than the smallest money-maker in the FBS (Louisiana-Monroe).  Staggering.  And if you can’t see the motivation for a school like Maryland to move to the Big Ten then you’re not looking very hard.  This past fiscal year, Maryland took in $62.6 million in athletic revenue.  In the new 14-school Big Ten to come, that number would rank 12th ahead of only Northwestern and fellow newbie Rutgers.  By entering Jim Delany’s league, however, the Terrapins have guaranteed themselves a bigger payday each year.  In turn, that should guarantee that Maryland athletics won’t fall behind the best programs in the country for financial reasons.

 

As we go through this series of breakdowns, we also want you to remember that conference expansion/realignment is not about you.  Or us.  Or any of our wishes.  College presidents and conference commissioners aren’t trying to make things easier or better for football fans.  They’re out to make money.  So while the quaint idea of having four 16-school super-conferences might make for nice symmetry, that’s not likely to be the end result of all the moves to come.  As stated above, this is about cash and television (meaning both cable households and content).

So without further ado, here are the FBS conferences as they’re currently scheduled to look by 2015.  Take a gander at those revenue numbers.  The smaller the number, the more willing a school’s board members will be to abandon its current conference for a spot in a higher-dollar conference.  We’ll start at the top of the food chain from a revenue perspective and move our way down through all 10 remaining conferences and the football independents.

 

Southeastern Conference

  Current of Future School   Total Revenue in ’11-’12 in Millions
  Alabama   124.1
  Florida   120.2
  LSU   113.9
  Auburn   105.9
  Tennessee   105.8
  Arkansas   99.7
  Georgia   91.6
  South Carolina   87.6
  Kentucky   85.6
  Texas A&M   79.0
  Missouri   61.2
  Vanderbilt   55.8
  Mississippi State   54.8
  Ole Miss   42.9

 

The total revenue for those 14 schools was $1.22 billion in 2011-12.  That’s billion with a B.  That’s a per-school average of $87.7 million in total athletic revenue.

The SEC has six schools at or above the $100 million mark.  And revenue will only rise further with an SEC Network, re-worked television contracts, and a massive portion of the revenue from football’s soon-to-launch playoff.

There’s a reason the SEC has no exit fee for member institutions.  No one’s going anywhere.

 

Big Ten Conference

  Current or Future School   Total Revenue in ’11-’12 in Millions
  Ohio State   142.0
  Michigan   128.7
  Penn State   108.2
  Wisconsin   101.4
  Iowa   97.4
  Minnesota   83.6
  Nebraska   81.6
  Michigan State   79.0
  Indiana   72.0
  Purdue   70.4
  Illinois   63.9
  Maryland (future)   62.6
  Northwestern   61.1
  Rutgers (future)   57.4

 

The total revenue for those 14 schools was $1.20 billion in 2011-12.  That’s a per-school average of $86.3 million in total athletic revenue.  The Big Ten — had Maryland and Rutgers been in the league this past year — would have been the SEC’s only real competition from a revenue standpoint.

The Big Ten’s moves for the Terrapins and Scarlet Knights suggest that the conference is still in growth mode.  Will that league’s presidents vote to expand again to 16, 18, or beyond?  We believe they will if they think it can further boost league revenue.

 

Atlantic Coast Conference

  Current or Future School   Total Revenue in ’11-’12 in Millions
  Louisville (future)   87.8
  Florida State   81.4
  Virginia   81.3
  North Carolina   78.8
  Duke   78.6
  Syracuse (future)   73.2
  Clemson   66.9
  Boston College   66.1
  North Carolina State   65.5
  Virginia Tech   64.8
  Miami, FL   62.0
  Georgia Tech   60.2
  Pittsburgh (future)   56.3
  Wake Forest   48.7

 

The total revenue for those 14 schools was $971.6 million in 2011-12.  That’s a per-school average of $69.4 million in total athletic revenue.

Louisville — ironically enough — would have been the biggest money-maker in the league this past fiscal year.  Now, the ACC is certainly more stable than the Big East and the Cardinals figured to make less money moving forward had they stayed in that conference (even if it had survived).  Still, it’s odd to see a top 20 school in terms of revenue shift leagues.  That tells you that Louisville AD Tom Jurich and the folks in Northern Kentucky realized just how doomed their old league really was.

When you compare the ACC’s numbers to those of the other major conferences, it’s easy to see why we believe John Swofford is captaining a sinking ship.  The league ranked third in overall revenue in 2011-2012, but new TV deals stand to push the Big XII and the Pac-12 past the ACC in future years.

We’ve talked to multiple sources at various SEC schools, inside the college sports industry, and inside the collegiate equipment-supply business over the past two weeks.  Of all the scuttlebutt we’ve heard during those talks, the two most widely held beliefs are that Georgia Tech and Virginia are already good to go to the Big Ten and that Delany and company want Duke and North Carolina, as well.  True or not, a lot of insiders believe Tech and UVA are thisclose to moving.

If two more ACC schools really do have their feet out the door already, then the ACC will most likely lose all of its top-shelf athletic brands.  The only reason for the delay at this point?  More than one person suggested to us that Georgia Tech and Virginia are waiting to see if Maryland has to pay a full exit fee as it departs from Swofford’s conference.

Forget the “all’s well” note from the ACC’s presidents earlier this month.  If those presidents were serious about saving their conference, they’d merrily sign a grant-of-rights agreement as the schools in the Big XII did.  Anything short of that — and it doesn’t sound like there’s a strong move in that direction — suggests that multiple ACC schools are indeed ready to bolt if they feel they’ll help their own bottom lines by doing so.

 

Big XII Conference

  Current or Future School   Total Revenue in ’11-’12 in Millions
  Texas   163.2
  Oklahoma   106.4
  Oklahoma State   84.1
  West Virginia   80.0
  Kansas   79.1
  TCU   68.0
  Baylor   67.8
  Kansas State   63.5
  Texas Tech   59.5
  Iowa State   55.1

 

The total revenue for those 10 schools was $826.7 million in 2011-12.  That’s a per-school average of $82.7 million in total athletic revenue.

No other conference sees a $108 million gap between its biggest revenue school and its smallest.  If you still wonder why the Big XII had to spackle and paste itself together over the past year, that disparity should help you figure it out.

Still, the Big XII schools signed a grant-of-rights deal that effectively binds the 10 remaining schools together for more than a decade.  If one school leaves, its media rights — meaning TV revenue — will belong to the Big XII, not the school or its new conference.  Contracts are made to be broken, but the Big XII’s deal is believed to be about as ironclad as a pact can get in this day and age.

For that reason, don’t expect any of the schools from Bob Bowlsby’s league to be looking for new homes.  Instead, the Big XII figures to grow if it moves at all.  But look at the per school average.  Content is important and a league championship game would help the bottom line, too, but in a 10-school league the revenue splits are so much bigger.

 

Pac-12 Conference

  Current or Future School   Total Revenue in ’11-’12 in Millions
  Stanford   89.1
  Southern California   84.1
  Washington   82.5
  Arizona   75.9
  Oregon   73.9
  UCLA   70.7
  California   68.1
  Arizona State   63.7
  Colorado   57.0
  Oregon State   53.8
  Washington State   47.9
  Utah   46.1

 

The total revenue for those 12 schools was $812.8 million in 2011-12.  That’s a per-school average of $67.7 million in total athletic revenue.

The new TV deals Larry Scott recently brokered will provide his league’s schools with added revenue, but the Pac-12′s league-owned networks have had a hard time gaining cable/satellite carriage.  To date, those channels haven’t become a cash cow just yet.  (It took the Big Ten time to get its network rolling, too.)

It would be unlikely that any Pac-12 schools would be desperate enough to fight the time zone battle and depart.  There are few big name programs on the West Coast and it’s likely they’ll all stick together.  But will they try to grow their league further?  And if so, who could bring in enough revenue to offset the increase in mouths to feed?

 

Big East Conference

  Current of Future School   Total Revenue in ’11-’12 in Millions
  Connecticut   63.8
  Memphis (future)   46.7
  South Florida   43.5
  SMU (future)   42.6
  Cincinnati   39.5
  Temple   38.9
  San Diego State (future)   38.5
  UCF (future)   37.5
  East Carolina (future)   34.0
  Houston (future)   32.3
  Boise State (future)   31.0
  Tulane (future)   27.9
  Navy (future)   No Data Available

 

The total revenue for those 13 schools was $476.2 million in 2011-12.  That’s a per-school average of $39.7 million in total athletic revenue (not counting the US Naval Academy’s revenue).

The Big East has been hemorrhaging schools since 2004.  With seven more hoops-first schools deciding to pack their bags, it’s only a matter of time before the best of the remaining sorta-large Big East football schools escape as well.

Since 1999, UConn has won three NCAA basketball tournaments and been to a BCS bowl game.  But the Big Ten and ACC have both balked at adding the Huskies in recent years.  (The Big Ten because UConn isn’t an AAU school and the ACC because Boston College has fought to be the only league member in New England.)

Cincinnati, Memphis and South Florida all have their pluses.  Of those three, the Bearcats — thanks to their location in recruit-rich Ohio and in a top 30 television market — are probably in the best position to move.

Meanwhile, Boise State makes the most sense from a football perspective as the Broncos have become a national brand.  But Idaho is hardly a prime location for conference annexation and the school will have to overcome a reputation — fair or not — of being a so-so academic school.

In reality, all of the Big East’s schools are up for grabs.

 

Conference USA

  Current or Future School   Total Revenue in ’11-’12 in Millions
  Old Dominion (future)   35.2
  Tulsa   31.1
  Rice   30.2
  Florida International (future)   27.4
  UAB   27.3
  Marshall   26.4
  UTEP   23.5
  Middle Tennessee State (future)   23.1
  Florida Atlantic (future)   21.7
  North Texas (future)   20.4
  Texas-San Antonio (future)   20.2
  Southern Miss   19.7
  Louisiana Tech (future)   17.0
  Charlotte (future)   14.3

 

The total revenue for those 10 schools was $337.5 million in 2011-12.  That’s a per-school average of $24.1 million in total athletic revenue.

Now we’ve really hit the zone of the have-nots.  C-USA has had to rebuild itself as the Big East has raided it to refill its ranks.  When you’re getting raided by the Big East, it’s not a good sign.

It’s hard to imagine any of the current C-USA programs finding their way into one of the remaining major conferences.  For that matter, could any of those schools afford to pay its athletes?  You can bet that when a new “super-division” inside the FBS forms, providing bigger scholarships will be a big piece of the puzzle.  These schools probably couldn’t afford to keep up.

 

Mid-American Conference

  Current or Future School   Total Revenue in ’11-’12 in Millions
  Ohio   28.6
  Miami, OH   27.8
  Massachusetts   27.3
  Central Michigan   25.7
  Arkon   25.5
  Western Michigan   24.7
  Kent State   23.8
  Eastern Michigan   23.0
  Toledo   22.3
  Ball State   20.8
  Northern Illinois   20.4
  Bowling Green   18.2
  Buffalo   15.9

 

The total revenue for those 10 schools was $304.0 million in 2011-12.  That’s a per-school average of $23.4 million in total athletic revenue.

Like the C-USA roster, there’s just not much chance that one of the biggest conferences will reach into the MAC to expand.  Massachusetts might someday jump to a reconfigured Big East or ACC, but the rest are likely to stick together.

 

Mountain West Conference

  Current or Future School   Total Revenue in ’11-’12 in Millions
  UNLV   54.0
  Hawaii   34.8
  New Mexico   30.9
  Wyoming   30.4
  Fresno State   29.3
  Colorado State   25.3
  San Jose State (future)   23.9
  Utah State (future)   21.5
  Nevada   19.5
  Air Force   No Data Available

 

The total revenue for those 10 schools was $269.6 million in 2011-12.  That’s a per-school average of $30.0 million in total athletic revenue (not counting the US Air Force Academy’s revenue).

Take a look at that revenue figure for UNLV.  There’s always been a stigma surrounding the Runnin’ Rebel program simply because of its location.  But now that Vegas has become a more family-friendly destination, sports leagues are starting to embrace it more often.  In particular, the Pac-12 has been warming to the city.  If Lake Mead doesn’t dry up and take Sin City with it, UNLV could be one of the few schools from this list to find itself a suitor.  The Las Vegas television market helps, too.

Hawaii’s budget is sound for this level of program, but travel issues will most likely keep any of the big leagues from eyeballing the Warriors.

 

Sun Belt Conference

  Current or Future School   Total Revenue in ’11-’12 in Millions
  Texas State (future)   26.2
  Western Kentucky   25.7
  Georgia State (future)   22.7
  South Alabama   17.7
  Troy   16.7
  Louisiana-Lafayette   15.3
  Arkansas State   13.2
  Louisiana-Monroe   9.4

 

The total revenue for those 10 schools was $146.9 million in 2011-12.  That’s a per-school average of $18.4 million in total athletic revenue.

At some point out in the distance a school like Georgia State or Texas State might find its way into a major conference due to its alumni base (both schools have around 30,000 under-grad and graduate students) and proximity to a major television market (Atlanta and San Antonio, respectively).  But for now, they’ll have to climb up the ladder just to get on a big conference’s radar.

 

Football Independents

  Current or Future School   Total Revenue in ’11-’12 in Millions
  Notre Dame   97.1
  BYU   53.0
  New Mexico State   24.0
  Army   No Data Available

 

The total revenue for those 4 schools was $174.1 million in 2011-12.  That’s a per-school average of $58.0 million in total athletic revenue (not counting the US Military Academy’s revenue).

Notre Dame and BYU are obviously the two schools most likely to be targeted by others.  The Fighting Irish have already agreed to move their non-football sports to the ACC (and play five ACC foes per season on the gridiron), but with their current home (the Big East) breaking apart early and their soon-to-be-home (the ACC) looking shaky, one must wonder what the future holds for the folks in South Bend.  You can be sure the Big Ten and Big XII are watching with great interest.

BYU has a good athletic program and the Cougars could provide the Salt Lake City television market, but there are issues with Brigham Young.  From a culture standpoint, the Mormon school might not be a perfect fit with the leagues on either side of it (the Pac-12 and the Big XII).  Additionally, a school that refuses to play games on Sunday will make scheduling a challenge for any new conference.

 

Western Athletic Conference

Well, the WAC is dead.  Or dying.  It announced after the last round of defections that it would transition out of the college football game.  Just wanted to point that out for any who might have missed the memo.

 

There you have it.  The revenue numbers for every current or soon-to-be FBS program in the country (minus the three service academies, who won’t be moving into major conferences anyway).  Assuming for a minute that the ACC, Big Ten, Big XII, Pac-12 and SEC all look in 2015 as they’re currently scheduled to look, there are only six schools outside of those leagues that brought in more than $42.9 million in athletic revenue in 2011-2012:  BYU, Connecticut, Memphis, Notre Dame, South Florida and UNLV.

Now toss the ACC teams back into the mix with all the other non-SEC, non-Big Ten, non-Big XII and non-Pac-12 schools and you basically have 76 schools looking for a way to increase their current level of revenue.  If that means moving, we suspect any of those 76 would be willing to jump if invited by a major conference.

But many of those 76 schools don’t have a prayer of landing in a top-flight conference.  In fact, we think only the following 25 schools have any hope of landing in some newfangled super-conference (and in some cases that hope is only very small):

 

13 ACC schools

Boston College, Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Miami (FL), North Carolina, North Carolina State, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Virginia and Virginia Tech

 

9 Big East schools

Boise State, Cincinnati, Connecticut, Houston, Memphis, San Diego State, SMU, South Florida, and UCF

 

2 Independent football schools

BYU and Notre Dame

 

1 Mountain West school

UNLV

 

In the next part of our series, we’ll take a look at the major conferences, what they’re after, and who can fill their needs.

 


30 comments
Clemmer
Clemmer

Great article. One note: though you have probaby published the revenue numbers available - remember that some of these may be apples to oranges.

LifeLongGarnetGold
LifeLongGarnetGold

John, As one who's been following realignment since the summer (Mr SEC, Dude of WV, Frank the Tank, etc), I find myself placing a little extra faith in what you state and the articles you've posted (i.e., Big Bang, etc).  Dude has mentioned some things are expected to break mid-Jan after the Natty.  Are you hearing anything that would indicate movement in Jan?   

USCTraveler
USCTraveler

Great stuff John.  Well done.

 

This will open a lot of people's eyes who still think the ACC is solid.

 

 

Mr_Travis_McGee
Mr_Travis_McGee

In terms of South Florida, Memphis and Cincinnati, you mentioned the hot bed of Ohio recruiting and the 30th largest television market.  

 

FYI - USF is in a far superior state for recruiting and is in the nation's 14th largest market.  

 

Food for thought.

joeymitchell01
joeymitchell01

@Bdgooch pretty low even compared to other conf. but I think this is changing in a hurry thanks to new AD @RossBjorkAD

Dnayew
Dnayew

Dangit, John - it is darn near IMPOSSIBLE to prep for the Bar Exam when you keep writing these incredibly interesting, brain-busting novels on Conference Expansion. This kind of stuff is like crack to college football fans.  Keep up the good work   :)

I4Bama
I4Bama

I would never have believed that Louisville's athletic revenues were higher than Florida State's.  Does basketball inflate this number significantly?

HoustonVol
HoustonVol

There are still a lot of moving parts to consider. First - ESPN is in talks with the ACC on their TV contracts, including ND, and starting a ACC cable channel. If you look at the TV markets that are in the ACC footprint, that could be huge. To keep the ACC together, would ESPN be willing to pony up more money to prevent to losing inventory to the BTN, Fox, NBC, and or CBS? If ESPN can put the ACC in the money range for the B12, it could cool people's heels. If the ACC could launch a cable channel, even for a fraction of the money that the BTN and SEC network gets, it would still be huge money. The average TV ratings for ACC football are better than B12 football. The ACC TV package is the most undervalued in the nation - which is one reason why it has caused so much stress in the conference.

 

The B12 grant of rights has a loop hole - 3rd tier rights. The conference does not own access to 3rd tier rights. In Texas' case, through the longhorn network - ESPN owns the first tier and technically the 3rd tier rights. Fox owns the 2nd tier. If it was for a season or two - Would ESPN be willing to try and push everything down onto the TLN that is not picked up by Fox? This also goes for every other B12 school. They are all starting some form of school network, even if it is just online. It would be messy, and anger a lot of fans, but doable if it means a school having an invite to a bigger payday long term.  

 

 Seeing these numbers, further supports one of my theories - Why Maryland and Why now? There has been rumors of the B10 and Maryland for years, that has been no secrete. If there was an ACC school willing to jump to the B10 with Maryland, I think it would have happened back when this move was announced. Instead the B10 picked up Rutgers. Saying that Rutgers brings the NYC market is like saying that ECU brings the NC market. If Rutgers had been that valuable of a product, the ACC would have picked them up over the past decade, instead of leaving it behind in each raid. The same reason ECU keeps getting left behind. Maryland is/was not one of the big fish in the ACC, as the numbers above showed. If the ACC fell apart, there would be a good chance that Maryland would have been left behind. The same reason Colorado jumped first before politics and back door deals would have blocked it out of the PAC, Maryland had to be aggressive. Either move first or risk being left behind.

 

As for mid-majors, the Big East is in the driver's seat for one reason and one reason only. They are the ones with the new TV contract. Expect to see the Big East systematically add TV markets and programs. ODU, UTSA, UNLV, GaSt, etc. If you are a member of the MWC, CUSA, Sun Belt and the Big East calls, you jump and don't look back. Anything the Big East gets with their new TV deal will be more than what those other conferences will be able to offer. Once this wheel stops spinning, the only question is will the Sun Belt survive? You have to feel for Benson, he seems to be cursed.

Holtbru
Holtbru

I sure would like to know what Mr. Slive is thinking !!!

DanielLaFrankie
DanielLaFrankie

I will look to MR. SEC for an answer, that no one else can give.  "Grant of rights".  Why is this concrete??  Can't people sue to get out of this, like they do to get out of exit penalties and fees??  People sue to get out of 10, 20, now even 50 million dollars.  Gets lawyered down.  Why can't they sue to get out of "Grant of rights"??   Thank you.

TruancyBot
TruancyBot

Wow, what an article!  Well done!

LifeLongGarnetGold
LifeLongGarnetGold

Excellent read!  Appreciate the info.  Looking forward to part 2. 

ChaseTheTrainWarren
ChaseTheTrainWarren

any word on when the ACC lawsuit will go to court? lot of information about there being a lawsuit but i haven't been able to find information on when the court date is. I know that it can always get settled before that date but i would really like to know when i should start cooking the popcorn and tune in to ESPN to watch all of the teams scatter.  

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

 @LifeLongGarnetGold 

 

No.  I've heard no talk of timelines.  Could be tomorrow, could be next month, but everyone I've spoken to now seems to think the next big wave is coming.  Everything was silent and I think most folks had their fingers crossed that things would slow... but then the Big Ten made its moves for Maryland and Rutgers and the mood around the SEC has changed.

 

Many thanks for reading,

John

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

 @Mr_Travis_McGee 

 

Agreed, but location helps the Bearcats in another way.  Cincinnati is really all alone in Ohio -- aside from Ohio State which is already in the Big Ten, of course -- in terms of landing a power conference bid at some point.  USF will be competing against Florida State, Miami and UCF.  At best their the third option from Florida.  Cincinnati is really the only option left in Ohio.  Just depends on a conference's geographic goals at that point.

 

Many thanks for reading the site,

John 

Quidam65
Quidam65

But USF is a weak football program in a weak conference and it's other sports don't do much either.  On that basis Florida Atlantic or Florida International would be better pickups.

 

Cincinnati has been competitive in that same weak conference and it's b-ball program brings additional value too.

Quidam65
Quidam65

Probably the same as in 2010 when all this started--if someone is interested we'll take a look to see if they can provide value to the SEC, then go from there.  If not, we'll stand pat and rake in the dough from providing the best product out there.

 

The Big Ten and (then) PAC-10 wanted to expand in 2010 so each could get to the 12 teams needed to host a conference championship game.  The SEC didn't need to expand as it already had 12 teams (none of which were looking to leave except in the deluded fantasies of fan site message boards) and the most profitable CCG.

 

Of course, it was a no-brainer when Texas A&M--a flagship university in the country's second most populous state, with alumni concentrated in two major media markets not already covered significantly by existing teams (DFW and Houston), and an AAU member to boot--expressed interest in joining; short of collective insanity by the SEC leadership there was no way they would not be accepted.

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

 @DanielLaFrankie 

 

Typically, schools leaving leagues face a buyout clause or exit fee.  In every case that we're aware of -- and we might have missed one -- those fees have been negotiated down.  Schools expected to pay $25-30 million typically pay between $10-20 million instead, for example.

 

A grant of rights agreement binds teams together in terms of most of their media rights.  Just for the sake of looking at ballpark numbers, let's say a school brings in $20 million per year in media value.  Now let's multiply that by an imaginary 10-year grant-of-rights agreement -- again just to get a round number.  (And we're actually lowballing here.)

 

Even if the other schools in the league negotiated down a penalty for a school and did not attempt to hold that school's media rights moving forward -- as the agreement states it could -- the starter's point for negotiations would be $200 million rather than $25-30 million.  Big difference.  And that's IF the schools agreed to let the other school go.  If they didn't, the exiting school could take it to court in hopes of the deal being struck down.  But it's one thing for a school to bluff a court battle over $25-30 million... it's another to roll the dice over a $200 million (again, just a ballpark figure) deal.  How many schools would be willing to risk wasting years in court only to possibly lose most of their media rights for a decade in the end?

 

That's why grant-of-rights agreements are considered to be more effective than simple exit fees.

 

Thanks for reading the site,

John

Sooner_Stampede
Sooner_Stampede

 The B1G and PAC have had GOR's for a whole lot longer than the Big 12 has had one. The big reason why the 50 mill exit fee cannot be upheld is because it is punitive and therefore not legal. An exit fee is not supposed to be a punishment that the conference inflicts upon a school for leaving it is supposed to be a payment in damages and for the exit fee to be set at 50 million, 3 times the annual conference revenue, then that goes far beyond just damages. The GOR is seen as an equitable unanimous agreement between all schools and the conference that in exchange for membership in the conference and all its benefits, money, they will sign over their media rights to the conference.

Aub62
Aub62

@DanielLaFrankie it's the money that the grant of rights is worth. Certainly $ can be negotiated to get out, but you have to pay (and in future worth, too). Some people call this a golden shackle. The ACC has a $50M buyout, the Big12 a grant of rights for a long time. The Big10 has a grant of rights, but it rolls every year. Not sure about Pac12, but you see that as you get to the top of the $, the schools need less to keep them together.

torris187
torris187

 @Quidam65 FIU & FAU have about half the athletic budget USF Does.  Also, USF has upgraded athletic facilities and it plays in Raymond James Stadium.  You can't compare USF to FIU and FAU with any type of seriousness.  You could however compare USF to UCF...  USF has a slighter advantage.

 

I think there are only 2 ways USF/UCF gets into a bigger conference. 

1.  If FSU leaves for the Big 12, the ACC replaces FSU with USF. 

2.  If the Big 12 decides to expand its footprint to Florida but is unable to grab FSU. 

DanielLaFrankie
DanielLaFrankie

 @John at MrSEC  @DanielLaFrankie Thanks for your answer, and everyone elses answers.  I believe my main thought of this, is if everyone goes to the 16, I still believe the Texas, TT, Ok, Ok. St. to the PAC 12 could come around again.  Maybe the Big 12 steals from the ACC to get to 16.  If not,  then those 4 to the PAC 12 could start up again.  Thats what I was wondering about the "GOR", in regards to that situation.  Thanks for all the answers.

John Bragg
John Bragg

 @John at MrSEC  That's true when schools leave the Big XII, whose bylaws were apparently written in crayon while drunk, and had contradictory clauses.  Everyone leaving the Big East has paid list price(TCU) or a premium to leave early.  

 

On the other hand, the Big East would have had a very easy time showing damages--look around.

 

The only school that a Grant of Rights wouldn't bind is one of the only two schools it's supposed to bind--Texas.  Texas in the Big Ten would probably pay its way even without TV rights to home games.  Texas @ Michigan adds to the Tier 1 package, Texas @ Minnesota is a valuable BTN game, etc.   And 2-3 Longhorn football road games, together with UT basketball road games and the rest of the BTN content could be enough to get the BTN on basic cable in Texas.  

 

I don't see a consolidation of the top tier--that makes the four surviving superconferences equals.  I see the Big Ten and SEC increasing the gap at the expense of the Big XII and ACC.

AGator
AGator

 @John at MrSEC  @DanielLaFrankie 

Couldn't a school still challenge the $200 million exit fee in court without the risk of paying a huge fee? If they were successful and got the fee reduced to the going rate of about $10 million they'd leave the conference. If they could only get it down to $100 million they'd stay in the Big 12 and not have to pay the exit fee.

 

Would a major conference actually take a school to court that didn't want to be in their conference? It would be horrible publicity for the conference.

AGator
AGator

 @Sooner_Stampede 

I've also read that 50 million will not hold up in court for the reasons you describe. The courts will say that schools must have the ability to change conferences if they desire and the exit fee can't be prohibitively expensive.

 

Wouldn't the Big 12 GOR have the same problem in court? It's so expensive that schools can't afford to leave the conference. Wouldn't the courts give the GOR a dollar value and then say that dollar value is excessive?

Quidam65
Quidam65

 @torris187  @Quidam65 The original argument was that someone should grab USF simply because it was in a major market, notwithstanding that its program is weak.

 

My argument was that if simply having a school in a large market is the only goal, the Miami-Fort Lauderdale market is much bigger (top 10 I believe) so on that basis FIU and FAU are just as credible (and just as weak).

LifeLongGarnetGold
LifeLongGarnetGold

Ditto (it's rare that I ever ditto a gator).  Same things I've heard. 

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