As we approach the era where USC begins at 9 a.m. Pacific time in the freezing November temperatures of East Lansing is a very real and likely biennial situation. , let’s look at options for future college athletics.
This move from USC and UCLA really cannot be underestimated in terms of its impact. The dust has largely settled from Texas and Oklahoma’s move to the SEC, as Big XII could fill their positions with solid and forthcoming fallback options, but this? This is, as my colleague Eric Blum (and before him, REM) say, the apocalypse – or, regional convention, at least – as we know it.
The following scenarios revolve around the concept of football being a decisive factor in decisions to reorganize the conference, which has been mostly so far. I understand Duke and Kansas have a lot to offer in March, but come fall, they won’t cut it.
Start your Pac-12 eulogy
In fact, the Pac-12 does not do this. With regional allegiances very casually set aside, Washington, Oregon and even Utah may now be willing to explore other options if not eagerly shopping their shows around. The SEC, no longer the only conference with 16 teams, is likely to head west for expansion (Manifest Destiny, anyone?) as well as east to Clemson, Florida State and Miami. While only one out of three schools has achieved some degree of success in recent seasons, the franchises and fan bases will be the big thieves now that it’s free for all.
Supposedly, if Washington and Oregon went against the Big Ten and the SEC took over Utah, then the Pac-12 would be left with a lot of unknowns. It turned into a Group of 5 conference at the time, and with their media rights agreement expiring in 2024, they’ve pretty much accomplished.
So there are a few options here. The remaining Pac-12 could effectively merge with Big XII, which is still hazy in the same region (at least mainly west of Mississippi), to create a so-called third superconvergence. But it won’t be able to compete with the powerhouses in the Big Ten and the new SEC, and will remain the little brother with no signature brand.
Another option pops up if ACC drops.
If the SEC can pull two of the three ACC fields I mentioned, the ACC is done too. Several schools – Duke, Louisville, North Carolina – will run to the Big Ten who will likely include them in their basketball programs and academic standards. Boston College will be accepted into the competition, as will Pittsburgh and Syracuse. Basically, it will be divided into a parallel line between the coast and the coast. The Big Ten and the Southeast Conference will be misguided.
At that point, the rest of the Big XII and Pac-12 schools will have to participate in one of the two major conventions for fear that they risk becoming a minor league in football, which will make the schools College has to pay a huge price. Even Notre Dame eventually had to join a conference.
This is the conclusion that many see as inevitable – two monopolistic college sports super games with no regard for what that means for them. non-football program. One FOX deal, one ESPN deal, and that’s it.
But how will scheduling work?
Well, the way I see it, with conferences that would theoretically include 20 to 30 teams, you would have to create divisions. Perhaps the division of the area. Big Ten West will debut in the Rockies. SEC East will involve pretty much the entire existing SEC. Maybe the college football playoffs look like the east and west winners of both the super league head-to-head and the winners among the players for the national championship.
This is, of course, extremely ironic. While money and visibility are at the heart of a lot of these decisions, creating these divisions in hyperreferences will really only recreate the conferences the way they were: you mostly travel to other schools in your area, making it easy for student-athletes, with some of the major games nationwide attracting a more geographically diverse audience.
This will be one of the most hilariously complete moments of all time, naturally.
What about a total restructuring?
Another option – a less likely choice, as there is no greater power in college sports than the NCAA, who do not define the conference structure – would be a federation of 30 schools, where the bottom four or six face regulation each year, and the top four or six of a sub-league will be promoted each year.
However, this will require many people agreeing on many things, which the college sports world is notoriously unable to do (see: open negotiations). And none of these conclusions will be in full force for another few years, so for now, we have to embrace the chaos. Countdown to opening day 2022: 57 days.