Many Bothans Died to Bring Us This Information: Big Ten/Pac-12/ACC Alliance, Rose Bowl Requests and Conference Realignment Impact on the Playoffs

Quite a bit of interesting off-the-field college football news dropped at the end of last week. First, Andy Wittry obtained a Rose Bowl memo to the Big Ten and Pac-12 from earlier this year that outlined what the Granddaddy of Them All is seeking from a new playoff system. That was then followed up by a story with potentially even greater impact, where The Athletic reported that the Big Ten, Pac-12 and ACC were exploring an alliance that could range from governance issues to scheduling.

As I stated in a prior post, the power of the SEC expansion move to add Texas and Oklahoma is that it really leaves the other power conferences with no realistic options for a response on their own (to the extent a response is even necessary). Virtually every semi-realistic superconference idea since 2010 has involved Texas and/or Oklahoma moving (including the very real and legitimate Pac-16 proposal)… and the SEC was able to grab them both without having to add anyone else. As much as the SEC move is about making as much money as possible, the real beauty of the move is that it still makes sense without the money. Texas actually gets to restart two historical rivalries with Texas A&M and Arkansas, the Red River Rivalry between UT and OU continues and the moves were geographically contiguous. This isn’t like some of the suggestions that I’ve seen trying to add USC and a handful of other Pac-12 schools to the Big Ten where all of the additions are just left on a Western island. That type of move might make money in the short-term, but that isn’t the hallmark of a long-term relationship. In contrast, the SEC expansion simply makes sense. This is not a shotgun marriage. I am an Illini and Big Ten guy to the core and can fully acknowledge that the SEC simply made the most baller conference realignment move ever.

Therefore, it makes sense to me that the other power conferences (to the extent that they’re not trying to raid each other) are trying to see how they can work together. Hence, the potential for an alliance between the Big Ten, Pac-12 and ACC. We have all of the attributes of the Rebel Alliance fighting against the Galactic Empire that just built the Super Death Star Conference that I speculated about for the Big Ten over a decade ago. (Yes, I will shoehorn Star Wars references into my posts whenever possible.)

Granted, this feels like a response to fans calling their leagues to “Do something!!!” as opposed to anything comprehensive. From the Big Ten alum perspective, that’s a bit of my fear since I firmly believe that the Big Ten doesn’t need to “do something” simply as a response to the SEC move. As a reminder, the Big Ten still distributes more money per member than any other conference (including the SEC) and that figure will likely increase even more dramatically when the conference signs new first tier television contracts to start in 2023. In fact, the Big Ten may very well be making more money per member than the SEC even after they add Texas and Oklahoma. The way that the Big Ten receives profits and revenue directly as a part-owner of the Big Ten Network is simply much more significant than what the SEC receives from the SEC Network (which is wholly-owned by Disney/ESPN) and that has largely accounted for the revenue difference between the two leagues for the past decade despite the SEC performing better on-the-field.

In contrast, the Pac-12 has a conference network that has largely been failure in terms of generating revenue, while the ACC is locked into an underwhelming contract with ESPN until 2036. It’s pretty stunning that the Big Ten could end up 3 or 4 new TV deals with raises each time before the ACC gets a chance at a new one. This wouldn’t be an alliance of equals – the Big Ten would be carrying the water here financially and they also have the most depth of attractive brands to offer for non-conference scheduling arrangements.

So, what’s in it for the Big Ten? There are two primary things that the league could be looking for here (outside of governance issues that are interesting to me as a lawyer but would bore the tears out of all of you):

  1. Long-Term Access to Growing Demographics – The Big Ten is more than fine in terms of financially competing with the SEC for the next decade or so. It’s not really about the near-term money. However, the Big Ten’s main long-term risk (identified by Jim Delany in the conference realignment round starting in 2010) is that the population trends in its footprint are quite poor compared to the other power conferences. It’s evident in the 2020 Census data that was released in the past week where the Midwestern states are generally in slow-to-no-growth mode (with my home state of Illinois being one of only 3 states that straight up lost population since 2010). Meanwhile, the Pac-12 and ACC feature pretty much every high growth state outside of Texas: Arizona, Colorado, Washington, Florida, North Carolina, Georgia, etc. An alliance with those leagues could allow for the Big Ten to get more consistent exposure in those regions without having to go through (or having the option of) expansion.
  2. Playoff Issues and Rose Bowl Protection – Outside of what other conference realignment moves might happen, the biggest question on everyone’s mind is how the SEC adding Texas and Oklahoma impacts the proposed 12-team playoff. Some people believe that it might be altered in format or derailed altogether. Others, such as Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith, are concerned about a new playoff system being handed to ESPN instead of going to the open market.

For what it’s worth, I firmly believe that once all of the emotions die down with the SEC expansion, the 12-team playoff will get passed in largely the format that has been presented. For all of the concern about the SEC locking down multiple at-large bids per year in that system, what will be even worse for the other power conferences is continuing on with the current 4-team playoff and seeing more years like 2018 where the SEC is getting multiple bids where it shuts out those competing leagues entirely. The Pac-12 has been the most open power conference in support of an expanded playoff for many years – they’re not backtracking here.

At the same time, just as a lot of layman fans mistakenly believe that the SEC makes more money than the Big Ten (which isn’t true), the Big Ten would have actually had more at-large bids if the 12-team playoff had been in place during the CFP era than the SEC. I have seen a lot of fans suggest that leagues outside of the SEC would want to cap the number of teams from each conference that could make the playoffs, but they’re forgetting is that the Big Ten absolutely doesn’t want that at all, either. This is one issue where the Big Ten and SEC are aligned.

Here’s my overarching belief about the impact of conference realignment (or lack thereof) on playoff issues: Just because the 12-team playoff would be good (or even great) for the SEC doesn’t mean that it isn’t good (or even great) for everyone else. The Big Ten wants just as many multiple bids as the SEC and they’ll get that here. The Pac-12 wants more consistency of getting their conference champ into the playoff and they’ll get it here, too (particularly with the downgrading in status of the Big 12). The SEC and Notre Dame were very clear that they aren’t agreeing to an 8-team playoff system unless it’s only taking the top 8 teams without any protection for conference champs, which would be pointless for the other leagues to agree to in a playoff expansion. It’s hard to know where the ACC stands, but if Notre Dame is clear that they’re voting one way, they’re probably not to push a system that their Irish partners would outright reject. The playoff proposal is more than the Group of Five conferences could have ever realistically hope for in terms of access – there’s NFW that they’d turn it down. Finally, the Big 12 (who had a lead role in creating the 12-team playoff proposal with the SEC) needs this to pass more than ever. Their league is effectively going to be completely shut out of the national championship race if the 4-team playoff system continues after Texas and Oklahoma leave.

Ultimately, fans generally love this 12-team playoff proposal. (It’s interesting that the only pushback that I ever see about the proposal are places like the comment section of my blog and hardcore college football-centric forums. We get into the weeds of the process and are hyper-focused on who gets an advantage. However, there hasn’t been a single “normal” sports fan out there that I’ve spoken to that doesn’t *LOVE* this proposal… and it’s the “normal” sports fans that are required for the massive audiences that justify ESPN paying for this playoff in the first place.) Believe me when I tell that even what the general public considers to be “wealthy” schools got financially hammered with the pandemic in the past year (and it isn’t over yet). So, as much as a school like Ohio State might be fine with waiting to take a new playoff system to the open market for TV negotiations, the reality is that the vast majority of other college can’t wait for 5 more years for a new playoff system when they legitimately need the money NOW (as in the Death Star reactor core is about to explode NOW). Remember that over 90% of FBS teams won’t be participating in a 12-team playoff every year… and those schools would be getting substantially more money for doing nothing. This is the easiest money grab in history and the fans will be happier than ever.

The proverbial genie was out of the bottle as soon as the 12-team playoff proposal was announced publicly. Can you imagine if we had to wait 5 years for a 12-team playoff and all we’d hear every week is, “If the 12-team playoff were in place today, then these teams would be in, but we still have to wait a bunch of more years.” No conference can look their fans in their eyes and in good faith reject the playoff at this point. There might be touchpoints around the edges to figure out, but when there’s a rare instance where fan desire and financial interests actually align, it’s going to happen.

Of course, one of those touchpoints for the Big Ten and Pac-12 is the Rose Bowl. In the memo referenced earlier in this post, the Rose Bowl Management Committee stated that they had the following objectives in a new playoff system (note that the memo was written in April prior to the 12-team playoff consensus, so they were covering either an 8-team or 12-team playoff):

1) Development of an independent media contract with the Rose Bowl Game, its partner conferences, and a telecast entity for an annual quarterfinal game;

2) Preferred access for the Rose Bowl Game on an equal rotating basis to a Pac 12 or Big Ten team available for that round of competition;

3) A Most Favored Nation position among bowls and other venues for hosting CFP Semi-Final and Championship games; and

4) The proposed quarter final Rose Bowl game shall occur on January 1 annually in its historic telecast window (approximately 5 p.m. Eastern time) following the Rose Parade.

Request #1 is actually consistent with today’s CFP system. The current ESPN CFP deal is a series of contracts: a CFP contract that covers the National Championship Game and the New Year’s Six Access Bowls (including any semifinal games played in those particular bowls) and then separate contracts with each of the Rose, Sugar and Orange Bowls (the “Contract Bowls”). When a CFP semifinal is played in a Contract Bowl, that comes under that particular Contract Bowl deal with ESPN as opposed to the overarching CFP contract. Whether this could realistically continue in the new system is an open question, but the Rose Bowl is essentially asking for the status quo on that front here.

Request #2 is quite logical if the Rose Bowl is a permanent quarterfinal game, particularly where the top 4 conference champs would be provided byes in the proposed system. With the effective demotion of the Big 12, it’s going to be more likely than ever that both the Big Ten and Pac-12 will among the top 4 conference champs on an annual basis, so the Rose would have access to them. Frankly, I would expect the same with respect to the SEC with the Sugar Bowl and ACC with the Orange Bowl when those bowls are quarterfinals. Otherwise, there’s little point in using the bowls as quarterfinal sites in the first place. What’s most interesting here is that the Rose Bowl is conceding that the new playoff system is going to prevent a Big Ten vs. Pac-12 matchup – they’re acknowledging that they’ll get either conference in a given year, but not both. That makes it a whole lot more realistic for the Rose Bowl to get integrated into the playoff system.

Request #3 seems to be a bit strange and conflicts with the notion of a permanent Rose Bowl quarterfinal game on New Year’s Day. This might be taken to mean that Pasadena would have a Most Favored Nation position to host these games in addition to the Rose Bowl Game itself. That’s a little tougher to see.

Request #4 is insanely important to the Rose Bowl. Remember that the Rose Parade and Game are intertwined specifically on New Year’s Day. I know that it can be perceived as hokey and is often frustrating to fans outside of the Big Ten and Pac-12 that this is such a key point, but if you’ve ever been to the Rose Parade followed up by the Rose Bowl Game, it all makes sense.

In my mind, Requests #2 and #4 could be fairly easily granted. The trade-off to me is that the Rose Bowl can be a permanent quarterfinal, but that means that it can’t host semifinal games (eliminating Request #3). I’ve got to believe that the Rose Bowl would fine with that scenario. Request #1 is really up in the air – I doubt that we’d have a situation where the Rose Bowl is the only bowl that gets this treatment if it’s allowed. Ultimately, I believe that Requests #1 and #2 would also need to apply to whichever bowls are connected to the SEC and ACC (currently the Sugar and Orange, respectively).

Linking this back to the Big Ten/Pac-12/ACC alliance, everyone should remember that the ACC just hired a new commissioner that started only 6 months ago in February 2021: Jim Phillips. What’s key here is his background – his job right before being ACC commissioner was the athletic director at Northwestern and served multiple stints on the Rose Bowl Management Committee. Phillips also attended undergrad at my alma mater of Illinois. The point here is that the ACC commissioner intimately understands the Big Ten and its relationship with the Rose Bowl. It wouldn’t surprise me if Phillips knows the Big Ten presidents and athletic directors better than Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren simply because of the length of time Phillips spent at Northwestern.

So, to the extent that the Big Ten and Pac-12 need help securing their preferences for the Rose Bowl in the new playoff system, Jim Phillips could very well be a friend on that front. The ACC supporting the Big Ten/Pac-12/Rose Bowl relationship would change the dynamics greatly – it would turn it into 3 power conferences supporting it as opposed to it just being the self-interested Big Ten and Pac-12 fighting for it. Of course, if Phillips is smart (and I definitely think that he is), he’ll get a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” quid pro quo with getting support from the Big Ten and Pac-12 for a similar setup for the ACC with its contract bowl, whether it continues to be the Orange Bowl or maybe a rotation between the SEC and ACC in the Sugar Bowl. Just change all Rose Bowl requests to refer to the Sugar Bowl, SEC and ACC with a guaranteed 9 pm ET quarterfinal on New Year’s Day and that might ultimately be the compromise between the “Power 4” in the new playoff system.

Speaking of the Power 4, it’s instructive that the Big 12 was left out of the Big Ten/Pac-12/ACC alliance discussions entirely. The Big 12 is looking at a position similar to the old Big East football conference following the ACC’s raid of Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College as a league that’s above the non-power conferences, but clearly behind the other power conferences. The silver lining is that the alliance discussions also indicate that the Big 12 isn’t likely to be poached further, which means that it can move forward with unity as a league (even if its individual members may long for an invite elsewhere). The backfilling/expansion options for the Big 12 will be the topic of another post soon. Until then, May the Force Be With You.

(Image from Pixels.com)

(Follow Frank the Tank’s Slant on Twitter @frankthetank111 and Facebook)

245 thoughts on “Many Bothans Died to Bring Us This Information: Big Ten/Pac-12/ACC Alliance, Rose Bowl Requests and Conference Realignment Impact on the Playoffs

      1. loki_the_bubba

        The Longhorns have filled that spot with UTEP and UTSA for the next decade. After this year and 2023 we don’t have anything scheduled. And they don’t have much room. But we filled that spot with USC, BYU (H/H), LSU, Boise (H/H), and Northwestern (H/H).

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  1. buckeyeinexile

    Delaying CFB playoff expansion is the classic marshmallow test, but the subjects are able to confer and strategize. Are the PAC12 and ACC that desperate for cash right now, that the B1G can’t persuade them to defer gratification until the ESPN loses its grip on the playoffs? I would think that goal (delaying playoff expansion) would be one of the primary motivations of this alliance, as it is a major (the only?) check on the SEC’s power play.

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    1. Marc

      ESPN has the playoff contract through 2025. After that, even if it stays at 4 teams, it will go out for bid. The SEC wants that too. If they can make more money by forcing ESPN to bid against rival networks, naturally they’d be all for it.

      The only question is if the contract will get torn up before 2025. As Frank made clear in his post, almost everybody wants the money that’s getting left on the table by leaving the contract intact. The catch is, tearing up the contract requires unanimous agreement, which means any party can scuttle it by saying no. This gives naysayers a lot of leverage.

      But as 2025 approaches, individual parties lose their leverage, because one on their own cannot torpedo the whole thing by just saying no. Maybe the B10/Pac-12/ACC alliance could utter a collective no, but as Frank correctly noted, all of them want the playoff to expand; the only argument is the details.

      Even if they agree to expand the playoff before the contract expires, it will still go out for bid anyway for the next contract.

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      1. That’s correct. The other thing is that Ohio State’s comments are simultaneously going to be heard the loudest within the Big Ten (as it should be as the dominant athletic program and brand), but are also probably the least reflective of the overall conference.

        Note that Ohio State is perfectly fine with and has thrived under the 4-team playoff system: it makes sense that their motivation for changes to the playoff system are going to be relatively tepid or lack any sense of urgency.

        However, Michigan, Penn State and Wisconsin (much less the plebeians like my alma mater of Illinois) aren’t looking at whether the “Big Ten” makes the playoff (as during the CFP era, the “Big Ten” making the playoff has meant “Ohio State” with the one exception where Michigan State broke through). They’re all looking at how *their schools* can make the playoff, not merely a representative from the Big Ten. Those schools would have all had multiple playoff appearances if this 12-team playoff system had been in place during the CFP era. I honestly don’t believe that Michigan cares if the SEC takes 5 at-large bids per year as long as the Wolverines get the 6th one.

        (It’s similar to the discussion I have with a lot of Ohio State and Alabama fans that worry about the loss of week-to-week national impact regular season games with CFP expansion. My retort: it’s easy to worry about that loss of national games when *your* team is always playing in them. The other 90-plus percent of college football is effectively irrelevant on the national stage by the end of September every year, which isn’t sustainable for the system overall if it continues.)

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        1. buckeyeinexile

          Frank,
          Absolutely, the expansion of the playoffs is essential for the health of college football, and your point is well taken. But I’d add (and there is no way for me to make the following point without appearing greedy, whiny, or tone deaf but here it is): Ohio State benefits greatly, or even more so than most, from an expanded playoff system, as they were on the cusp, but excluded, several times. So Ohio State could potentially even have more to lose than most if playoff expansion were delayed.

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          1. Brian

            “Absolutely, the expansion of the playoffs is essential for the health of college football,”

            I’ll disagree. It is essential to the wealth of CFB, but the game was healthier before the CFP and even more so before the BCS. These playoffs are what is hurting the game, not the cure.

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          2. buckeyeinexile

            @Brian, I’m old school, and I agree with you. We’ve lost lot a lot of traditional rivalries etc. My implication was “as things stand now,” it would be healthier to expand the playoffs. I know I get tired of seeing the same core teams in it year in and year out.

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          3. Brian

            buckeyeinexile,

            “My implication was “as things stand now,” it would be healthier to expand the playoffs. I know I get tired of seeing the same core teams in it year in and year out.”

            I get that, but I also think it’s the wrong motivation. It’s a fluke to have 4 dynasties of this level running in 4 power conferences at once. Success ebbs and flows typically, and shifts from conference to conference. Having 3 schools winning over 90% of the conference games (plus OU at 86%) in 3 separate power conferences is not normal. Nobody was over 90% during the ten year war. No P5 team was above 80% over the BCS era. People are over-reacting to a brief blip in history. One or more of these schools is going to start sliding pretty soon, hopefully not OSU.

            I agree fresh blood would help. But how much would it help if those same 4 keep getting all the byes and win all the quarterfinals so they’re the final 4?

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          4. bullet

            I don’t think its so much of a fluke as a result of the current system.

            CFP appearance means better recruiting. Better recruiting means more CFP appearances.

            Alabama and Ohio St. are doing very, very well nationally recruiting.

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          5. Brian

            It’s a fluke that there is 1 hyper-dominant team in each of 4 power conferences at the same time and that those 4 have persisted this long. You’d expect one or more of UT, PSU/UM, LSU/UF/UGA, FSU/Miami, or USC/UO/UW to rise up and at least be a peer if not knock the kings off the hill. But instead you just see 1-2 year blips.

            AL, OSU and OU have been killing it in recruiting for a long time and never maintained this sort of dominance. Other SEC and B10 schools have recruited well. I agree that some of it is a feedback loop (again – the playoff is bad for CFB), but I don’t think that’s all of it.

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          6. manifestodeluxe

            @Brian: “AL, OSU and OU have been killing it in recruiting for a long time and never maintained this sort of dominance.”

            I think with all three schools you’ve seen a combination of factors, starting with brand strength and resources for sure but also factoring in longevity of successful coaching hires, either due to a single coach or being fortunate enough to make the right new hires.

            Alabama post-Stallings (1996) to pre-Saban (2007) wasn’t very good, however under Saban they’ve had tremendous success. Not only have they recruited extremely well, and Saban is a terrific coach, but Saban has also been masterful at generally making great hires for his coaching staff.

            With OU, Bob Stoops came out of the gate hot (year 2 NC in 2000) and was consistently very good for 18 seasons. His replacement, Lincoln Riley, has lost eight games total in four seasons and has already had back-to-back Heisman winners and 1st over NFL draft picls. He was hired despite having no previous HC experience and it seems to have paid off.

            OSU has had three head coaches in 22 years, two of which will be in the college HOF. We’ll see about Day long term, but so far he’s done a wonderful job. We’re both OSU fans so I won’t rehash the stats, but the results have been top notch for over two decades. Day, like Riley, was hired at one of the biggest brands in the country despite having no previous HC experience and the short term returns have been tremendous.

            Success breeds success in all fields, but I’m unsure there’s a more stark example of that axiom than with college football and recruiting of impressionable teenage athletes. That *might* change some with NIL, as programs that haven’t had success but are still in large markets might benefit, but I doubt it. (You’re already seeing it with Saban boasting about Bryce Young netting $800k in endorsements, and Quinn Ewers skipping his senior season so he could sign NIL deals before his first practice at OSU.)

            The only thing that is likely to change the landscape is what happens when Saban retires, or if Day or Riley move on to the NFL. Head coach hires make or break college programs in the short term, especially under the BCS and 4 team CFP systems. Maybe that’s better under a 12 team format but, taken by itself, it’s hard to see where giving OSU/Bama/OU an even easier path to a playoff birth every year is going to revolutionize anything.

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          7. Brian

            Even elite coaches tend to go through relatively down periods. But we just aren’t seeing that right now, which is why I say it’s a fluke. Bear Bryant was down from 1967-1970. Woody was more good than great until 1968. JoePa had lots of off years since 1986. Bowden was down for most of his last decade. I haven’t run the numbers to prove it, but I think this CFP stretch is unprecedented in modern CFB.

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        2. Jersey Bernie

          With four guaranteed spots, what is the real likelihood that the B1G could get three or more of the remaining eight slots (in addition to the guaranteed champion)? Pretty low.

          What about the “new” SEC with the benefit of ESPN doing everything that it can to support SEC teams? My guess is their new expectation is to have at least four of twelve and hope for five regularly.

          Shame on the B1G if they do not agree to some limit. Limiting the SEC makes it more likely to get an extra B1G team in and, if the B1G agrees to a limit, no league other the SEC is going to have a problem with that. If the SEC gets 5 teams, how likely is the B1G to have more than 3 the same year? Even with 3 B1G, that would be eight of the 12 and there are two more guaranteed slots, leaving only two open slots. Even 3 teams would be tough if the SEC could get 5.

          With five guaranteed championship spots, if the SEC got 4 teams in, that leaves four slots for all of the rest of the non-champions. Is there really a chance for any league to get more than two of those?

          I prefer a 3 team limit to 4. In my mind that would guarantee 3 SEC teams and likely 3 B1G teams regularly. I see it in the self interest of the B1G to limit the SEC in order to open more spots for B1G teams, particularly when every other league would agree to the limit.

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          1. Brian

            Exactly. There really is no downside for the B10 to a cap of 3. Only once in 7 years would the B10 have gotten 4 teams, while the SEC + OU would have gotten 4 or 5 teams in 4 of 7 years. Fewer SEC teams means better odds for the rest of the P5 to make it.

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        3. Brian

          Frank,

          “The other thing is that Ohio State’s comments are simultaneously going to be heard the loudest within the Big Ten (as it should be as the dominant athletic program and brand), but are also probably the least reflective of the overall conference.”

          On some things, I agree that OSU’s opinion might be an outlier. But Smith has made 2 main points that I think most of the B10 agrees with to at least some extent:

          1. Hosting playoff games on campus might be problematic for some schools and/or a safety concern for players and fans
          2. People should think carefully before giving the whole expanded CFP to ESPN

          Smith didn’t say not to do it. He said take the time to think, and at least consider going to the open market. And he’s not the only one saying it. This was also when people were talking about getting the plan approved this summer or early fall. Big decisions like this don’t happen that quickly when so many disparate stakeholders need to chime in, including the players.

          From that article you linked about this:

          Other leaders around the country have expressed a skepticism toward the financial value of allowing ESPN to continue to be the sole owner of the most powerful rights in college football.

          The idea of bringing those rights to open market has only increased around the sport now that ESPN rode shotgun on the bold and expensive move of Texas and Oklahoma leaving the Big 12 for the SEC.

          The notion among many leaders around the sport: Why allow ESPN access to the most valuable set of rights around the sport without other bidders to drive up the price?

          It’s not uncommon among major professional sports, like the NFL and NBA, to have multiple networks broadcast their postseason. Also, that would take perhaps an additional half billion of ESPN’s dollars a year off the table that could theoretically be directed toward upcoming rights to leagues like the upcoming deals of the Big Ten (2023) and Pac-12 (2024).

          “It’s behooves everyone not named the SEC and ACC [for the CFP rights to go to market],” said a Power 5 athletic director outside the Big Ten. “It’s in all of our best interest [of other leagues] to let the contract through and go to open market. Why would a streaming service want to bid on a league like the Big Ten or Pac-12 to carry the regular season if they are going to just hand it over to ESPN for the playoffs?”

          This isn’t just OSU saying this, you just have Smith’s name attached to it.

          “I honestly don’t believe that Michigan cares if the SEC takes 5 at-large bids per year as long as the Wolverines get the 6th one.”

          Then you’re crazy. Illinois might feel that way, but not UM. Besides, the SEC taking 5 spots reduces the odds of UM/PSU/WI getting in. Capping it at 3 actually improves their chances of making it. And if they can’t be in the top 3 of the B10, they have no valid complaints about not making the CFP.

          “The other 90-plus percent of college football is effectively irrelevant on the national stage by the end of September every year, which isn’t sustainable for the system overall if it continues.”

          The other 90%+ is effectively irrelevant from day 1 now and in the future. The other 8 teams making the CFP will be viewed as who does AL have to beat to win the title this year, not as legitimate challengers to them. You when that wasn’t true? In the old bowl system where the focus was much more regional.

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          1. bullet

            The SEC will be stronger, but the extra losses will reduce the number of teams they are likely to get in. They may win ties, but there aren’t many 9-3 SEC teams getting in over 11-1 Big 10, ACC or Pac 12 teams.

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          2. Brian

            We’ll see. I think it probably will balance out – it’s 2 more schools with a good shot at being elite so it doesn’t matter if a few other schools are down that year, but also more losses for someone good. But the committee will fawn over the SEC even more than they do now, when SEC 9-3 regularly trumps other P5’s 10-2 and all other 9-3 teams. SEC losses will be discounted even more. I don’t expect 9-3 over 11-1, but 9-3 over 10-2 will be a given. In 2016, 8-4 Auburn topped 10-2 WV in the rankings. That will become more common.

            With no capo, the SEC would get 4 or 5 teams every year. ESPN’s subconscious influence over the committee would make sure it happens.

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      2. buckeyeinexile

        Thanks Marc. I should have been more precise. Frank argued, prior to moving to his excellent analysis of the Rose Bowl, that expanding the playoff to 12 is beneficial to everyone. Every conference wants it, fans want it, easy money. Agreed. My point is that an ACC/B1G/PAC12 alliance that comes out of the gate presenting a unified front to slow down CFP expansion seems wise, tactically, in the long run. First, it would be a powerful show of force and unity, demonstrating they won’t be bowled over (no pun intended), that could be beneficial in future negotiations. Second, it gives them time to work out the logistics of their arrangement, which would inform what they would seek in the details of the playoff expansion. Third, it slows the momentum of the expansionist SEC by limiting their entrants in the CFP until after 2025. Fourth, it either stalls the departure of OU to the SEC (their lane to the CFP is clearer in the Big12), or if makes their path extremely difficult if they leave the Big12 early. So to me, the question isn’t “Who doesn’t want CFP expansion?” It’s “Who wants it more before 2026?” Or, put another way, “Wouldn’t delaying the CFP expansion dampen the momentum of the SEC and be better for the other power conferences, and college football in general, in the long run?”

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  2. Christian

    Great analysis Frank, and I completely agree. The threats of delaying the expanded playoff implementation is likely a lot of sabre rattling by the anti-SEC crowd, and mostly to extract some favors such as Rose Bowl positioning and auto-bids for the P4 conferences (mostly a Pac 12 wish list item).

    I’m surprised by the high number of learned folks even on site that want a cap on playoff teams from one conference. We accept that one crappy division winner will make the NFL playoffs each year (usually an 8-8 NFC East division winner), but would we accept the 8-9 Lions (to recalibrate for the 17 game season) being awarded a wild card over the 11-6 LA Rams, simply because they finished third in the NFC West and only 2 teams per division could make the playoffs? Fans would be furious, and I hope CFB fans would be similarly displeased if 8-4 Iowa made the playoffs over 10-2 Auburn due to a per-team cap.

    So, we can live with one (and maybe sometimes two) lowly ranked conference champs getting in, but the remaining teams need to be the best available, even if it means letting in six B1G teams in one crazy, super strong B1G year.

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    1. Marc

      …auto-bids for the P4 conferences (mostly a Pac 12 wish list item).

      That issue is mostly about symbolism. The proposal was auto-bids for the top six FBS conference champs. The proposal did not treat the power conferences any differently. But in all seven years of the playoff to date, the Pac-12 champ would have qualified.

      Even if the proposal doesn’t change, it would be the rare year that a power conference champ is not one of the six best in FBS, especially now that there are just four of them, with the top six qualifying automatically regardless of ranking.

      Like

      1. Penn State Danny

        Last year, the PAC 12 champ would not have qualified. Both Cincy and Coastal would have gotten the bids.

        In happened during the fake season of 2020..but it still happened.

        Like

        1. @Penn State Danny – True – the Pac-12 wouldn’t have made it in 2020.

          If the Big 12 hadn’t gotten knee-capped, I think the Pac-12 would still be pushing hard for a guaranteed auto-bid for its champ. It’s quite a bit different when it’s effectively going to be a Power 4 with the Big 12 being on the borderline. Realistically, it would take an outright disaster for the Pac-12 to not be among the top 6 conference champs and they’re frankly going to be in pole position to get one of the top 4 conference champ byes each year.

          That reminds me: the 12-team playoff system as proposed definitely puts the divisional requirement for leagues larger than 10 schools to hold a championship game on the chopping block. Look for all of the leagues to vote for allow for the top 2 teams in each league (however that’s defined) be able to play in a conference championship game without any round-robin or divisional restrictions. The 12-team playoff makes it imperative to make sure that their 2 best teams regardless of locations are always playing for the league title.

          Like

          1. bullet

            Well the BCS era includes a Big East, but the Pac would have missed twice in the BCS era as would the Big 10. One of the Big 10’s was when Ohio St. was on probation and 8-5 Wisconsin won the title. The other time Iowa would have been in but champ Michigan was the #7 champ. The ACC would have missed 4 times. They had a number of weak champs from 2000-2010.

            Like

    2. Brian

      Christian,

      “We accept that one crappy division winner will make the NFL playoffs each year (usually an 8-8 NFC East division winner),”

      Who is this “we” you speak of. I think the NFL playoff structure is idiotic in myriad ways and I don’t watch it.

      “but would we accept the 8-9 Lions (to recalibrate for the 17 game season) being awarded a wild card over the 11-6 LA Rams, simply because they finished third in the NFC West and only 2 teams per division could make the playoffs?”

      Be reasonable. The lions may never win 8 games again.

      Your analogy is flawed because NFL divisions are not akin to P5 conferences and the scheduling is totally different. Besides, most people proposing caps would endorse minimum requirements to get in. In reality you’re talking about a 9-3 team replacing a 10-2 team at worst.

      “Fans would be furious,”

      Not if those were the rules in advance. They accept each NFL conference getting the same number of teams rather than taking the top 16 records (or however many make the playoff now).

      “and I hope CFB fans would be similarly displeased if 8-4 Iowa made the playoffs over 10-2 Auburn due to a per-team cap.”

      Facts don’t support such a large gap. The highest ranked non-SEC 8-4 team in 2019 was #22, #24 in 2018, #23 in 2017, #19 in 2016, none in top 25 in 2015, and #23 in 2014. At worst it would be a 9-3 team (maybe 9-4 with a CCG loss). Often it would be a like for like swap (9-3 for 9-3 or even 10-2 for 10-2).

      “So, we can live with one (and maybe sometimes two) lowly ranked conference champs getting in,”

      Lots of fans don’t like that at all, but the G5 will demand it. And it’s rare that 2 lowly ranked champs would make it. Usually there are a lot of highly ranked champs, including a couple from the G5.

      As it turns out, fans can live with anything – because they have no alternative.

      “but the remaining teams need to be the best available,”

      As determined by a biased committee (all committees are biased – they’re human)? The committee can’t promise that #12 is better than #14, We’ve seen enough upsets to know that rankings aren’t that precise, and the lower you go the smaller the gaps between teams.

      No, it most certainly doesn’t need to be that.

      Like

  3. z33k

    Basically just waiting for early next year when Big Ten/FOX should start working on what the next 5-10 years looks like.

    Alliances are a temporary solution. Realignment is the only long-term solution. But if realignment isn’t plausible due to the financial aspect not being there, then perhaps really only alliances work.

    I’m still a firm believer though that the Big Ten presidents would invite at least a bunch of Pac-12/ACC schools, so I don’t think we’re done yet and this will likely take years to sort through.

    Like

    1. The B10 should focus on getting Virginia and North Carolina as soon as possible. These will be the next targets of the SEC commissioner. Who’s leadership would you bet your money on – Sankey or Warren?

      Like

    1. Marc

      That’s consistent with the premise of Frank’s previous post. It was sheer fantasy that that the AAC would pillage the Remaining Eight. It will be the opposite.

      The AAC might have had a chance if the B12’s best remaining teams got pillaged by the Pac-12, but that now seems unlikely.

      Like

  4. Brian

    Frank,

    “The way that the Big Ten receives profits and revenue directly as a part-owner of the Big Ten Network is simply much more significant than what the SEC receives from the SEC Network (which is wholly-owned by Disney/ESPN) and that has largely accounted for the revenue difference between the two leagues for the past decade despite the SEC performing better on-the-field.”

    I object. Since 2014, the B10 would’ve had 20 teams in a 12-team CF to the SEC’s 19. AL has won lots of national titles, but the SEC hasn’t greatly separated itself from the B10 on the field the past decade. The B10 is 17-25 against the SEC heads up over that period (40.5%). MSU, MN, NW, OSU, PU and RU are all 50% or better vs the SEC over that period. The ACC and B12 have done a little better (46% and 44%), but in a lot more games and especially more regular season games.

    Like

    1. Marc

      I suspect Frank is talking about the highest-profile games that national fans tend to notice. I know they all count the same, but I suspect most people would not have been able to tell you Rutgers or Purdue’s record against the SEC.

      Like

  5. Brian

    Frank,

    “I have seen a lot of fans suggest that leagues outside of the SEC would want to cap the number of teams from each conference that could make the playoffs, but they’re forgetting is that the Big Ten absolutely doesn’t want that at all, either. This is one issue where the Big Ten and SEC are aligned.”

    I don’t agree here, either. Maybe pre-OU/UT the B10 wouldn’t want any cap, but things are different now. The expanded SEC would’ve gotten up to 25 (depends on how many of OU’s CFP trips would be additive rather than replacing a different SEC team) CFP slots out of 84, almost 4 per year on average with a max of 5. The B10 would’ve gotten 20 in 7 years with a max of 4.

    The B10 would’ve still gotten 19 with a cap of 3 in place, with the expanded SEC also getting 19. That looks a lot better for the B10, and the difference in money is likely trivial (current extra teams get $4M). A cap of 4 would cost the B10 nothing (would’ve had 4 only in 2016), but cost the SEC 2 trips potentially (23 max vs 20 for B10).

    I don’t see any reason the B10 would be against a reasonable cap, especially if the ACC and P12 and others were strongly in favor of it.

    Like

  6. Brian

    Frank,

    “Ultimately, fans generally love this 12-team playoff proposal.”

    No, they love the idea of more big games and have put zero thought into the rest. Fans love the idea of a 20-game NFL season. Fans love the idea of playing a 7-game NBA series in 7 days. Fans love seeing players get hit in the head and knocked out. Fans love lots of stupid things, because they haven’t thought about the logistics or consequences. Like kids, they just want more of what they like no matter what.

    “It’s interesting that the only pushback that I ever see about the proposal are places like the comment section of my blog and hardcore college football-centric forums. We get into the weeds of the process and are hyper-focused on who gets an advantage. However, there hasn’t been a single “normal” sports fan out there that I’ve spoken to that doesn’t *LOVE* this proposal… and it’s the “normal” sports fans that are required for the massive audiences that justify ESPN paying for this playoff in the first place.”

    I must be talking to different fans. Maybe its because most casual CFB fans are NFL fans, so anything that looks like NFL-lite they prefer.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Brian

    Frank,

    “Believe me when I tell that even what the general public considers to be “wealthy” schools got financially hammered with the pandemic in the past year (and it isn’t over yet). So, as much as a school like Ohio State might be fine with waiting to take a new playoff system to the open market for TV negotiations, the reality is that the vast majority of other college can’t wait for 5 more years for a new playoff system when they legitimately need the money NOW (as in the Death Star reactor core is about to explode NOW).”

    I disagree here, too. Yes schools lost a lot of money, both on the academic side and the athletic side, but that doesn’t mean they became stupid. First, the extra amount schools will make is unknown so far. Second, the increase they could get by going to the open market could be tremendous. They’ll have plenty of bean counters crunching the numbers to see which makes more sense. They can borrow money for almost free right now, so waiting 5 years to get a windfall might be the much smarter choice.

    Third, people that matter have already expressed concerns about just letting ESPN have the contract. They recognize not only the potential loss of money, but also the power they’d be putting in the hands of the network that owns the SEC and perhaps involved itself in conference realignment directly. Other sports use multiple networks to carry their playoffs and it keeps all those networks engaged and hyping the playoff all year. Rushing to hand everything to ESPN is risky in multiple ways.

    “The proverbial genie was out of the bottle as soon as the 12-team playoff proposal was announced publicly. Can you imagine if we had to wait 5 years for a 12-team playoff and all we’d hear every week is, “If the 12-team playoff were in place today, then these teams would be in, but we still have to wait a bunch of more years.””

    So? We hear crap like that every year anyway. How long did we hear about what a 4-team playoff would look like? And then the CFP was approved 2 years before it was played.

    “No conference can look their fans in their eyes and in good faith reject the playoff at this point.”

    Sure they can. They won’t, but they can. They could always play the player safety card.

    But more importantly they could push back on aspects of the proposed plan, like when and where to play games, capping teams from 1 conference, etc. I don’t think anyone has really argued that CFP expansion won’t happen, or even that it won’t go to 12 teams. It’s all the other key pieces we think might be argued over, but you dismiss those. I think those details are exactly where the alliance stands up to the SEC. because the SEC wants the money too and they won’t have many allies on certain points.

    Like

    1. Marc

      First, the extra amount schools will make is unknown so far.

      I don’t think the SEC knows exactly how much it will make by adding Oklahoma and Texas. I don’t think the B1G knew exactly how much it would make by adding Rutgers and Maryland. Going back farther, the schools probably didn’t know exactly how much they’d make when they went from 10 regular-season games to 11, and then 11 to 12. But they knew it would go up.

      Second, the increase they could get by going to the open market could be tremendous. They’ll have plenty of bean counters crunching the numbers to see which makes more sense. They can borrow money for almost free right now, so waiting 5 years to get a windfall might be the much smarter choice.

      I agree with Brian that Frank is overestimating the chances of a quick change from 4 to 12. Anything before 2026 requires all parties to agree to tear up the existing contracts. That fact alone gives each party tremendous leverage, from ESPN to the Sun Belt Conference.

      But if the format is agreed — a big IF — I don’t see a downside to expanding now, subject to agreement that the next contract is put out for bid. Getting the most out of the next 5 years does not preclude an open bid after that.

      Like

      1. Brian

        Marc,

        When I say it’s unknown, I’m saying they need to hear a number from ESPN and then get an estimate of what others might offer on the open market.

        If ESPN says the money will double from $80M per year per P5 conference to $160M but analysts say the market might make that $200M per year, then you wait because it’ll pay for itself. But if analysts say the market would only up that to $170M, then waiting doesn’t make much financial sense.

        Note: I’m just making up numbers to have an example.

        “But if the format is agreed — a big IF — I don’t see a downside to expanding now, subject to agreement that the next contract is put out for bid. Getting the most out of the next 5 years does not preclude an open bid after that.”

        You’re assuming ESPN would do a short term deal through 2025. I’ve been assuming it would start a new, long term contract since they have to negotiate anyway. If ESPN would do a short term deal, then I agree that expanding sooner makes financial sense. I’m still not sure I’d want to put all the eggs in one basket, though. Maybe for 3-4 years as a trial.

        Like

        1. Kevin

          No reason to lock into a long-term deal with ESPN to buy an expanded playoff that would get you 2-3 years earlier than an expiring deal with multiple bidders. Doesn’t make any sense. Practice some patience.

          Like

    2. @Brian – True, there is risk. However, I think what a lot of people are missing here is that the SEC *did* make (from its point of view) a concession by protecting conference champs and even giving the top 4 conference champs a bye. If the SEC (and Notre Dame, for that matter) had their druthers, any playoff system would just be with straight at-large rankings (be it top 4, 8 or 12) without any consideration for conference champs at all. The conference champ protection was an item that the Pac-12 certainly wanted (and the Big Ten asked for in the top 4 CFP system but was rejected). The proposal also acknowledged that the playoff bowls would seek to give preference to traditional tie-ins, which is essentially speaking directly to the Rose Bowl/Big Ten/Pac-12.

      I’m not defending the SEC here, but they’re obviously a massive power player in this, which means that their point of view needs to be taken seriously.

      Other leagues can play chicken here because it takes unanimous consent to change the current CFP contract… but in turn, that leverage completely goes away if that current CFP contract is allowed to expire. The SEC could come back in 2025 and state that their 2021 proposal was a good faith attempt to compromise in the interest of getting a deal done, but since everyone rejected it and now that the contract is wide open, there shouldn’t be any conference champ protection at all (meaning ALL slots are at-large bids). I don’t think a lot of fans are taking the prospect of rejecting the current proposal backfiring seriously enough.

      There’s also the practical reality that if you’re taking a position that this CFP contract needs to go out to bid and not be given to ESPN, then what you’re really saying is that we’re waiting for the next 5 years until playoff expansion. ESPN is the one with contracts with all of the applicable entities (as I noted in my post that the “CFP contract” is really multiple ESPN contracts all put together) and they’re certainly not changing those contracts in a way that its going to shut them out. Maybe that’s OK with some parties, but let’s call a spade a spade here: a new playoff system cannot happen without ESPN being the broadcaster. That’s simply a contractual fact (among multiple contracts, no less).

      Now, I completely agree with you that the alliance is about other details regarding the playoff – I don’t dismiss that at all. It’s a large part of my analysis about the Rose Bowl and how the alliance might serve to ensure the game’s protection in the new system. Trust me when I say this – when I say that schools (ones that you would never think of) are hurting financially, they are seriously *HURTING*. (I can’t really be much more direct than this without exposing myself here.) When I see what’s occurring, the thought that they’re going to wait 5 years for the current CFP contract to expire would be bordering on financial malfeasance. Maybe this playoff gets delayed by a year simply because of timing now, but realistically, this is getting pushed through largely in the proposed format. I’d agree with you that the devil is in the details, though – that’s where the real discussion is as opposed to the overarching structure.

      Like

      1. Brian

        Frank,

        “However, I think what a lot of people are missing here is that the SEC *did* make (from its point of view) a concession by protecting conference champs and even giving the top 4 conference champs a bye.”

        It’s a tiny compromise. They refuse to give autobids or to properly value champs in the rankings, but everyone else is tired of them holding out so they had to give something. They still get a bye out of the deal.

        “If the SEC (and Notre Dame, for that matter) had their druthers, any playoff system would just be with straight at-large rankings (be it top 4, 8 or 12) without any consideration for conference champs at all.”

        If the SEC had their druthers, CFB would be professional and players wouldn’t have to be students.

        I’m not so sure ND would want champs ignored. I think they appreciate the tradition in the sport, and the importance of winning conferences is part of that fabric of CFB.

        “The proposal also acknowledged that the playoff bowls would seek to give preference to traditional tie-ins, which is essentially speaking directly to the Rose Bowl/Big Ten/Pac-12.”

        And the SEC, and the ACC, and even the B12. They all make huge money from those games.

        “I’m not defending the SEC here,”

        Yes, you are.

        “but they’re obviously a massive power player in this, which means that their point of view needs to be taken seriously.”

        When has their view not been taken seriously? They won every battle in the formation of the CFP – champs all but ignored in the rankings, top 4 go no matter what, bowl tie-ins nearly meaningless.

        “Other leagues can play chicken here because it takes unanimous consent to change the current CFP contract… but in turn, that leverage completely goes away if that current CFP contract is allowed to expire.”

        Not really. They have to be unanimous to sign a new deal, too. Sure, some/all of the G5 could just be left out but even the networks would balk at a CFP without all of the P5 on board. They tried that before and it didn’t work well.

        “The SEC could come back in 2025 and state that their 2021 proposal was a good faith attempt to compromise in the interest of getting a deal done, but since everyone rejected it and now that the contract is wide open, there shouldn’t be any conference champ protection at all (meaning ALL slots are at-large bids).”

        But people didn’t reject it, they honed it. It’s not like a detailed final proposal has been presented, just a general plan. Others having minor issues like a cap is different from them saying it is 8 teams or nothing.

        If the SEC tried that, they’d rightly get told to go screw themselves. Then they can be the ones blocking a playoff, or they can sign on. The SEC wants the money too.

        “I don’t think a lot of fans are taking the prospect of rejecting the current proposal backfiring seriously enough.”

        That’s because we all know all of them are too greedy not to sign something, including the SEC.

        “There’s also the practical reality that if you’re taking a position that this CFP contract needs to go out to bid and not be given to ESPN, then what you’re really saying is that we’re waiting for the next 5 years until playoff expansion. ”

        Yes, unless ESPN is willing to do a short term deal.

        But you know what else happens in those 5 years? The B10’s rights come up for bid. And the P12’s. And the B12’s. Maybe those conferences would rather have ESPN commit money to them first (or at least drive up what others will pay) before committing $0.5-1B to the CFP.

        “Now, I completely agree with you that the alliance is about other details regarding the playoff – I don’t dismiss that at all.”

        You keep glossing over it as details, like they should all sign first and then start discussing these things. I don’t see them as details, but as core issues of the CFP.

        “Trust me when I say this – when I say that schools (ones that you would never think of) are hurting financially, they are seriously *HURTING*.”

        I know they are, but I also know that CFP money is a drop in the bucket of their budgets. Right now the CFP pays about $5M per B10 school. If that doubles, it’s $5M more per year. Many athletic departments feared losing 10x that last year, let alone schools. But most I-A schools can readily borrow that at very friendly interest rates right now and pay it back with higher CFP money later.

        “Maybe this playoff gets delayed by a year simply because of timing now, but realistically, this is getting pushed through largely in the proposed format.”

        They said from the start that the 2022 season was the absolute soonest it could be done. As busy as people are with the pandemic again, it may take another year to finalize key aspects anyway. And every year closer to 2025, the less sense it makes not to wait for the open market.

        “I’d agree with you that the devil is in the details, though – that’s where the real discussion is as opposed to the overarching structure.”

        Yes, I don’t think the real work has even started.

        Like

      2. Jersey Bernie

        ESPN has a huge amount of leverage, since it is under contract till 2025. And?

        Does anyone know what that contract is for? Is it the semis and finals? I would be surprised if their contract gives them rights to all “playoff games” no matter the number. If it does give them all of those rights, someone should be telling their malpractice carrier about a major potential claim.

        If the additional games are somehow part of existing ESPN contract, where does the extra money come from? Is there already an escalator clause for more games? I hope not. Those extra games should be wide open, not the right of ESPN.

        If so the other games could be put out for bid. They are not worth as much as the semis and finals, but are worth a lot more with bidding than with ESPN dictating a value. That is not ideal, but it probably would work.

        As far as the power of the SEC, if three other P5 conferences take a position regarding the number of guaranteed slots or maximum number of guaranteed teams, who other than the SEC will disagree. Having fewer SEC teams means that ND, for example, has extra room to make the 12. Every G5 team will be thrilled and so will the Big 12 or whatever it is now.

        Then the SEC and ESPN will be faced with taking a 12 team playoff where the SEC is likely guaranteed three slots every year or killing the deal entirely, which should make every other league in the country do its best to limit SEC teams in the current final four. I do not know how much power the other P5 leagues would have to cut down on SEC final four teams, but I would imagine it would be possible to create pressure limit the SEC to a maximum of two, and hopefully one. The SEC blowing up the 12 team playoff because of greed by them or ESPN would be ugly.

        As far as fans wanting a fourth or fifth SEC team rather than a third B1G, or a second or third ACC, or PAC, other than SEC fans no one would want extra teams from one league. I am not quite sure how a 10-2 SEC team winds up fourth in the league anyway. If the number 3 B1G team or number 2 ACC team is 9-3 and the number 4 SEC team is 9-3, no one other than ESPN and the SEC will care about the argument that the number 4 SEC had a better schedule and should have been let in.

        Like

        1. @Jersey Bernie – It’s not simply a matter of adding a round or two and calling them extra games that are outside of the ESPN contract. As I’ve noted, what ESPN actually has is multiple contracts with the CFP, Rose Bowl, Sugar Bowl and Orange Bowl. The semifinal games that played in the Contract Bowl actually are under their respective bowl agreements as opposed to the umbrella CFP agreement. In order for this to be altered (for instance, changing those Contract Bowls from semifinal games or non-playoff games to being quarterfinal games), it requires the agreement of ESPN. As with any standard agreement, it requires unanimous consent from all of the parties for an amendment.

          I doubt that there’s an escalator clause in the ESPN agreements that deal with a change in the playoff system. However, expanding the playoff system really does require the amendment of every contract that’s connected to the CFP, which means that ESPN has to agree to all of those amendments in order for it to be completed prior to 2025.

          Like

        2. Brian

          Bernie,

          I believe ESPN has separate contracts with each of the 6 bowls in the CFP, plus with the CFP itself for the NCG. Any change to the CFP would impact those bowls, hence the problem. Frank can probably give more legal details.

          Like

          1. Jersey Bernie

            Without knowing details of the ESPN contract(s), it is impossible to know the precise situation.

            All that I am saying is in theory the contracts for the semis and final could be left totally intact, and the extra games could be put out to bid, rather than given to ESPN. This would probably be for no more than 2 or 3 years max. Then everything is wide open.

            I really do not understand why the first two rounds (four games for 5-12 seeds, and then four games between those winners and seeds 1 to 4 with byes) could not go out for bid. Then there would be four teams for two semis and a final, under contract with ESPN. Why does that not work?

            There are enough sites to play those eight games without impinging on any ESPN contracts, including northern domes. Pro stadiums with domes could be used on Saturdays when they are otherwise empty.

            If I am missing something, please explain. Seriously, thanks.

            Like

          2. @Jersey Bernie – We know this much: what we know as the “CFP contract” actually doesn’t contain all of the rights to the semifinals. They consist of the rights to the National Championship Game, and the applicable semifinals and access bowls played in the Peach, Cotton and Fiesta Bowls.

            The Rose Bowl contract is separate and contains to the rights to all of its games during the contract, whether they’re the semifinals that it hosts (once every three years) or the non-playoff bowl games the other years.

            The Sugar and Orange Bowls have the same deals as the Rose Bowl.

            Therefore, at a minimum, you can’t just contractually change the semifinal structure without altering all of the Rose, Sugar and Orange Bowl contracts that are with ESPN if the plan is to use them as quarterfinals. In fact, if you were to try to apply your argument, ESPN’s response would be that it already has the rights to all of the Rose, Sugar and Orange Bowls (whether they’re playoff games or not), so if the system changes so that they’re now quarterfinals, they get those games without having to pay another dime.

            There’s no way around it: changing the system before 2025 will absolutely require ESPN to agree to it. For that matter, it will also require everyone from the SEC to the Sun Belt to agree to it, too. Besides, everyone wants to get paid more for the semifinals and national championship on top of all of this, too, so the point is effectively moot where they wouldn’t even want to add on a separate first/second round contract, anyway.

            Like

  8. Brian

    Frank,

    “Request #3 seems to be a bit strange and conflicts with the notion of a permanent Rose Bowl quarterfinal game on New Year’s Day. This might be taken to mean that Pasadena would have a Most Favored Nation position to host these games in addition to the Rose Bowl Game itself. That’s a little tougher to see.”

    I don’t see a conflict. At the end of the BCS, the bowl sites double-hosted. They want to be in equal rotation for these games, not see it always going elsewhere. It could be a way to keep some tradition – play the CFP at the major bowl sites. All 4 host the quarterfinals (Rose, Sugar, Orange, Cotton/Fiesta), then 3 of 4 get the semis and NCG. I suppose the other of Cotton/Fiesta should be included in this mix. Relegate the Peach back to its prior status.

    Like

  9. Brian

    Frank,

    “Speaking of the Power 4, it’s instructive that the Big 12 was left out of the Big Ten/Pac-12/ACC alliance discussions entirely. The Big 12 is looking at a position similar to the old Big East football conference following the ACC’s raid of Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College as a league that’s above the non-power conferences, but clearly behind the other power conferences. The silver lining is that the alliance discussions also indicate that the Big 12 isn’t likely to be poached further, which means that it can move forward with unity as a league (even if its individual members may long for an invite elsewhere).”

    It’s possible they felt the B12 was little busy right now and that anything the three of them agreed on they could discuss with the B12 later.

    Like

    1. davidpsu

      It’s also possible that they want to keep information confidential and away from the SEC. The Big12 now contains 2 SEC spies. Maybe the B12 will be included after Texas and OK officially leave the B12.

      Like

  10. Brian

    https://www.espn.com/college-football/story/_/id/32039439/nick-saban-qa-college-football-playoff-expansion-nil-vaccines-more

    On an unrelated note, this is an interesting interview with Nick Saban about all the major issues in CFB today, including CFP expansion.

    On the transfer portal:

    I think it’s going to create less opportunities for players, not more. If you look at some of the [Group of 5] schools, why would you recruit [high school] players when you can take transfers? You can only transfer once. You know if you get 19 transfers they’re going to be here. If I get a good [high school] player, he might leave. Why would you recruit high school players? That’s just a lot of opportunities the high school kids won’t get.

    Like

  11. z33k

    Rose Bowl contract with ESPN is a 12 year contract through 2026 that includes the Big Ten/Pac-12 as part of the arrangement.

    Even if the rest of the conferences (read SEC/ESPN/AAC/rest of G5) want to try to extend the deal, I just don’t see the incentive for the Big Ten/Pac-12/Rose Bowl to agree to it.

    The Big Ten/Pac-12 switched over to FOX as the main T1/2 provider after agreeing to that ESPN/Rose Bowl deal; just seems like FOX is a much more natural fit for the next Rose Bowl TV deal now. That’s a major issue with re-opening/extending the deal as part of an expanded CFP.

    Re-opening/extending the contract just doesn’t make sense. Why wouldn’t you want the Rose Bowl with the main T1/2 provider for both conferences now and then sort out the CFP side of things.

    Like

    1. z33k

      I fully understand that the expansion of the CFP has plenty of incentives (financially, spots for Pac-12/G5 teams regularly/etc), but at the same time, it’s probably better sorted out in a couple years when it comes time to make a new Rose Bowl TV deal than reopening this current deal which can only be done with ESPN.

      Also, are we even sure ESPN is paying market rates for this content? ESPN hasn’t had to openly bid on the big bowls since what 2012-2015?

      Even a raise as part of reopening the deal doesn’t make sense to extend it into the 2030s without hitting the open market and getting FOX/CBS/NBC involved.

      Like

    2. @z33k – The Rose Bowl is a different animal. Remember that they’re also selling the primary TV rights to the Rose Parade in the same contract and that’s where they *really* prefer Disney/ABC over Fox.

      I think a lot of people are underestimating the incentives for existing parties to extend the deal, especially the bowls. While you can argue that the Big Ten and Pac-12 could wait because they’re inherently power conferences, it’s the Rose Bowl and the other top bowls that have a lot of incentive to get an extension sooner more than anyone. Right now, the offer on the table is that the existing NY6 bowls get the quarterfinals and semifinals… and they’re simply not getting better than that deal. Any future deal risks all of the parties deciding to decouple the playoffs from the bowls entirely, which is the bowls’ worse case scenario.

      I wouldn’t go overboard in calling Fox the main TV provider for the Big Ten and Pac-12 – it’s more like 51/49 sharing with ESPN. The rights fee difference for the Big Ten is due to Fox getting the conference championship game and the first regular season game pick (which has always been Michigan-Ohio State), but it’s otherwise 50/50 down the middle between Fox and ESPN.

      Plus, I hope no one is overrating Fox’s position here. It is a MUCH weaker and smaller company (by its own design) compared to when the Big Ten signed its current TV contracts. Disney itself bought pretty much everything that gave Fox (the company) its overall heft, so the danger of not having at least some alignment with Disney/ESPN is even greater than before. (Can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em.)

      Putting all of that aside, remember that there was a time when the BCS contract was actually split: all of the BCS bowls and national championship game last were on Fox for several years… but Disney/ABC still kept the Rose Bowl and any national championship games that were played in Pasadena.

      It all makes sense because the Rose Bowl is a particularly important sports property to The Walt Disney Company. We can bash ESPN all that we want, but when you watch their coverage of the Rose Bowl, they really do treat it with a reverence that you don’t see anywhere else except for maybe their coverage of The Masters.

      Why? It’s because the Rose Bowl is a perfect microcosm of what The Walt Disney Company does best: synergy. When you wake up on New Year’s Day, you turn on the Rose Parade on ABC (optimally on your Hulu Live streaming service) that has a ton of promotions for new Disney/Marvel/Star Wars/Pixar movies and shows for the upcoming year (and maybe even some floats) along with promoting the Rose Bowl Game on ESPN that will also have a ton of promotions for new Disney/Marvel/Star Wars/Pixar movies and shows for the upcoming year, which then entices you to watch those movies in theaters and buy the Disney+ streaming service, which then your family wants to buy a ton of toys and clothes hooked to those properties, and then they become so enthralled with it all that you spend five figures on a trip to Disneyland or Disney World (all of which can be added on to your tickets to the next year’s Rose Bowl or Citrus Bowl as shown on ESPN)… and then the cycle starts again.

      THAT is what Disney is looking for. It’s not about controlling college football. It’s about finding brands that spur the synergy cycle that I described above that gets you connected to something that Disney owns virtually every day of your life. The Rose Bowl is a great example of this – Disneyland is the biggest beneficiary of Rose Bowl tourists outside of the City of Pasadena itself, they get the Rose Parade in the morning on ABC and the Rose Bowl Game on ESPN in the afternoon. If you can deliver that type of synergy to Disney, they’ll pay up. In turn, the Tournament of Roses needs more than just a broadcaster for the game. They need a partner that combines the parade and game into an event along with driving people to actually visit Pasadena… and no one does better selling trips than Disney. Fox can’t do the same (and neither can any of the other networks).

      Like

      1. Brian

        Frank,

        Nobody is saying the CFP should desert ESPN, just that they shouldn’t be handed a monopoly without even asking others for a bid.

        “I think a lot of people are underestimating the incentives for existing parties to extend the deal, especially the bowls.”

        I think the bowls have a lot of protection from the P4. They want their bowls to be involved, so they will be.

        “it’s the Rose Bowl and the other top bowls that have a lot of incentive to get an extension sooner more than anyone. Right now, the offer on the table is that the existing NY6 bowls get the quarterfinals and semifinals… and they’re simply not getting better than that deal.”

        Maybe the non-contract bowls want to push that, but the contract bowls don’t. The Rose wanted equal access to the semis and NCG, something they don’t have in the current offer.

        “Any future deal risks all of the parties deciding to decouple the playoffs from the bowls entirely, which is the bowls’ worse case scenario.”

        No, I don’t think it does. The P4 want the bowls involved (some more than others, granted). The networks probably do as well because that built in branding helps them draw viewers. It’s win-win-win to keep them.

        “I wouldn’t go overboard in calling Fox the main TV provider for the Big Ten and Pac-12 – it’s more like 51/49 sharing with ESPN. The rights fee difference for the Big Ten is due to Fox getting the conference championship game and the first regular season game pick (which has always been Michigan-Ohio State), but it’s otherwise 50/50 down the middle between Fox and ESPN.”

        Good point, though I’d say it’s more like 55/45. But will ESPN still want that share with all their new SEC games? And will the skew their non-game coverage even more towards the SEC? The non-game coverage is one of the reasons people feel like Fox is the main broadcaster.

        “Plus, I hope no one is overrating Fox’s position here. It is a MUCH weaker and smaller company (by its own design) compared to when the Big Ten signed its current TV contracts. Disney itself bought pretty much everything that gave Fox (the company) its overall heft, so the danger of not having at least some alignment with Disney/ESPN is even greater than before. (Can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em.)”

        Is it weaker, or is it streamlined and focused? The B10 is one of its few valuable properties left, which makes the B10 important to them. Whether or not ESPN is still involved with the B10 is largely up to ESPN. I think the B10 wants it still, buty ESPN might choose to focus on the SEC.

        “It all makes sense because the Rose Bowl is a particularly important sports property to The Walt Disney Company. We can bash ESPN all that we want, but when you watch their coverage of the Rose Bowl, they really do treat it with a reverence that you don’t see anywhere else except for maybe their coverage of The Masters.”

        Is that supposed to be a good thing? Masters coverage is unwatchable. Non-B10/P12 fans have to feel the same way about how they treat the Rose Bowl. It bothers me and I’m a huge traditionalist and B10 fan.

        “It’s because the Rose Bowl is a perfect microcosm of what The Walt Disney Company does best: synergy.”

        Oh, I thought you were going to say schmaltz.

        “When you wake up on New Year’s Day, you turn on the Rose Parade on ABC (optimally on your Hulu Live streaming service) that has a ton of promotions for new Disney/Marvel/Star Wars/Pixar movies and shows for the upcoming year (and maybe even some floats) along with promoting the Rose Bowl Game on ESPN that will also have a ton of promotions for new Disney/Marvel/Star Wars/Pixar movies and shows for the upcoming year, which then entices you to watch those movies in theaters and buy the Disney+ streaming service, which then your family wants to buy a ton of toys and clothes hooked to those properties, and then they become so enthralled with it all that you spend five figures on a trip to Disneyland or Disney World (all of which can be added on to your tickets to the next year’s Rose Bowl or Citrus Bowl as shown on ESPN)… and then the cycle starts again.”

        I haven’t watched a second of that parade in probably 30 years and I don’t know anyone who does watch it (I know people do, I’m not arguing its ratings). I also don’t watch any of their movies or shows, so I guess all this synergy is lost on me. And who is it that watches commercials anymore? That is time to get a snack, go to the bathroom, or flip channels.

        “THAT is what Disney is looking for. It’s not about controlling college football.”

        Don’t kid yourself, they also want to control CFB.

        “In turn, the Tournament of Roses needs more than just a broadcaster for the game. They need a partner that combines the parade and game into an event along with driving people to actually visit Pasadena… and no one does better selling trips than Disney. Fox can’t do the same (and neither can any of the other networks).”

        Fox is based in LA. That probably means they can do some things that Disney can’t, too.

        Like

        1. z33k

          I agree with most of what you say, what I’d add is that FOX is a bit different now; although they did jettison the movie/television studio and more importantly the regional sports networks; they did make FS1/FS2 and sports is actually *much more* important to FOX now that they don’t own their television studio and aren’t making involved in actually making TV shows to the extent they were before.

          And of course they do own BTN. So in some sense their sports properties are now a larger part of FOX than before. Really if you boil it down most of the value in FOX is 3 segments: Fox News, FOX broadcast, and Fox Sports (FS1/FS2/BTN + sports on FOX broadcast).

          So I think I agree with the streamlined argument, though that does mean that its capital base is a lot smaller compared to before.

          But they do need content for FOX/FS1/FS2 and without TV studio of their own, live sports is much more important to them than say CBS or NBC.

          Like

          1. Kevin

            And I think that is just in the US. I believe they still have sports and news properties globally plus all the cash from the sale. Murdoch has stated that they are laser focused on live events. (News and sports). and key rights/properties. They can license other programming.

            Like

  12. Nathan

    “It wouldn’t surprise me if Phillips knows the Big Ten presidents and athletic directors better than Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren simply because of the length of time Phillips spent at Northwestern.”

    Boys, it’s just too bad Phillips wasn’t available when the Big Ten hired its new commissioner.

    Like

  13. LonghornMcLonghornface

    Not gonna wait for the next episode, here’s my prediction for the B12 leftovers: Nobody offers, and once UT and OU leave the Big Can’t Count Conference raids the G5. Why would any of the leftovers downgrade all the way to the ACC if they can keep the B12 together as a P5 and surely get a higher per year payout even after the steep pay cut? $15 > $10

    It’s possible they might lose the P5 status, and ESPN might try to lowball them, but there’s a lot of negotiations ahead between all parties regarding the timing and final buyout numbers. UT and OU want out before the GOR expiration, and have the money to reach a deal. ESPN has financial motive to negotiate that. I would not be surprised if some sort of deal (not necessarily a final new contract) with the post-B12 ends up occurring as a result of exit negotiations. In the end, it’s still just business.

    Obviously to survive long term, the B12 has to expand. 8 will be perceived as too weak, and so would 10 now. 12 at a minimum, 14 or 16 may be wiser, since ratings depend on perception. (Plus finally end that damn name being a joke. The conference has rights to “The Big 14”, and IIRC also “The Big 16″….)

    You don’t want to water it down reputation wise, but there’s enough quality G5’s that get decent ratings in games against good power 5 schools. Enough that an expanded B12 has the potential to often be viewed as the 3rd (maybe even the 2nd some years) best conference competitive wise by the public. That may not get a big $ boost, but it may be the difference between surviving or relegation to G5, or even completely outside if the P4 split away.

    The B12 is unlikely (I try to avoid saying never, but close to never) going to get a conference network, so brand (i.e. tv ratings) matters and getting into a new state doesn’t matter as much (though it can help with overall potential viewership.) As in, don’t get stuck in the previous rules of expansion. Many are still applicable, but P5 survival vs G5 means some different parameters. Though football still is what mostly matters. And some schools joining for football only may be more possible than in other expansions.

    So I’d say if they go to 12, the biggest brands available are BYU, UCF, and Boise. Cincy is noticeably weaker, but on a hot streak lately. If they don’t lose more than 2 games this year they may be the best #4.

    While they obviously don’t come close to carrying their states, FL and Ohio are still big states in big recruiting areas. UCF is a huge school and thus a fast growing alumni base in one of the fastest growing states. BYU has a significant national Mormon base, and while Boise has competitively taken a step back lately, they (for now) still do ok in the ratings based on their prior reputation.

    Based in part on the following methodically flawed but fairly decent ballpark rankings of tv viewership and brands (which somewhat correlate to other data based attempts at analysis), U. Houston or Memphis might be a good substitute in that 12, or probably the best 13th an 14th candidates.

    TV ratings 2015-2019:

    View at Medium.com

    brand rankings:

    View at Medium.com

    Going to 16, USF is an obvious 15th (or maybe higher, depending on how Fox and/or ESPN value schools), but then it gets iffy, with no clear standouts.

    Since they lost the Chargers, I’d say San Diego St. might be the best play for TV ratings. Get into the California. (Fresno State’s tv market(s), even if you include Bakersfield, is significantly smaller.) No it won’t carry the SD TV market, but there’s opportunity. Again, we aren’t talking typical P5 expansion, but a B12 expansion for survival, that hinges on public perception (which translates into viewers.)

    If 18, Fresno State as a travel partner for SD St and more effort to get west coast viewers plus either Temple or UConn for a WV travel partner and (very weak) more east coast presence. Maybe SMU if going to 20, but at that point it starts to look really watered down.

    All the others are just too small perception/market wise or too new performance wise (Coastal Carolina) or too duplicative or also ran in their region.

    And don’t add the military schools. Perhaps a slight ratings boost early on, but they’ve all expressed that they don’t want to do what it takes to compete at a P5 level (physical and academic issues, among others) and might fall even further behind in the new era of NIL, wild west recruiting, and possibly future expanded rosters and/or directly paying players.

    I think 14 or 16 is probably the sweet spot. Raid the perceived on the field best of the G5 to take away competition (“P6” talk) and solidify as the only conference that can compete with the P4.

    Like

    1. Longhorn McLonghornface

      For ease of comparison:

      TV ratings 2015-2019:

      View at Medium.com

      19 OK St
      24 TCU (30’s if exclude Ohio St game)
      30 WV
      35 Baylor
      37 TTech
      44 IA St
      ….46 BYU
      ….50 U.Hou
      51 K.St
      ….58 UCF
      ….59 Memphis
      ….62 Boise
      ….64 Cincy
      ….66 USF
      70 KS
      ….73 SMU

      brand rankings:

      View at Medium.com

      31 OK St
      32 TTech
      37 WV
      ….39 BYU
      40 IA St
      43 K.St
      47 TCU
      55 KS
      ….56 UCF
      59 Baylor
      ….62 Boise
      ….65 USF
      ….69 Memphis
      ….70 U.Hou
      ….71 Cincy
      ….73 SMU

      (Hope this formats correctly)

      Like

    2. Brian

      Interesting lists.

      Which schools’ brands are most exceeding their ratings lately?

      These are the ones 10 or more spots lower in the TV ratings:
      Kentucky -32
      Illinois -22
      Missouri -22
      Rutgers -21
      Georgia Tech -20
      South Carolina -19
      Kansas -15
      Arizona State -13
      Arizona -10

      A lot of basketball schools on there, showing that hoops can build a brand. The others just stink (RU, ASU, SC).

      Whose ratings exceed their brands?
      These are the ones 10 or more spots higher in the TV ratings:

      Washington State +28
      Baylor +24
      Stanford +23
      TCU +23 (skewed by OSU game with 7M viewers)
      Northwestern +22
      Houston +20
      Indiana +18
      Louisville +12
      Oklahoma State +12 (helped by Bedlam)
      Syracuse +11 (vs ND)
      Memphis +10

      Lots of historically bad teams who have been better lately, or teams who played a king to skew the numbers.

      B10:

      TV # School     Viewers(k) Brand # Delta
      1  Ohio State     5190      1     +0
      3  Michigan       4180      2     -1
      10 Penn State     2550      5     -5
      12 Wisconsin      2270     15     +3
      15 Michigan State 2200     19     +4
      21 Iowa           1570     18     -3
      22 Nebraska       1510     16     -6
      34 Indiana        1170     52     +18
      39 Northwestern    867     61     +22
      41 Minnesota       803     36     -5
      52 Maryland        681     58     +6
      53 Purdue          620     54     +1
      68 Illinois        401     46     -22
      69 Wake Forest     398     72     +3
      72 Rutgers         266     51     -21

      Like

      1. Jersey Bernie

        There are some problems with the analysis, which are mentioned and then ignored. Namely network carriage. I certainly agree that Rutgers football has been lousy, but the methodology is totally unfair. For example it appears that in 2020 RU only appeared on BTN and a few times on FS1.

        This is only for 2020 and RU viewership must have been much worse in 2015 or 2016 than it is now. Somehow I suspect that five years ago all of the RU games were on BTN only.

        This article shows the ratings of every single televised college football game during 2020. RU did not appear a single time on any network or ESPN, where the big ratings are found. I know that there were better games than RU games on the prime TV spots, but to then conclude that the ratings were lousy is circular. Lousy team begets lousy TV spot begets lousy ratings, and on and on.

        We put you on BTN which has much smaller viewership, you get smaller viewership, so of course you belong on BTN, with a less viewers.

        For example on Dec 18, RU v. NE on BTN had move viewers than UCLA v Stanford on ESPN. On Dec 5, RU, USC and UCLA were on FS1. RU v PSU had a noon timeslot, while UCLA v ASU was 10:30 pm and USC v Wash St was on at 7:30 pm. The RU game had more viewers than either UCLA or USC. On Oct 31, RU v Indiana had the most viewers of any FS1 game.

        Maryland which is ranked in the analysis at 52 was on ESPN and on ESPN2. Not much of a shock that ESPN or ESPN2 generally had many more viewers than BTN or FS1.

        The only point of this is that while RU has been terrible, so is this methodology.

        https://www.sportsmediawatch.com/college-football-tv-ratings/

        Like

        1. Marc

          Namely network carriage. I certainly agree that Rutgers football has been lousy, but the methodology is totally unfair….The only point of this is that while RU has been terrible, so is this methodology.

          What would your methodology be? It seems to me totally factual, and while a Rutgers fan might not like these facts, that doesn’t make them unfair.

          Nobody’s going to give Rutgers the Game of the Week on ABC, on the off-chance that the methodology was wrong, and they’re actually more popular than Michigan. The Scarlet Knights simply will have to go out and prove it on the field, when they get the chance. When you win regularly, your TV coverage improves.

          TCU’s ranking is highly skewed by their game against Ohio State. But look at what TCU did to get that game. Before 2000, TCU had no ranked seasons in the previous 40 years. If they had played then, it would probably have been the noon game on a tier 2 network.

          If Rutgers ever wins at football consistently, it will get the higher profile TV slots. If it continues to be terrible, it won’t.

          Like

        2. Brian

          Bernie,

          “There are some problems with the analysis, which are mentioned and then ignored. Namely network carriage. I certainly agree that Rutgers football has been lousy, but the methodology is totally unfair. For example it appears that in 2020 RU only appeared on BTN and a few times on FS1.

          This is only for 2020 and RU viewership must have been much worse in 2015 or 2016 than it is now. Somehow I suspect that five years ago all of the RU games were on BTN only.”

          Yes the methodology has flaws. But there is no pure way to do this. What you can do is look at relative ratings in similar windows (network and time) against similar foes, but that takes more data. He did ignore 2020 with all its oddities at least.

          “This article shows the ratings of every single televised college football game during 2020.”

          If you go to the end, it has links for every year back to 2012. In 2015 RU got a prime time ABC game against OSU (it’s good to be new to the conference) and 5.29M viewers. But they got destroyed and that impacted future games, I’m sure. The B10 wanted games in NYC but the blowouts by OSU and UM against RU really hurt RU’s reputation

          Other 2015 OSU games ignoring Labor Day weekend:
          ABC 12:00 UM 10.83M
          ABC 3:30 MSU 11.05M
          ABC 12:00 IL 4.08M
          ABC 8:00 MN 4.79M
          ABC 8:00 PSU 5.87M
          ABC 3:30 IN 7.30M
          ABC 3:30 WMU 3.72M
          ABC 3:30 NIU 5.35M

          Other games must have been on BTN, which doesn’t provide ratings.

          So tell me, how much of that 5.29M was for OSU and how much was for RU?

          It’s also why it’s key to note that for most schools the brand ranking and their TV ratings rankings were quite similar. Yes, there is a chicken and egg issue to that but a lot of it comes down to winning. The brands track pretty well with overall W%, too.

          “RU did not appear a single time on any network or ESPN, where the big ratings are found. I know that there were better games than RU games on the prime TV spots, but to then conclude that the ratings were lousy is circular. Lousy team begets lousy TV spot begets lousy ratings, and on and on.”

          But that’s reality. You get a reputation, then you have to work to change it if you don’t like it. Boise didn’t used to get coverage until they started winning a lot. RU got more coverage when they were winning under Schiano last time.

          “We put you on BTN which has much smaller viewership, you get smaller viewership, so of course you belong on BTN, with a less viewers.”

          Yes, but other schools get put there as well (IL, PU, MN, etc.). Explain why they out rate RU.

          “The only point of this is that while RU has been terrible, so is this methodology.”

          But it’s a reasonable attempt to analyze this limited data. There’s not enough games to get a good normalization across all the factors (opponent, network, time, other games on). A data analysis pro could do better, but the results might not change much despite the extra time.

          Feel free to prove him wrong by doing a better job of it.

          Like

          1. Marc

            It works the opposite way, too. If Ohio State’s next 10 seasons were like Rutgers’ last 10, they would sink. Now, brands take a long time to destroy, so they’d still probably be pulling in more viewers than Rutgers, but that only works for so long.

            In the lists posted above, I notice that Michigan, Penn State, and Nebraska, have all lost some ground, which tracks (albeit imperfectly) with their recent results.

            Like

      2. Andy

        Those TV ratings are from Missouri’s Odom years. Bad football teams that ended up on the SEC Alternative Network a lot of the time, a network with few viewers.

        During the Pinkel years, when Missouri was actually highly ranked at football and got good TV spots, Missouri often ranked in the top 25 in viewership.

        Numbers are going to swing wildly based on if a team is highly ranked or has a losing record.

        Like

    3. Marc

      So I’d say if they go to 12, the biggest brands available are BYU, UCF, and Boise. Cincy is noticeably weaker, but on a hot streak lately. If they don’t lose more than 2 games this year they may be the best #4.

      Frank has already said that he thinks Cincy is the one sure bet to be invited, just FYI.

      My concern with Boise is that they bring a tiny market. They are only useful when they’re winning. This is opposed to BYU, which is the only school besides Notre Dame that brings an entire church along with them.

      I think Houston would at least get a look for school #4.

      Plus finally end that damn name being a joke. The conference has rights to “The Big 14”, and IIRC also “The Big 16″….

      The Big Ten has done OK, even though it has not had ten schools for decades. I do think the B12 will add four, so they will be back at 12 again. No way they are changing the name to “Big 14,” even if they do got to 14.

      Like

  14. Brian

    https://apnews.com/article/sports-college-football-entertainment-alliance-college-sports-3de76274520065a5fb814ba311923295

    AP’s Ralph Russo on the alliance concept.

    In this case, there are two areas where the conferences believe working together has potential to fortify all three.

    SCHEDULING AND REVENUE

    The untapped revenue-generating potential in college football is in creating more big games. Or maybe better described as games between big brands

    A scheduling agreement among the ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 could lead to more made-for-TV marquee games: Think Southern California-Clemson; Ohio State-Miami; Penn State-Florida State; Oregon-Michigan.

    Of course, those types of games happen already. Oregon is at Ohio State and Washington plays at Michigan on Sept. 11.

    An alliance could make those juicy matchups more frequent, with the hope that they unlock more revenue in media rights agreements and ticket sales.

    When it happens, the SEC will certainly increase the number of conference games it plays from eight to nine and maybe even 10. Meanwhile, the SEC’s new deal with ESPN gives the network exclusive rights to all of its football starting in 2024.

    An SEC Saturday could include enough high-profile games, with prime slots on ESPN platforms, including the 3:30 p.m. ET showcase on ABC, that it overshadows the rest of college football.

    A game of the week featuring some combination of the best teams in the other three conferences is a potential way to push back.

    THE CFP AND POST-NCAA POLICY MAKING

    Barely two months after the 12-team plan was unveiled, SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey announced the conference was inviting in Oklahoma and Texas, crippling the Big 12 and creating a path to turning an expanded CFP into a mini-SEC tournament.

    The SEC’s power play has not gone over well in other conferences.

    An alliance between traditional Rose Bowl partners, the Big Ten and Pac-12, along with the ACC could be a way of containing the SEC’s growing influence over college football.

    The first step could be banding together to ensure the media rights for the new CFP format is brought to market instead of negotiating exclusively with ESPN. Unless ESPN can be persuaded to give up its window of exclusivity that might require waiting until the 2026 season to implement the 12-team format.

    The upside? Multiple TV partners could not only increase the value of the CFP, but give other networks more motivation to invest in regular-season college football. Perhaps in something like a yearly ACC/Big Ten/Pac-12 challenge?

    Finally, as the NCAA cedes power, conferences will take a bigger role in governance. An alliance between the ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 could prevent the SEC from setting an agenda the rest of the country is forced to follow if it wants to compete.

    Like

  15. Phil

    It is interesting that football crazy Texas will only have two power five schools- UT, ATM.
    I would have to think The PAC12 needs to offer TT a spot. Large enrollment, the 3rd public college in Texas, Plant the conference flag in Texas. West Texas is relatively close to the southwestern Pac12 schools. Opportunity for 9AM PST football games. It is tricky to find a 14th school to add with TTech. Especially if Conferences are allowed to decide Conference championships without divisions.

    Like

    1. Marc

      I would have to think The PAC12 needs to offer TT a spot.

      All of the reporting suggests they are in no hurry to do so.

      It is tricky to find a 14th school to add with TTech.

      If you look at the lists above, it turns out Oklahoma State is a much bigger TV draw than Texas Tech. Now, there is a huge caveat: will they keep their annual game with Oklahoma? My bet is, the state will figure out a way to make that happen. In contrast, I strongly suspect that Texas Tech won’t keep an annual rivalry with Texas, so they lose what is probably their most-watched game.

      Yes, everybody wants to be in Texas, but does the Pac-12 want the state’s #3 football school? I am not so sure.

      Like

      1. z33k

        Exactly, the situation in Texas is different than say Florida or California where the markets are much more split up in terms of population base/geography.

        Texas/Texas A&M are so far ahead of the #3 (Texas Tech) in the state of Texas that the value of Texas Tech is significantly less than say Cal in California or Miami in Florida (both arguably the #3s in their states).

        Cal and Miami have the advantage of separate territory; Cal has SF/North Cali, Miami has South Florida; both are different from the base of USC/UCLA or FSU/UF.

        Lubbock is not South Florida or North California; it’s not a separate giant portion of the state. Texas is centered around Houston/Dallas/San Antonio/Austin; all of which are far away from Texas Tech and cities that are focused around Texas/Texas A&M.

        Texas is much more like any of the other states that are basically just split between two large schools that overshadow the rest (Alabama, Michigan, Iowa, Kansas, South Carolina, Arizona, etc.).

        Hard to say there’s much value in taking Texas Tech. Maybe if they had a guaranteed annual date with Texas and A&M that’d be something, but that Texas game is going to get dropped.

        Like

        1. bullet

          While your basic premise is valid, you don’t really understand Texas. Texas is a huge state with a bunch of regions. There are more people and more area in Texas than Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee combined, states with 8 SEC schools. West Texas is very much a different region, although a not very populated one. And Tech has more alumni in DFW than A&M. So Tech does very well in DFW and areas west. In fact, my DFW area high school had more students go to Texas Tech than any other 4 year school.

          Texas and A&M do get coverage around the state, but A&M’s support is strongly centered in east and southeast Texas, an area where Tech has relatively few alumni.

          The SEC doesn’t get a lot of extra from adding Texas Tech. But the Pac might. Texas Tech is a big school with nearly 40,000 students, bigger than over half the Pac 12..

          Like

          1. z33k

            I get all that about population, but there aren’t that many people out in West Texas/Panhandle. That’s the problem.

            And ultimately it comes down to non-aligned fans/non-alums in a giant state like Texas. No different from Michigan which doesn’t even take in all that many undergrads from its state.

            What’s the difference between Texas Tech and UCF for example? They’re probably equally valuable. Texas Tech has some reach in Dallas Fort Worth sure due to alums just like UCF has plenty of pull around Orlando.

            But much more important is non-aligned/non-college grads for a discussion like this when you’re discussing how much pull those types of schools have in giant states.

            And on that mark, they just don’t have it outside of their home base.

            Schools like Texas/Ohio State/Michigan/Florida/Penn State/Georgia/SC/ND are so powerful because they have so many t-shirt fans that never attended from all parts of their states/regions.

            A&M probably doesn’t have anywhere near as many as say UT, but at least it has its base trending towards Houston.

            The problem is just when you look at the state of Texas, the vast majority of t-shirt fans in all parts of the state are probably fans of UT (virtually every type of map/survey of cfb fans confirms that). Then you have Texas Tech with its base around Lubbock and A&M with its base around college station.

            And that is why I think it’s a bit different from say California or Florida. Miami has a ton of t-shirt fans in South Florida; sure it’s a small private school but the big winning of the 80s/90s made an impact.

            I just don’t see the value in Texas Tech; having a lot of alumni is good, but Texas is so big that having 300k alumni there isn’t enough to make a big impact. You need millions of t-shirt fans to make that difference.

            Like

          2. stewlevine

            I live in the DFW area and spend a lot of time in Houston, Austin, and San Antonio. UT reaches statewide. A&M does too, but definitely gets more coverage in Houston and SA than in Austin or DFW. Texas Tech has a lot of alumni in DFW and you will see them (and Baylor) a lot in DFW. Definitely different than the distinct regions you would find in California.
            All that being said, I don’t see what Tech and Baylor or OKSU would bring to the Pac-12 or vice versa. Neither fits the image of each other. We can pay fantasy drafts of universities and leagues all we want, but I think we all need to recognize that UT and OU were clear needle movers with ability to move, value to bring, is attractive to the other conference members, and would make boosters happy. I am not sure anyone else fits all four (would ND’s boosters want to give up independence, does anyone really want to be in a league with BYU, could Clemson actually move before 2036)/

            Like

  16. Doug

    Frank,

    Off topic but you have your ear to the ground, so if anybody, you would know. For sometime there have been rumors that Illinois is going to start a D1 Hockey program. Back in the day Ill-Chi had a D1 program but it was ultimately dropped. Any thoughts?

    Like

    1. z33k

      Honestly don’t think anybody is going to think about adding any sports right now unless somebody like Pegula at Penn State drops in and gives $100 million to fully fund the program (with a new arena if not already provided for somehow with a convertible basketball arena like Nebraska has).

      There’s just way too much uncertainty with the 2021 fiscal year getting blown up by Covid and in the near-term all the uncertainty around NIL and what new NCAA structure is going to look like and whether that may include schools somehow paying players (not an immediate concern but could happen in some fashion down the line).

      Schools probably have to be as defensive as possible right now and only can really be spending on important infrastructure projects for football/basketball (other major sports maybe like baseball in the south or wrestling/hockey up north).

      Hard to imagine anybody adding ice hockey though right now given the big initial outlay that typically happens with that.

      Like

        1. z33k

          Yep, I can imagine that, I’d heard of those discussions. I think Nebraska had debated it as well given their basketball arena has convertability built in…; I’d figured one of those two would add it eventually.

          But we haven’t yet seen what the 2020-2021 distributions look like and those will be heavily dented by Covid due to the lost football games and budgets will also be slammed by lack of ticket revenue.

          And there’s still yet uncertainty about what this upcoming season will look like; will it be a full 100% revenue year (full stadiums and every game played?) or something less.

          Then add the uncertainty about NIL and what could happen to scholarships if the Autonomy 5 decide to add a payment mechanism for players…, and it’s just hard to see anybody adding anything right now.

          Probably have to wait at least 2 years for those discussions to come back; wait and see what the next TV deal looks like and what getting past Covid looks like and what the future of the NCAA looks like.

          Hard to add anything without certainty on those 3 fronts; just my opinion of course. I mean if I was an AD anywhere I wouldn’t add a sport unless a billionaire dropped in front the sky and offered to fully fund and endow it (i.e. Pegula at Penn State).

          Like

          1. Marc

            Adding a sport is a generational decision (as is discontinuing one), so I think AD’s will think a bit more long-term than you are suggesting.

            Then add the uncertainty about NIL and what could happen to scholarships if the Autonomy 5 decide to add a payment mechanism for players.

            I have not heard any serious suggestion that the A5 will pay their players directly. In fact, I could easily envision the opposite trend. The benefits that schools provide scholarship athletes have been steadily on the increase. With NIL benefits, third-party sponsors could easily take over some of that.

            For instance, you probably heard that Built brands will pay the tuition of every BYU walk-on. Most programs offer some walk-on scholarships, something BYU no longer needs to do. With very little imagination, you can envision all the ways that sponsors could start paying for things that the schools formerly needed to provide. How about a Dell computer for every Nebraska football player?

            Like

          2. Mike

            I think Nebraska had debated it as well given their basketball arena has convertability built in…; I’d figured one of those two would add it eventually

            IMO- the Pinnacle Bank Arena is too large for NCAA Hockey. PBA seats 15K while the top NCAA teams draw just over 10K (5500 put you in the top ten). Nebraska does own an on campus 4,500 seat hockey arena that they are leasing to the USHL’s Lincoln Stars until 2031. Outside of a mega-donor donating the money for a new arena, that would be the earliest.

            Like

          3. Marc

            Nebraska does own an on campus 4,500 seat hockey arena that they are leasing to the USHL’s Lincoln Stars until 2031.

            That is surely an obstacle that can be overcome. Plenty of NHL teams share arenas with NBA teams, and they play more games than a college hockey team does.

            Like

          4. Mike

            @Marc –

            That is surely an obstacle that can be overcome. Plenty of NHL teams share arenas with NBA teams, and they play more games than a college hockey team does.

            I do not know for sure, but I would think the lease the Stars signed was for exclusive use.

            Like

          5. Marc

            I do not know for sure, but I would think the lease the Stars signed was for exclusive use.

            There is probably someone who knows, but if NHL teams don’t get exclusive use of their arenas, it would be hard to believe that a junior league does.

            Like

          6. Mike

            if NHL teams don’t get exclusive use of their arenas, it would be hard to believe that a junior league does.

            I’m fairly confident that in this case they do. They signed a “sweetheart” lease that involved Stars ownership investing significant money in turning an old agriculture arena into hockey barn. The original deal was signed by the Nebraska State Fair board and inherited by the University when they acquired the old State Fair grounds.

            Like

      1. Brian

        z33k,

        I agree COVID is causing a pause, but I don’t think NIL and NCAA changes are. NIL doesn’t cost the schools anything. The NCAA changes are just hypothetical at this point. The schools aren’t going to agree to pay players unless forced by a court or the law. The players just got access to NIL money.

        As for being defensive, I think schools tend to look ahead several years and are making decisions now based on future revenue. OSU just approved building a new lacrosse-specific stadium by 2023.

        Like

        1. z33k

          Yeah I think there is money for infrastructure even right now as long as donors are able/willing to pony up.

          Even as there are budget pressures, on the other hand, donors have probably become far wealthier over the course of the pandemic given the stock market/asset gains from all of the Fed programs/government spending.

          Like

    2. @Doug – Illinois stated publicly that they would have announced a new Division I hockey program in Spring 2020, but the pandemic put that on ice (pun intended).

      Ever since then, Illinois AD Josh Whitman has been very lawyerly (like the lawyer he is) whenever he gets question on the project: it’s not dead and they’re still talking to stakeholders but the pandemic has forced a refocusing of what the priorities are in the athletic department.

      The negative side of me sees this as a project that has been talked about for so many years and it took perfect circumstances to get it off the ground… but the pandemic means that they’ll never get those perfect circumstances again. The school has been *really* slow-playing this and by the time that they were ready to pull the trigger, we had a global pandemic.

      The positive side of me sees that this project is that it isn’t contingent on a Pegula-type donation, but rather as a part of a much larger downtown Champaign project (which if you’ve been to Illinois is actually not connected to the campus like Campustown, albeit not too far). The proposed arena development is connected to a new rapid transit center for buses and Amtrak trains. (Believe it or not, the Champaign-Urbana bus system is excellent.) The money for the rapid transit center has long been allocated from federal and state government agencies, so it’s a “use it or lose it” situation there. That rapid transit center WILL be built and, as long as the arena is connected to that project, some of the government funds can be used to defray the costs. Also note that the arena isn’t solely hockey-focused, but would also include the new home court for women’s volleyball (honestly the best athletic program that Illinois has had for the past decade) and facilities for the gymnastics and wrestling programs. All of those teams would need new facilities regardless of whether Illinois has a hockey team, so if adding hockey makes raising the donations and funds for those facilities easier and more efficient by being a part of a multi-sport multi-purpose arena, then that’s a positive for adding hockey. Plus, men’s hockey can be a legitimate revenue sport in the Big Ten – I’ve seen the figures where Penn State actually receives more hockey revenue than basketball revenue at this point. This isn’t a sport that is a pure cost center – it can largely fund itself and, in the best case, actually turn a profit (which doesn’t happen in the Big Ten for any sport other than football and men’s basketball).

      My gut feeling is that it’s about 70/30 in favor of Illinois moving forward with adding Division I hockey – the downtown Champaign project is going to proceed in some form and the fact that other sports are dependent upon the new hockey program to get their own new facilities that they would be walking away from a LOT if they kill the idea. So, I’m still optimistic overall, but this pandemic changed so much about higher education finance (which is why I simply cannot fathom any FBS conferences not expanding the CFP ASAP even if it means extending exclusivity with ESPN) that this dream could alternatively and unfortunately die a premature death.

      Like

  17. Brian

    https://theathletic.com/news/big-ten-pac-12-acc-alliance-expected-to-be-formally-announced-soon-sources/qQ7aaP9CvLAD

    An announcement of the form of the P3 alliance is expected soon, maybe next week.

    It’s not yet clear how specific the announcement will be because there are so many details to iron out, although administrators in all three leagues have stressed in recent conversations that issues of governance can and should be front and center.

    Schools within the three conferences believe they are like-minded, that they want to continue to prioritize broad-based sports offerings and that the academic profile of their institutions matters — as does graduating athletes. For example, Big Ten schools sponsor an average of 24.8 sports per campus, with the ACC (23.8) and Pac-12 (22.9) not far behind. SEC schools offer an average of 19.9 sports.

    The rest is behind a paywall.

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    1. Brian

      https://www.espn.com/college-football/story/_/id/32056225/sources-acc-big-ten-pac-12-announce-alliance

      Here’s a free article about it.

      “Is that about philosophy, governance, scheduling?” one athletic director asked. “It could be all of those things.”

      After Texas and Oklahoma announced their intentions to move to the SEC last month, the Big Ten, ACC and Pac-12 each began exploring options for a countermove. That led to an “alliance committee” that includes several athletic directors from each league, along with the three commissioners, to determine whether an alliance would be an optimal path forward. Members of those subcommittees are expected to hold a phone call in the coming days to determine the specific language of a formal announcement, according to multiple administrators with direct knowledge of the talks.

      The scope of the alliance remains uncertain, according to one AD. While initial conversations involved all sports, recent discussions have focused solely on football and men’s and women’s basketball. Creating a nonconference scheduling partnership could also create lucrative TV opportunities, but there may not be agreement among all schools on how best to execute that — even within the same conferences. Currently, the ACC plays eight league games, while the Big Ten and Pac-12 each play nine. Several ACC schools have annual rivalries against SEC schools, too. As one ACC athletic director said, “no one is tearing up future scheduling contracts yet.”

      The alliance also serves as an opportunity for Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren, who’s been on the job less than two years, and the ACC’s Jim Phillips and Pac-12’s George Kliavkoff, both hired this spring, to siphon some political clout away from the well-established SEC.

      Like

  18. Kevin

    I know Frank feels that it would be terrible to delay the playoff expansion but we are only talking about 2-3 years. The earliest they could have started was 2023 or 3 years ahead of the natural expiration. I don’t think an additional 3 years is terrible by any means. Is the 4 team playoff a bit boring? Yes, but not the worst thing ever. It is much more important to get any expanded format right and one that is fairly equitable for all parties including the betterment of the sport.

    If it is so important to the SEC to expand they could certainly lobby ESPN to give up its exclusivity. The good thing for the other conferences is that the SEC has already shown its cards with its desire for a 12 team playoff. It gives the other leagues leverage for future negotiations because it essentially takes the number of total teams off the table.

    Like

    1. Marc

      I know Frank feels that it would be terrible to delay the playoff expansion…

      I don’t think Frank is arguing from his perspective as a fan who’d like to see more games. He is arguing that the decision-makers probably won’t wait five years if they could be making more money sooner. This history of college sports is that when there’s money on the table, it usually doesn’t sit there for very long.

      The good thing for the other conferences is that the SEC has already shown its cards with its desire for a 12 team playoff.

      This is incorrect. A committee with senior reps from every FBS conference, plus Notre Dame, signed off on the format. So yes…the SEC wants this, but everybody does, at least in the broad outlines. The reps who voted yes didn’t do it in a vacuum.

      Now that the proposal is out, there are some objections—which was sure to happen. No change in college sports ever gets immediate and unanimous agreement. There would have been objections regardless of the SEC’s actions.

      Granted, the SEC announcement has raised additional concerns that weren’t there before. But I’m hearing almost no fundamental objection from the conferences that the playoff ought to expand. It is a matter of the details.

      Details do matter, but there’s no reason necessarily why it ought to take 2–3 years to work those out. It could take that long, but it doesn’t have to.

      Like

      1. Kevin

        Marc – From a fan perspective giving ESPN the exclusive opportunity to bid for the full playoff only accelerates the timeline by a max of 3 years. The earliest things could have been adopted is 2023. 3 years! That’s not a long time. The Pac 12 and B1G do not want to kneecap themselves if Fox (or others) were to lose max interest in their upcoming media rights if they are excluded from the postseason picture. Bigger picture it makes a ton of sense to pump the breaks for what is only a 3 year delay to expansion.

        Like

        1. Kevin

          The commissioners were not involved. The Pac 12 commissioner is on record saying that the delay of the playoff expansion is inevitable.

          It was no secret that the B1G and Pac 12 favored and pushed for expansion but with the SEC on board with the 12 team format they removed the notion that they would oppose expansion. The other leagues now have leverage with the details of the 12 team format including bowls and possible conference caps.

          Like

      2. @Marc – Right – I’ll fully admit that I’d personally like to see the CFP expand ASAP as pure sports fan, but that’s not where I’m coming from when I argue that expansion will ultimately come sooner than later. Instead, it’s about what I’ve seen about schools’ financial pictures in the wake of this pandemic – many of them simply don’t have 5 years to wait or hope for a higher bid from Fox. Maybe waiting until the end of the contract to see if the CFP could get an NFL-style split of playoff rights between ESPN and Fox and/or some other network would be the best approach in normal times, but these simply aren’t normal times. Remember that even the SEC made a significant advance payment to its members against future conference earnings in order to keep athletic department budgets afloat and all of the other leagues took a significant reduction in TV rights fees for the 2020 season due to fewer games. They’re all hurting (even some well-known schools that you’d never think would be hurting – we’re not just talking about G5 schools here).

        Like

        1. Brian

          Frank,

          You and the accountants at these school blow this out of proportion. We all know the schools can make the numbers say whatever they want. Schools were claiming they might lose billions, but most taught classes virtually for the significant tuition. They threw out athletic losses like they would have zero income all year, but we know that didn’t happen either. OSU’s AD predicted losing over $100M initially, but ended up revising that to less than $50M.

          Schools made cuts. Schools and employees lost money. Athletic departments lost money. That’s all true. But large state schools and rich private schools aren’t about to go out of business, either. State schools have access to funds directly through the state or via bonds. There are also huge endowments out there for schools to pull from. The schools also reaped huge returns on their investments as the stock market went gangbusters during the pandemic.

          Schools all cry poverty but the big ones will survive just fine and they know it.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. @Brian – Yes, the big schools will survive, but that’s not the goal. It’s about getting back to full health ASAP (and in quite a few cases, see an opportunity to take even more market share from schools that did even worse during the pandemic).

            I’m just telling you: it is REALLY hard for me to see them just leaving what’s considered to be a near-instant cash infusion from an expanded CFP until the end of the current contract. Maybe there will be a compromise where there’s say, an extension with ESPN until 2027 (giving them 5 years with the new playoff system) and then it contract goes to market at that point. Once that 12-team proposal was released publicly, though, I maintain that there’s no putting the genie back in the bottle where the current system continues as-is until 2025. If/when the Pac-12 champ gets left out of the top 4 again (maybe even because 2 SEC teams made the CFP like in 2018), these leagues simply aren’t going to stand against it. Fans rightfully complain about colleges doing things for money (such as conference realignment), but then when there’s something that the fans overwhelmingly support (playoff expansion) that will also make a lot more money, I don’t seem them passing it up.

            I completely agree with you that the parties need to work the details, although I don’t believe it’s about the number of teams (12 vs. 8). 12 teams along with the overall bracket seems to be the one thing that the leagues agree upon. In contrast, how to incorporate the Rose Bowl and/or other contract bowls, how the TV rights work, the sites for each round and how they go out for bid, et. al – those all still need to be agreed upon as you’ve stated well. I just don’t want people to miss that the overall *structure* (a 12-team playoff with the top 6 conference champs and 6 at-larges) isn’t really what’s causing heartburn among the leagues. It’s really those details at the margins as opposed to the CFP proposal at the core (if that makes sense).

            Like

          2. Brian

            Frank,

            “Yes, the big schools will survive, but that’s not the goal. It’s about getting back to full health ASAP”

            They might have a point if the economy had crashed, but it didn’t. They lost lots of tuition and athletics money, but they made huge gains on their investments. I believe OSU’s interim financial statement said they were actually up a huge amount financially from last year because of the investments.

            “(and in quite a few cases, see an opportunity to take even more market share from schools that did even worse during the pandemic).”

            I don’t see how they gain market share by expanding the CFP. The P5 already dominate and that won’t change.

            “I’m just telling you: it is REALLY hard for me to see them just leaving what’s considered to be a near-instant cash infusion from an expanded CFP until the end of the current contract.”

            Not for me. The B10 should be more focused on their TV negotiations now, and the P12 right behind them. On top of that they have the ramifications from all the major change in college sports recently to figure out. Now they have this whole P3 alliance to work out as well. This is exactly the wrong time to rush for a CFP money grab.

            “Maybe there will be a compromise where there’s say, an extension with ESPN until 2027 (giving them 5 years with the new playoff system) and then it contract goes to market at that point.”

            Maybe, but it seems unlikely ESPN would accept such a short deal. More importantly, that would give ESPN time to destroy everyone else and consolidate power with the SEC. Why give them that chance? You can’t know how they are going to act after this UT and OU move, so why not see what they do with the B10, B12 and P12 rights before deciding how much they can be trusted?

            “Once that 12-team proposal was released publicly, though, I maintain that there’s no putting the genie back in the bottle where the current system continues as-is until 2025.”

            Nope. This argument carriers no weight with me. What are the fans going to do, not watch?

            “I completely agree with you that the parties need to work the details, although I don’t believe it’s about the number of teams (12 vs. 8). 12 teams along with the overall bracket seems to be the one thing that the leagues agree upon.”

            They agreed when UT and OU were in the B12 and that’s where people thought they would be (it may be naive and mentally lazy, but I bet if you polled the CFP committee members they all would admit that if they had to tell the truth). I’m not convinced anyone sat down and thought through whether the system would still make sense if any P5 conference fell apart, let alone the SEC knee-capping the B12 with ESPN’s help.

            “I just don’t want people to miss that the overall *structure* (a 12-team playoff with the top 6 conference champs and 6 at-larges) isn’t really what’s causing heartburn among the leagues.”

            It wasn’t when there were 5 power conferences likely to take 5 of the 6 champ slots and the at-larges looked to be more evenly distributed. UT and OU changed the underlying assumptions upon which this model was built and approved. Now everyone needs to take time to reconsider the landscape and what if future changes happen? Is this the plan they want to be stuck with? And a lot of the so-called details tie into the basic structure of the model – 12 teams vs 8 depends partially on how the money is allocated, for example.

            Like

          3. ccrider55

            Frank,

            “ Yes, the big schools will survive, but that’s not the goal.”

            Isn’t it? Playoff expansion parallel to the probable permanent diminution of a power cone and certainly most of its members looong term would argue otherwise.

            Like

      3. Brian

        Marc,

        “I don’t think Frank is arguing from his perspective as a fan who’d like to see more games. He is arguing that the decision-makers probably won’t wait five years if they could be making more money sooner. This history of college sports is that when there’s money on the table, it usually doesn’t sit there for very long.”

        Huh? How long did CFB avoid adding a playoff? How long did they avoid expanding beyond 2 teams? How long has ND left money on the table to stay independent? CFB leaves money on the table all the time, so waiting 3 years for a better deal is peanuts.

        “A committee with senior reps from every FBS conference, plus Notre Dame, signed off on the format. So yes…the SEC wants this, but everybody does, at least in the broad outlines. The reps who voted yes didn’t do it in a vacuum.”

        They were given a quick presentation on 63 models, told which one the subcommittee (ND, B12, SEC) was recommending, and then asked to vote almost immediately. There was no deep thought or independent investigation. Besides, the approval was to go ahead and gather more feedback from other stakeholders. They weren’t voting for implementation of it.

        And with UT and OU in the SEC, votes might be different as there is no longer a 5th power conference. Maybe they can go to 8 instead which makes for simpler logistics as they don’t have to fit in a 4th round. Do 4 champs and 4 at-large or 5 champs (to increase G5 odds) and 3 at-large. Top 4 seeds go to champs.

        “Granted, the SEC announcement has raised additional concerns that weren’t there before. But I’m hearing almost no fundamental objection from the conferences that the playoff ought to expand. It is a matter of the details.”

        8 vs 12 isn’t a detail. When and where to play games isn’t a detail. The money distribution model isn’t a detail.

        “Details do matter, but there’s no reason necessarily why it ought to take 2–3 years to work those out. It could take that long, but it doesn’t have to.”

        No, but doing it right could take a year. And by then, you’re so close to the end of the contract that it would be silly not to go to the open market.

        Like

        1. Jersey Bernie

          My guess is that at this point, many do not care what the subcommittee recommended. When one of the members was affirmatively hiding an upcoming major change in the facts and circumstances (UT and OU), the entire analysis was discredited. In retrospect the subcommittee was a total waste of time.

          It is now clear that Sankey and ESPN were making plans to maximize SEC teams in the playoff (while hiding a material change). I am sure that they expected to go forward with an absolute minimum of four SEC teams every year, with a plan for a fifth.

          If OU loses, e.g., to Bama, Georgia, Florida and LSU, why should that be viewed as four losses? They are all really good teams and any 10-2 PAC team certainly would have lost at least four with the OU schedule. ESPN would back that up to the hilt. The number 5 SEC team is certainly more worthy than the number 2 or 3 PAC or ACC team. Right?

          I think that this scheme (my word) was upset when this became public knowledge prematurely (for the SEC).

          My belief is that the SEC plan was to reach a final agreement and only then bring UT and OU onboard. If others involved in the negotiations feel the same way as I do, then there is a total lack of trust regarding both Sankey and the SEC (and perhaps ESPN).

          An agreement could be finalized under the presumption that the SEC cares only about its own power and status, with absolutely no regard to others. While every conference has to look out for itself, generally they also need to understand that the other leagues must also survive. The SEC had every right to gut the Big 12, but do it openly and cleanly.

          Better to do the agreement properly rather than rush it and regret it for decades.

          Like

          1. Brian

            Exactly. They are idiots if they trust ESPN or the SEC at this point. They need to carefully think through how various plans would work both with the known moves coming and with any possible future moves. With ESPN and the SEC clearly making a play for domination, everyone else needs to go into survival mode. Anything they can do to reduce the SEC’s advantage should be done. That includes capping the teams per conference in a playoff.

            Like

        2. Marc

          Huh? How long did CFB avoid adding a playoff? How long did they avoid expanding beyond 2 teams? How long has ND left money on the table to stay independent? CFB leaves money on the table all the time, so waiting 3 years for a better deal is peanuts.

          As I recall, the Big Ten and Pac-12 long opposed a playoff because they thought they’d lose money if the Rose Bowl was undermined. It appears they got that wrong, but for a long time they sincerely believed it. Other parties not tied to the Rose Bowl were ready to do it sooner. Notre Dame leaves broadcasting money on the table because they fear alienating their donors.

          There’s no rule that parties evaluating their financial interest will do so accurately. But once a party has deduced where the money is — whether accurately or not — that is what they will ultimately follow.

          …the approval was to go ahead and gather more feedback from other stakeholders. They weren’t voting for implementation of it.

          I agree—and I doubt they truly expected the rest of the college football world to rubber stamp it. The proposal was going to change, even if the SEC had not acted as it did.

          But I think they knew that once you put the number 12 out there, it’s hard to walk back. Not impossible, but hard. Other details could more easily change without changing the thrust of the proposal as most people understand it. Most fans aren’t going to consider it a substantive change if the number of teams per conference is capped, or if quarterfinals are moved to domes, or anything like that.

          8 vs 12 isn’t a detail. When and where to play games isn’t a detail. The money distribution model isn’t a detail.

          I will happily accept whatever word you suggest to substitute. Those were indeed the details I meant.

          Like

          1. Brian

            I don’t see 12 as hard to walk back at this stage. They haven’t agreed to it yet, they just agreed to study it more. They’ll be fine as long as they give a reason. The SEC destroying the B12 is a pretty good one. The presidents pushing back because of the various academic calendars would be another good one.

            To me those are all core aspects of the plan, just like 12 teams, 6 champs, 4 byes for champs, etc. are. If the money distribution is wrong, it can change whether people approve 8 or 12 teams. If they can’t agree on sites and times to play the games, there can’t be expansion. It’s all part of the core package.

            Like

          2. @Brian – I have to disagree that it wouldn’t be hard to walk back. We have to consider the context of how that 12-team proposal was presented. It wasn’t a news report or speculation: it was a full-on official press release *directly* from the CFP office. Like I’ve said elsewhere, it’s an overwhelmingly popular proposal – any critiques of the proposal appear way more often in niche places like this blog than in “real life”.

            This means that if the 12-team playoff proposal doesn’t pass, then the conference commissioners themselves are going to get *blamed* and they know it. And frankly, it’s not going to be the SEC that’s going to get blamed since they can fall back on them being one of the leagues that introduced the proposal in the first place. Instead, the blame is going to be the new Alliance getting in the way or the and/Big Ten/Pac-12/Rose Bowl triumvirate “clinging to tradition at the expense of the rest of college football” – it might not be fair blame, but we should be reasonably seeing this come down the pike.

            Right now, it’s all a theoretical exercise from the Alliance about making sure that ESPN and the SEC don’t amass too much power, which is fine. They can make all the public statements over the next few weeks that they want about being a counterweight to the ESPN/SEC side of the ledger.

            However, when the conference commissioners meet next month and they actually have to stand up and put in an actual vote (which will assuredly be made public somehow), are they actually going to vote against it? The SEC created this system, so they’re voting for it. The Big 12 also created this system and they frankly need it even more than they did before the UT/OU defections, so they’re voting for it. Notre Dame similarly created this system, so they’re voting for it. The G5 conferences are getting more access than they even thought they would from the beginning, so they’re voting for it. This only leaves the Big Ten, Pac-12 and ACC (the Alliance).

            As a result, if this fails to pass, then it won’t be a story of the Alliance standing up to the big bad SEC/ESPN power center, but rather that the Alliance went against *everyone* else in college football and killed a playoff proposal that is insanely popular. Many of us are Big Ten partisans here, so we can look at it from the Big Ten POV, but I can assure you that the Alliance commissioners will be more hated than Greg Sankey ever could be if they’re the ones that kill the expanded playoff. (Maybe those Alliance commissioners truly don’t care, but they’re still human beings and a huge part of their jobs is managing PR.)

            Look – if the Alliance commissioners truly don’t believe that the playoff is a good thing for their respective leagues financially, then they have to vote against it. However, if they’re voting against it on the principle that they’re united in a perceived front against SEC/ESPN, then I just don’t think that’s going to fly with the general public. That official CFP press release completely changes expectations since it means that the general public sees the 12-team playoff as a done deal (even though we know that it’s not a done deal in reality), which means the backlash against it not passing will be immense.

            Like

          3. Alan from Baton Rouge

            Frank – thank you. As usual, you are the voice of reason.

            With all this outrage over the evil SEC accepting OU and UT’s overtures, talk of the SEC single-handedly destroying the Big XII, and cries of how the power mad SEC is going to ruin college football, everyone knows that the ACC, Pac-12, and even the Big Ten would have accepted OU and UT as members in a heartbeat!

            Heck, the Pac and the B1G started nibbling away at the B-12 first with Colorado and Nebraska. The Pac even tried to blow the whole conference up with the Pac-16 proposal.

            Now, the most desirable schools (outside of Notre Dame) that any conference would take chose the SEC, and its all the SEC’s fault?

            Regarding the expanded playoff, as Frank has so eloquently stated many times, the proposal benefits everyone. It includes increased access for P-5 conferences left out most of the time like the Pac-12, guaranteed access for the G-5 that they have NEVER had before, increased access for teams that just missed out on making the playoffs like Penn State, and more money for everyone when athletic departments are recovering from a year with no ticket sales, and reduced TV revenue.

            For the playoffs to expand, all parties have to agree. If one party doesn’t want ESPN to extend the contract it doesn’t happen. I never thought an extension was even being considered. But if it takes a two or three year extension to get everyone more money, who cares?

            Sure, the northern first round home game issue has to be worked out. I would suggest checking with the domes in St. Louis, Minneapolis, Indianapolis, Detroit, and Syracuse for future availability, just in case.

            The whole idea of artificial limits on conferences is really silly and will most likely affect the B1G more than the SEC. With the SEC most likely going to a nine game schedule, adding OU & UT, and already being deeper than the B1G, SEC teams’ records will suffer in comparison to the B1G’s record inflation.

            Again, all this whining seems petty when considering that the B1G would have unanimously accepted OU & UT as members, as would have the Pac-12 and the ACC. The SEC didn’t do anything that any other conference wouldn’t have done.

            Like

          4. Brian

            Frank,

            I will agree to disagree. No sport more regularly does unpopular things and bungles PR than CFB. If managing PR is any significant part of Kevin Warren’s job, he’d be fired already. Jim Delany was hated from coast to coast and did fine. The B10 was happy to take the blame for delaying the BCS and they’d be happy to stand up for what they consider important now, too.

            “However, when the conference commissioners meet next month and they actually have to stand up and put in an actual vote (which will assuredly be made public somehow), are they actually going to vote against it?”

            Hopefully, because the playoff is horrible and should go away. But I think the most likely next step is tabling the proposal because “the schools were too focused on the pandemic to give this the time it deserves.”

            “The Big 12 also created this system and they frankly need it even more than they did before the UT/OU defections, so they’re voting for it.”

            They are the most likely to want a cap on teams from one conference. They won’t vote for anything that removes that possibility at this stage. They might vote for the generic concept, but that cap is part of their leverage in their legal/financial battle with ESPN/UT/OU.

            “Notre Dame similarly created this system, so they’re voting for it.”

            Maybe, but the UT and OU move make sit harder for them to get one of the at-large slots. They might want that cap, too. It can’t hurt them to have a cap but it can help.

            “The G5 conferences are getting more access than they even thought they would from the beginning, so they’re voting for it.”

            Probably, because the UT/OU move reduces their competition for the top 6 champs. But maybe they also want a cap to have a shot at an at-large.

            “As a result, if this fails to pass, then it won’t be a story of the Alliance standing up to the big bad SEC/ESPN power center, but rather that the Alliance went against *everyone* else in college football and killed a playoff proposal that is insanely popular.”

            So what? Be an adult and do the right thing for the millions you get paid as a commissioner.

            “Look – if the Alliance commissioners truly don’t believe that the playoff is a good thing for their respective leagues financially, then they have to vote against it.”

            Immediate expansion based solely on the plan strictly as proposed is in fact bad for everyone but ESPN and maybe the SEC. It doesn’t get any plainer than that.

            “That official CFP press release completely changes expectations since it means that the general public sees the 12-team playoff as a done deal (even though we know that it’s not a done deal in reality), which means the backlash against it not passing will be immense.”

            I think you greatly overestimate the general public’s attention to this, especially mid-pandemic and with football season coming up. As soon as a different announcement was made, most casual fans would just nod their heads and go about their day. They might say “I thought they were going to expand to 12, not 8” but they wouldn’t be up in arms. Only CFB fans might get upset, and we all know that CFB fans are the least important people in all of this. We always are.

            Like

          5. ccrider55

            Frank,

            “ That official CFP press release completely changes expectations since it means that the general public sees the 12-team playoff as a done deal (even though we know that it’s not a done deal in reality), which means the backlash against it not passing will be immense.”

            Official policy is now set by public expectations now?
            Ok. Bring on pay for play, unlimited mid season transfer eligibility, get rid of all non revenue sports (and T9)

            Why did they choose to make that announcement public? What was the need to get the thing “done” and public by June of this year? Couldn’t have been “if we can get it started it will be difficult to stop” could it?

            I’m with Brian on this. I don’t believe the solution to an unusual disruption is to seed organizational control of college sports to a media partner primarily concerned with putting on entertainment.

            But what do I know. I’m the guy who still thinks the Pac keeping 100% ownership of the conf network was a good move and shouldn’t be judged in less than three media rights cycles. I also owned some stock of a new company selling and delivering books in the nineties, and sold doubling my money.🙄 Not sure I’d take my own advice.

            Like

          6. Brian

            Alan,

            People aren’t upset about the SEC taking OU and UT per se, it’s how and when it happened. The SEC creates a CFP expansion proposal and then just as it is getting approval it gets leaked that “oh, by the way” the SEC is taking the 2 most valuable schools in the B12 which has a dramatic impact on how the expanded CFP might look and who might profit the most from it. And both sides claim they will wait until 2025 although nobody believes it. Was ESPN involved? They get an early CFP expansion (which will make them a lot of money) which by contract only they can bid on (which will save them a lot of money) and it happens just as their most valuable (and exclusive) CFB property is now set up to become more valuable (which will make them a lot of money), and that value is further incentive for ESPN to slant all CFB coverage towards promoting their property (which will make them a lot of money).

            The P12 and B10 expanded openly and didn’t try to sneak through a major change in the structure of CFB just before word got out so they could benefit exponentially from the structural change. It was akin to insider trading. And this major power move happens just as the NCAA is stepping back from running college sports and potentially letting the conferences have more say.

            Yes, I can’t see any reason why people might be upset at that.

            “Regarding the expanded playoff, as Frank has so eloquently stated many times, the proposal benefits everyone.”

            Parts of the proposal benefit everyone, but key parts were designed to benefit the SEC (especially
            after adding UT and OU) more than anyone else. And that’s why the tried to hide their expansion until after they pushed this plan through.

            “For the playoffs to expand, all parties have to agree. If one party doesn’t want ESPN to extend the contract it doesn’t happen. I never thought an extension was even being considered.”

            ESPN is going to renegotiate a bunch of contracts to get a 3-4 year deal? They’d practically start the next round of negotiations right away. Besides, once their foot is in the door with all the CFP coverage, they can diminish the value of competition to the point it won’t recover even if the next deal comes up for bid. It’s bad enough they just bought half of Fox, the only real competitor they face in CFB.

            “But if it takes a two or three year extension to get everyone more money, who cares?”

            People who don’t want ESPN to have a stranglehold on CFB, especially when they are in bed with the SEC.

            “Sure, the northern first round home game issue has to be worked out.”

            Lots of issues need to be worked out.

            “The whole idea of artificial limits on conferences is really silly and will most likely affect the B1G more than the SEC.”

            So silly that actual people in power are considering it, not just fans. And no, it is much more likely to impact the expanded SEC and their collection of power programs

            “With the SEC most likely going to a nine game schedule, adding OU & UT, and already being deeper than the B1G, SEC teams’ records will suffer in comparison to the B1G’s record inflation.”

            Since when have conference losses every hurt an SEC team in the committee rankings? They just bump up the winner. And there has been zero official notice of going to 9 games. They’ve been happy to rarely play each other for decades.

            “The SEC didn’t do anything that any other conference wouldn’t have done.”

            Conveniently the ACC, B10 and P12 were the power conferences left out of the subcommittee that came up with the CFP expansion plan. They all would’ve accepted OU and UT, but they wouldn’t have been able to try to sneak past a fundamental shift in the postseason that would greatly benefit from adding those 2.

            Like

          7. Marc

            People aren’t upset about the SEC taking OU and UT per se, it’s how and when it happened.

            A lot of people are upset at the SEC per se. I think Alan is right: the Big Ten is in high dudgeon, even though they most likely would have made the same deal if it were offered. And if Kevin Warren were in industry meetings while they were negotiating secretly, he would not have spilled the beans either.

            I’ve said before, the most amazing thing is not that the SEC took UT and OU, but that the Bowlsby was surprised by this. It shows how terrible a commissioner he was.

            The SEC creates a CFP expansion proposal and then just as it is getting approval it gets leaked that “oh, by the way” the SEC is taking the 2 most valuable schools in the B12 which has a dramatic impact on how the expanded CFP might look and who might profit the most from it.

            This is revisionist history. The push to expand the playoff was coming primarily from those who’ve most often been excluded in the current four-team format—everyone but the SEC. The SEC commissioner was just one of four on the committee. How did this suddenly become “an SEC proposal”?

            Like

          8. ccrider55

            Alan,

            I don’t begrudge the sec accepting OU/UT, i am concerned that espn played, and is still playing a significant part in more than just providing information used in the decision to move. Offering to accept a long extension of their rights to the “playoff,” that just happened to also greatly benefit their primary conference FB broadcast partner, just before that conference accepted two of the three remaining potential kings? Quite the coincidence. As to how this playoff plan will benefit the lessers of college athletics, it’s like by filling the kings table even fuller there will be much more significant crumbs falling off the edge. Not only that, but the size of the table will in all probability shrink as it did with the BEast demise.

            Remember, they are an Entertainment first, through sports programming network, owing allegiance to their shareholders. They are not a college athletics governing body.

            Like

          9. Marc

            I don’t begrudge the sec accepting OU/UT, i am concerned that espn played, and is still playing a significant part in more than just providing information used in the decision to move.

            I am pretty sure that every alignment or scheduling decision in the last 25 years has been in concert with a TV partner. You’d have to be pretty dumb to make such a move — or even consider it — without asking the broadcaster what it is worth.

            ESPN happens to be the broadcasting partner for the playoff, and has been since long before the SEC knew it could get UT and OU. ESPN’s exclusivity window is a provision that all of the key parties agreed to, including the Big Ten.

            We need to keep reminding ourselves…the potential that Texas and Oklahoma would consider leaving the Big 12 was signaled in bright lights a decade ago. While the exact timing is a bit earlier than most folks expected, the fact itself is not.

            Like

          10. Brian

            Marc,

            I said: People aren’t upset about the SEC taking OU and UT per se, it’s how and when it happened.

            “A lot of people are upset at the SEC per se.”

            Good for them. But that is not what I said, as the quote clearly shows. If they are upset with them just for accepting UT and OU in general, then they’re wrong. There are lots of other valid reasons to be mad at them, though.

            “This is revisionist history.”

            No, it isn’t.

            “The push to expand the playoff was coming primarily from those who’ve most often been excluded in the current four-team format”

            I’d say it was from the fans primarily, then the G5 and P12.

            “everyone but the SEC.”

            I don’t recall the B10 pushing for it much.

            “The SEC commissioner was just one of four on the committee. How did this suddenly become “an SEC proposal”?”

            Sankey, Bowlsby, Swarbrick and the MWC’s Thompson created the proposal, which means the SEC approved every aspect of it. Sankey essentially had veto power in the room, so it became an SEC-approved proposal before the ACC/B10/P12 ever saw it.

            Would Bowlsby have made the same recommendations if he knew UT and OU were already leaving? What about Swarbrick? WOuld the rest of the CFP committee have been a rubber stamp if they knew UT and OU were in the SEC already?

            Like

          11. Brian

            Marc,

            You quoted him but apparently didn’t read the quote.

            I don’t begrudge the sec accepting OU/UT, i am concerned that espn played, and is still playing a significant part in more than just providing information used in the decision to move.

            “I am pretty sure that every alignment or scheduling decision in the last 25 years has been in concert with a TV partner. You’d have to be pretty dumb to make such a move — or even consider it — without asking the broadcaster what it is worth.”

            He didn’t say ESPN shouldn’t talk to them and provide that sort of information. It’s going beyond that, providing a distraction for a move that greatly helps their business and one conference at the expense of other conferences they have business relationships with and in a sport which they claim to cover neutrally (outside of game rights).

            “ESPN happens to be the broadcasting partner for the playoff, and has been since long before the SEC knew it could get UT and OU. ESPN’s exclusivity window is a provision that all of the key parties agreed to, including the Big Ten.”

            And it’s convenient they tried to push through CFP expansion before anyone found out about SEC expansion, and also before anyone else can bid on the contract.

            Like

  19. Bob

    One topic that I haven’t seen much discussion of since the UT/OU to SEC announcement is the impact to divisional alignments and CCGs. What will the SEC do (8 or 9 conference games, divisions, pods, locked rivalry games, etc.)? Will the NCAA rules for CCGs be changed? If so, will anyone (e.g., B1G) eliminate divisions? Will the proposed B1G/ACC/P12 alliance impact on number of conference games played and/or how conference champs are determined? Will any of this impact how the “Alliance” votes on playoff expansion (8 vs. 12 games, auto-bid for conference champs)?

    Like

    1. Marc

      Most of the media are reporting that the SEC will go to 9 games.

      I am pretty sure the NCAA will de-regulate the conference championship games eventually. Other leagues (for different reasons) would like the freedom to do so, and the current system (with its Big 12-only exception) has no reason to exist.

      I am skeptical that the Big Ten will go down to 8 games, so that they can play more games against the Pac-12/ACC. Conference games produce revenue they don’t have to share. The games they gain would need to be worth more than the games they give up.

      I do think they will ultimately approve 12 games, probably with a cap on the number of teams per conference.

      The issue of auto-bids for conference champs is largely meaningless. The proposal was that the top six FBS conference champs get a bid. It would take a rare event for one of the Power Four champs not to be among the top six. (That would’ve happened last year, but without a full schedule, and there were five power conferences at the time.)

      Like

      1. Brian

        I see people assuming 9, but nothing official. And the SEC probably won’t say anything publicly about that or divisions/pods/whatever until UT and OU iron out any discussions with the B12. Only once they know for sure when the schools will arrive will they finalize the decisions.

        I’m not saying they haven’t already discussed it informally, and probably already have a plan. Just that it isn’t official yet and they won’t say it publicly yet.

        Like

  20. Brian

    https://www.espn.com/college-football/story/_/id/32055847/breaking-acc-big-ten-pac-12-alliance-comes-next

    A lot more on the alliance.

    The rationale is two-pronged, and would address both practical areas such as scheduling and larger, philosophical ones. Sources in the three leagues view an alliance as an alternative to expansion. They would work together rather than potentially hurt one another by poaching members.

    “All this banter and talk about the new NCAA structure and governance, having 41 institutions that have similar values would be really important,” a veteran athletic director in one of the leagues said.

    Added a source familiar with the alliance talks: “It allows for the focusing of points of view to the end that there may be more effectiveness for the 41, to the extent that they share a vision of what college sports should be.”

    “Structure among similarly situated institutions makes some sense where the NCAA is shaky and where the SEC’s been aggressive,” one source said. “This is a pretty sensible way of proceeding. What’s the downside?”

    At this point, numerous sources have said there is no financial component to the alliance, but the political portion is important.

    It’s also unclear what the SEC’s response to an alignment by the other leagues might be. If the end game is the creation of super conferences that include 24 or more teams each, this type of alliance could push the SEC to make even more moves toward that outcome. And as one AD said, even within his own league, it’s unlikely there will be uniform agreement on all issues, and leagues should “be prepared for a lot more 8-6 votes.” So if this alliance drives a wedge between, say, Ohio State and the rest of the Big Ten, or Clemson and the rest of the ACC, does that set the stage for the SEC to make another big move?

    While a few more games likely will be added between the leagues, dramatic changes are unlikely, and existing matchups against the SEC (Clemson-South Carolina, Florida State-Florida, Georgia Tech-Georgia, Louisville-Kentucky) and even the Big 12 (Iowa-Iowa State) are unlikely to change. “It’s not a boycott,” one administrator said.

    The most immediate issue to be addressed, however, is the expansion of the College Football Playoff, with the 12-team plan designed in large part by Sankey and Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick up for a vote in September. Nearly every source ESPN spoke with on the issues said there is now significant trepidation about moving forward and that, while the plan could ultimately still pass, there’s a desire to “tap the brakes” and better understand how the plan would impact leagues in the aftermath of Oklahoma and Texas joining the SEC.

    “You go back to all the great reasons that folks talked about why eight didn’t work, why 10 didn’t work and all these other things, you’ve really got to relook at it and say, ‘All right, well, we’re just gonna let this settle down a little bit, see where we are, and maybe come back and look at it in 12 months,'” one veteran AD in one of the conferences said.

    The three leagues also could coalesce around creating an open bidding process for an expanded playoff, which could be divided between multiple media partners, similar to playoffs in professional leagues.

    Perhaps the bigger question facing the alliance, however, is one of philosophy. According to multiple administrators directly involved in conversations, the advent of new name, image and likeness rules and the emphatic Supreme Court ruling in the Alston case have many schools concerned about the future of athlete compensation. As one AD noted, the SEC seems to have made its plans for the future known by adding Texas and Oklahoma in “a money grab,” and the immediate conversations among alliance members will hinge on questions of whether there’s another way forward that holds truer to the historic view of amateurism — both in the short and long term.

    The Big 12 remains in purgatory. As one source noted, the remaining teams in the league clearly align better with the SEC philosophically, but because of the now-fractured relationship between Oklahoma, Texas and the remaining eight schools, as well as the relatively limited revenue potential of those schools, there’s little incentive for the SEC to extend an olive branch. Right now, the alliance is about philosophy, and the reality is that the ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12, which prioritize academic profile and an expansive set of Olympic sports, don’t overlap much with universities like West Virginia and TCU.

    “The connective tissue was between the Big 12 and the SEC,” a veteran administrator said. “They’re the ones that play in the Sugar Bowl. But the relationship between the SEC and the Big 12 must be strained.”

    In the most immediate sense, however, the Big 12 is being left out of the conversation because of its role in planning the 12-team playoff expansion, according to one AD. Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby worked with Sankey, Swarbrick and others on the proposal, but the Big Ten, ACC and Pac-12 did not have representatives in the room. Given that playoff expansion is Issue No. 1 on the docket, there’s a sense that Bowlsby already had his say.

    The SEC’s addition of Texas and Oklahoma is widely seen as the first step in an even bigger power play, whether it’s additional expansion or the formation of a super league. Sankey, who crafted the expanded playoff proposal, already is widely viewed as the most powerful person in college athletics. A three-league alliance could, when necessary, push back against the SEC on key topics like the expanded playoff.

    “We can’t have college football all run out of the Southeast part of the country,” an AD in one of the three leagues said.

    For one, the three leagues include virtually all of Notre Dame’s regular rivals — USC, Stanford, Michigan and its five annual ACC games — so either the alliance could pave the way for Notre Dame to keep playing all those teams as a full alliance member or it could squeeze the Irish on scheduling to a point that it becomes impossible for them to remain independent.

    The other big issue is, if the two big sources of political clout and, perhaps, playoff positioning, in college football are within an SEC and a Big Ten/Pac-12/ACC alliance, life as an independent becomes untenable. At this point, no league has enough leverage to make Notre Dame do something it doesn’t want to do, but if the alliance squeezed the Irish on playoff positioning, scheduling or TV revenue, that outlook could change.

    For now, Notre Dame is one of the strongest advocates for the proposed 12-team playoff, which Swarbrick helped craft alongside Sankey. This could set up an interesting dynamic in late September if the ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 choose to push back against the proposal.

    Like

  21. Jersey Bernie

    Comment by Nick Saban, who questions the expansion to 12 teams, since teams could wind up playing 17 games in one season. Of course considering the likelihood of Alabama making a four team playoff, Saban may not need the extra games.

    Perhaps his more important/explosive comments relate to the G5. Saban does not think that that G5 champions could compete and does not want them in the play-offs. That is an explosive position. Is this just Saban, or is this a first step by the SEC to split the P5 from the rest of college football.

    https://247sports.com/Article/Nick-Saban-questions-College-Football-Playoff-expansion-12-teams-169314594/

    “I think you’ve got to ask yourself a couple of questions about that,” Saban said. “How important is it to have bowl games in college football because the bigger the playoff gets the more bowl games are going to dissipate? How many games are really legitimate for college kids to play? How are you going to prioritize the schedule because you could potentially play 17 games if we have 12 teams in the playoff? Are you going to play less regular season games? Are you going to take out the SEC championship game and not have it? If you play 12 games and have [the SEC championship game], you could be looking at 17 games. Are you going to play games during dead week? Are you going to play games during finals week? Are you going to play games during Christmas? I think there are just a lot of questions that need to be answered; it’s not just that a 12-team playoff is a good thing.”

    When it comes to giving an automatic bid to conference champions, Saban is staunchly opposed to letting Group of Five champs into the playoff. Drawing off his own experience at the Group of Five level, Saban doubts that those smaller programs would be able to compete in the College Football Playoff.

    “I don’t like the fact that the [Group of 5] conferences want their conference champions to be in the playoff,” Saban told ESPN. “I coached at Toledo and we were conference champions. We sure as hell didn’t have any business playing Florida. That’s not the best teams. If you are going to do it, get the best teams. The other argument is are we getting the four best teams now? Is there somebody not getting in that could win? I think you could make an argument for Texas A&M [last season], but we beat them by [28] points. They had a good team

    Like

    1. Brian

      I think that’s the inherent SEC argument about reserving 6 (or any) spots for champs only. He thinks the G5 (and everyone else) should have to be top 12 to get in, and even then he won’t really believe they deserve it (and they usually don’t).

      I linked the whole long piece from ESPN.com with his interview earlier:
      https://www.espn.com/college-football/story/_/id/32039439/nick-saban-qa-college-football-playoff-expansion-nil-vaccines-more

      It’s worth reading as he touches on everything.

      Like

    2. Marc

      Let’s compare it to the basketball tournament. In the 64-team era (1985 to present), 12 seed is the lowest to reach the Elite Eight. Four 11 seeds have reached the Final Four. Three 8 seeds have won a FF game. Villanova, also an 8, was the lowest seed to win the championship.

      Football is a different sport, but those figures suggest that the G5 champs will usually get slaughtered in the first round and are highly unlikely to reach the final, but will win games occasionally. I bet they’ll put up a good fight more often than Nick Saban wants to admit. There is no good list of basketball 12 seeds who lost while making their higher-seeded opponent work for it, but we know that happens every year.

      These stats suggest that if the basketball tourney’s only function were to find a champ, they could cut it off at 32 teams without omitting anyone with a serious shot at winning it all. That’s using the word “serious” loosely, since #1 and 2 seeds (corresponding to the top eight) have won the championship more than all the other seeds put together.

      And yet, the basketball tournament admits 68 teams, even though the bottom 36 are certain losers, with the only suspense being exactly when they will lose. It’s about giving them access.

      Like

      1. Brian

        Apples and oranges.

        Playing 1 extra game is nothing in hoops. Everyone knows the lower seeds won’t win the NCAA tournament but there isn’t a downside as the first weekend brings lots of money. An extra round in CFB means an entire week and the risk of life-threatening injuries to prove that Alabama is better than Kent St.

        Also, there is more parity in hoops. You only need a handful of good players, and so many teams are young that a group of less talented seniors can win.

        Like

        1. Marc

          An extra round in CFB means an entire week and the risk of life-threatening injuries to prove that Alabama is better than Kent St.

          You are entirely correct, but if they truly cared about that, the Big Ten would still be playing 10 regular-season games, only the champ would go to a bowl, they never would have agreed to a 4-team playoff, they’d still play only 8 games in conference, and they’d still allow an FCS opponent every year. (This is to say nothing of those who ask, if the sport is so dangerous, why anybody plays it at all.)

          Almost every decision they’ve made is in the direction of more football and tougher games. Every time, they wring their hands and shake their heads about the danger. Then they do it anyway.

          Like

          1. Brian

            The point is that going from 32 to 68 is trivial for hoops. It is a much bigger deal in football, especially with the timing of the end of the semester, holidays, and start of the next semester.

            Why go to that hassle to add games that yield the predicted results almost every time?

            Like

    1. @Mike – Thanks for that link. Within that article, there’s also a link to a 1974 article that was focused on the troubles of the private schools in the Southwest Conference and how Texas was complaining that it was subsidizing the entire league:

      https://www.texasmonthly.com/arts-entertainment/the-decline-and-fall-of-the-southwest-conference/

      There were also references to skyrocketing athletic budgets and coaching salaries, competing with pro sports in major cities, how TV money has become so important (including Texas wanting more of it), concerns about the focus on athletics compared to academics, and schools losing money on athletics but believing that it gives them exposure. That article could have been written TODAY. It’s the old adage that the more things change, the more things stay the same.

      Like

      1. Another golden quote from that 1974 article: “The search for more money, not a desire to play stronger opposition, is behind the occasional talk of a Super Conference that would see Texas pulling out of the SWC to join an elite organization of the nation’s traditional football powers.”

        We even had Super Conference talk in 1974! Absolutely nothing has changed!

        Like

        1. Gary

          Frank: Thanks for that link; it came from time a bit before I started reading Texas Monthly later in the 70s as a college student (at Baylor). The other thing that has not changed in that time is the brilliant long-form journalism practiced by TM since it inception. Paul Burka was one of their best.

          Like

          1. bullet

            Yes. Good read. And a reminder that the end of the SWC was a long time coming. Its surprising it lasted as long as it did. They were also prescient on Baylor’s rise in the 70s and 80s. At the time of the article, Baylor was in an 18 year losing streak to Texas which they ended in 1974. TCU had started a 26 year losing streak and Rice a 28 year losing streak. SMU, A&M and Tech weren’t doing much better, but they usually didn’t lose by as big a margin.

            Like

  22. Jersey Bernie

    The Paralympics opening ceremony is on Monday, August 24th, at 7:00 am EDT.

    NBCUniversal will be recording 1200 hours of coverage, including events, background, etc. There will also be some prime time coverage on NBC.

    If anyone watches the opening, most will walk in, but you will see many athletes in wheelchairs. If you notice two men who are “connected” by a small tether between their arms, those are the blind athletes with their “guides”. Blind athletes compete in many track and field events, as well as swimming.

    When blind athletes run, the guides run with them, attached by a tether. American David Brown is the fastest blind runner in the world. He has done the 100 meter is 10.92 seconds, which he set at the 2015 Paralympic World Championship. Considering that Brown cannot see where he is running his record is not far off this year’s Olympic winning time of 9.80.

    In addition to running, blind athletes compete in the high jump and long jump. They have the same rules about not committing a foul by jumping past the official line. It is honestly amazing to watch those competitions. The jumpers have to count their steps to know when to jump without any visual information, though they do have the benefit of a guide yelling at them to help avoid a scratch.

    While many Olympians have amazing back stories of how they got there, pretty much all Paralympians do.

    American Tatyana McFadden is considered to be the best female wheelchair racer in history. She was born in Russia with spina bifida and paralyzed from the waist down. Her Russian mother was too poor to buy a wheelchair so she left her at an orphanage in Leningrad. For the first six years of her life, Tatyana moved around by walking on her hands in the orphanage.

    An American health department worker, Deborah McFadden, visited the orphanage and was told that Tatyana was near death at the age of 6. Deborah adopted her and took her back to the US, where she had her sickly new daughter become involved in sports. From that she became the best wheelchair racer in the world. The 2016 Olympics were a little bit of a disappointment, since Tatyana “only” won five gold medals, when she was in 7 events. As I recall she won a silver and a bronze in the other two. I do not know if she is going to Tokyo.

    At lunch in the US Paralympic trials in Charlotte in June, 2016, I randomly sat at lunch with this couple from Utah. Their son, Hunter Woodhall, was going into his senior year in high school. He was born with a congenital defect called fibular hemimelia which meant both legs were amputated below the knee when he was less than a year old.

    Rather than sit in a wheelchair, he was active in all types of sports, including soccer, high school football and track. He won a silver medal in Rio in the 200m and a bronze in the 400m. I believe he is competing in Tokyo.

    For me it almost hard to imagine the fortitude shown by the parents as well as Hunter. They were not going to let a little thing like a double amputation of his legs, when he was a baby, get in the way of life. Most 11 months old are starting to walk and he lost his legs. No problem. After the Paralympics, he got an athletic scholarship from the University of Arkansas.

    At the PanAmerican games in Toronto in 2015, we met a young man with severe mental disabilities, but he raced in the mile. Everyone just called him Mikey. His father said that running was the only thing that Mikey really understood. I do not believe that Mikey made it to Rio. I do not think that he even attended the Paralympic Trials in 2016.

    My wife and I met a man in Charlotte who was truly heart broken that he did not qualify to go to Rio, so in 2016 he moved to the US Olympic and Paralympic track training center in Chula
    Vista, CA and spent the next four years just training to get ready for Tokyo 2020, which did not happen. He is now in Tokyo and he is very open that this is the biggest thing that has ever happened in his life, and he worked very hard to get there.

    In Charlotte in 2016 for the trials, everyone pretty much stayed in the same hotel. The trials there were for track and field, swimming and bicycling. After the competitions, the announcements of who made the team to Rio were held in a park a few blocks away. It was amazing to see the stream of wheelchairs going to the park from the hotel and recognizing that none of these men and women were disabled, but they were all world class athletes.

    Like

  23. houstontexasjack

    With no invites from the B1G or PAC-12 forthcoming, and a looming downgrade in annual money on the horizon, I wonder if Kansas would consider going the UConn route and joining up with the Big East while downgauging its football program to that of an independent. The Kansas basketball brand would be a good add for the Big East and would no doubt increase the per-school payout upon negotiation of the next TV contract. Reducing expenditures on football might end up netting Kansas a higher annual amount.

    Like

    1. Jersey Bernie

      While UConn technically still has a football team, their program is almost non existent. They are losing huge amounts on football and there is a movement to drop to FCS level.

      I do not know anything about politics in Kansas, but I would kind of guess that legislators would be up in arms if Kansas effectively ended its football program.

      The other thing is that the Big East really does not pay that much money per team. It is less than $10 million per team, including March madness money.

      UConn was of course a former member of the Big East and had historic rivalries with the teams. Most of the schools are geographically very close. UConn teams almost certainly take buses to nearly half of their games. Providence is close to Storrs and Seton Hall and St. Johns are about 150 miles. They also have games in Philly and DC. Of course, there are now also five midwestern teams.

      For Kansas most games would be far away with not that much money coming in.

      https://connecticut.rivals.com/news/financial-breakdown-of-uconn-s-move-to-the-big-east

      Like

      1. houstontexasjack

        Kansas politics and the history of Kansas football would be an impediment to what would amount to an effective dismantling of the football program.

        My thinking is that a football program is very expensive to operate. Coaches salaries, equipment, facilities.…it just takes up the lion’s share of an athletic budget.

        If the Big 12 only ends up being able to command a ceiling of about $20MM per school *with* football in the next TV negotiation round, the economics might make sense if a Big East with Kansas could garner about $15MM per school (assuming football costs well north of $5MM per year to sustain at the FBS level).

        Like

      2. Marc

        UConn was in FCS until 1996. There are an example — and not the only one — of how hard it is to move up to the next level.

        Kansas is one of many perennial doormats in FBS—and not even the worst one. Still, they have always been in FBS (or its equivalent). Since the I-A/AA split in 1978, is there any program that started in I-A and dropped down? I cannot think of any. Far more common are programs attempting to do what UConn did—to move up.

        Like

        1. houstontexasjack

          @Marc – You make a fair point that it hasn’t been done by a longtime I-A program. I think Idaho moved up and then recently decided to move back down.

          Like

        2. Brian

          Idaho dropped back down in 2018. It was in the PCC (P12 pre-cursor) until 1958, so I think that counts as starting out I-A. Then it dropped when I-AA formed in 1978 before coming back up in 1996.

          Like

        3. Jersey Bernie

          Actually, UConn was doing OK in football in the Big East. When Big East football broke up what killed UConn football is that they did not find a P5 home.

          UConn offered nothing to the B1G, other than basketball and they are not in the AAU.

          When the Big East split, UConn tried very hard to claim that they were in the NY market, but Storrs is close to 150 miles from NYC and no one considers UConn of importance in the City. Even with winning national basket ball championships, no one in NY much cared. UConn actually went on a big marketing campaign stating that they were the 6th borough of NY, which went over like a lead balloon.

          St. Johns is the NYC college basketball team. Fordham (in the Bronx) actually matters in NYC and Seton Hall is about 15 miles from the City across the Hudson River. Seton Hall and RU basketball both matter a bit in NYC, but not close to St. Johns. (Madison Square Garden is now and has been for many years the home court of St. Johns).

          When the NY Times did its study of fans of college football teams in NY, I am not sure where UConn showed up, but it was certainly not in the top 5 and nowhere near RU, ND or Cuse.

          UConn is in the Hartford, CT tv market, which is not exactly a biggie.

          As far as the ACC, they had no interest for the same reasons, plus more. The ACC was already in Boston, Syracuse and Pittsburgh. They were not looking for another northeastern school.

          Then there was the issue with BC and UConn. When the Big East football conference broke up, there was tremendous bitterness among the schools. Representations were made that teams would not leave that caused UConn to invest in football. When those “promises” were broken the State of Connecticut brought a suit against BC. (Yes CT politicians cared a lot that the state university was out in the cold in major football). That suit was settled but the deal was sealed.

          It is unclear when or if the bad blood between BC and UConn ever went away. BC made it very clear that it wanted New England to itself in the ACC.

          There were rumors that BC formally black balled UConn from the ACC, but nothing was ever made public.

          Like

          1. Mike

            As far as the ACC, they had no interest for the same reasons, plus more.

            After the ACC took Louisville, they mentioned that they all assumed at the start of the process that they were going to take UConn. At the end of the day, UL’s football team won them the day.

            Like

          2. Marc

            As far as the ACC, they had no interest

            I think Mike’s comment is more accurate: they were interested, but Louisville interested them more.

            Like

          3. Marc

            Actually, UConn was doing OK in football in the Big East. When Big East football broke up what killed UConn football is that they did not find a P5 home.

            Let’s put this in perspective: their average finish in the Big East was 5th, and they joined after two of the conference’s best programs, VT and Miami, had left.

            Yes, it hurt that the Big East broke up, but every Big East team that didn’t get a Power Five invite had the same problems. UConn was probably the least equipped to deal with them.

            Like

          4. Jersey Bernie

            UConn made bowl games in 2007 to 2010. In 2011 they made it to a BCS game in the Fiesta Bowl, where they were clocked by Oklahoma. During that time, Randy Edsall was head coach, but after the Fiesta Bowl he went to Maryland.

            They also made a minor bowl in 2015.

            That is what I meant by OK.

            As far as Louisville or UConn, at the time I followed that very closely, since there was a great bit of banter and bitterness from UConn fans at Rutgers, since the UConn fans were convinced that they would get a B1G invitation. From the perspective of RU fans, it was sadly amusing. I was also following info that was floating around at FSU.

            I do not know who assumed what, but Florida State and Clemson were absolutely adamant that the next ACC school would be a football school. This was before the ACC network launch in 2019 and there were not too subtle threats from both FSU and Clemson regarding the next invited team. It did not have to be Louisville, but had to be a football school.

            Louisville was coming off a 12-1 season and top 15 ranking when they were invited. By that time the OK days of UConn football had faded.

            Here is a Hartford Current article on the situation which specifically points out that once football would be the determining factor, UConn did not have a real chance.

            https://www.courant.com/sports/uconn-football/hc-xpm-2012-12-10-hc-uconn-football-1209-20121208-story.html

            Like

    2. Little8

      Even without TX and OU the Little8 will remain a power basketball conference as good as or better than the Big East. Baylor won the NCAA tournament last year; Kansas is a blue blood; WV, ISU, OkSt, and TT have good programs. Kansas is #2 in 3rd tier TV revenue (after TX) in the B12. So Kansas is well placed for basketball in the B12, and it is not like there is anywhere to go. The problem the B12 has is that all the money is in football.

      Kansas may decide to scale back football spend, but they will not drop the sport. The increased spending on football coaches, etc. in the last few years has not resulted in more wins.

      Like

      1. Marc

        Even without TX and OU the Little8 will remain a power basketball conference as good as or better than the Big East.

        You are right, but the original Big East showed that being great at basketball isn’t enough. Football is 80–85% of the revenue.

        Like

        1. Jersey Bernie

          The original Big East broke up because it could never decide what it was.

          The interests of the football schools was very different than that of the basketball only schools.

          Like

      2. urbanleftbehind

        If its the AAC taking the B12 teams and not the B12 picking up AAC teams, can Wichita State be kicked out of the AAC if Kansas joins? They may be due for a come down post Gregg Marshall and would the MVC or even the Big East (now that UConn is there as a public U) have them?

        Like

        1. Marc

          In two seasons under Isaac Brown, Wichita State men’s basketball is still winning, including a regular-season conference championship last season. They were fourth the year before—in other words, better than almost everyone else. If they keep doing that, they don’t need to worry.

          In the unlikely event that the Pac-12 adds any B12 schools, I would bet that Kansas is one of them, so your hypothetical probably won’t happen. If the eight remaining B12 schools stay intact, then selected AAC schools will be joining them, not the other way around.

          As Frank noted a few posts ago, the idea of Kansas begging for an invite to Wichita State’s conference is too strange to be believed.

          Like

          1. I honestly think that Kansas would go independent for football and join a league like the Big East for other sports before it would be in a league with Wichita State. Granted, the remaining members of the Big 12 actually still constitute a great basketball league – even beyond Kansas, they have the current national champ (Baylor), the team that just produced the #1 pick in the NBA Draft (Oklahoma State) and another team that was in the National Championship Game two years ago (Texas Tech). Some of the more prominent backfilling options such as Cincinnati, Houston, BYU and Memphis have excellent basketball histories, as well.

            To urbanleftbehind’s question, though, I think we (fans) overrate the desire or ability for a conference to kick out a member, particularly when they haven’t done anything wrong (and when I say “wrong”, I mean actually breaking league rules or having compliance issues as opposed to poor performance or not being a great revenue generator). It has happened a handful of times, but it’s such a rare occurrence because schools simply don’t want to set a precedent of it being an easy thing to do. The oft-cited example of Temple getting kicked out of the old Big East isn’t a great one to fall back on because they were a football-only member as opposed to a full voting member, so they were in a whole different position even compared to a non-football member like Wichita State in the AAC.

            Like

    3. Mike

      I wonder if Kansas would consider going the UConn route and joining up with the Big East while downgauging its football program to that of an independent.

      In the near to medium term Kansas basketball is in a “good enough” spot. The more competent their football team is, the better shot they have of improving their conference situation. If I were running KU I would be investing heavily in KUFB.

      Like

      1. Marc

        If I were running KU I would be investing heavily in KUFB.

        The failure of KU football hasn’t been for a lack of trying. They spent big bucks on Charlie Weis and Les Miles, and struck out with both.

        In college sports, it’s exceedingly difficult to break out of your historical mold. No matter how much the perennial doormats spend, they tend to remain doormats. No matter how much the kings screw up, they tend to remain kings. Yes, there are exceptions to both, but it’s hard to do—in both directions.

        Like

        1. bullet

          They will eventually get back. They were top 10 in the final poll in 1994 and 2007. There are a lot of P5 schools who haven’t done that so recently and some who have never done that. Rutgers has been playing football since 1869 and never been top 10 in final AP poll.

          Like

          1. @bullet – I agree in the sense that a school like Kansas isn’t *hopeless* in football. There might be a ceiling on the number of teams that can be truly elite brands, but I don’t think anyone in the P5 is *hopeless* if they get the right coaching hire. Even my Illini somehow has gone to a Sugar Bowl and Rose Bowl in this century despite some truly abominable management of their football program. In any event, KU may never be a top football brand, but they certainly have the resources to be a consistent middle tier football team. That combined with their blue blood standing in basketball makes them look a whole lot better from a conference realignment standpoint.

            Like

          2. ccrider55

            “ Rutgers has been playing football since 1869 and never been top 10 in final AP poll.”

            They were ahead of the times. Top ten multiple year (I’d bet) from 1869 on. Is it their fault polling was delayed?

            Like

        2. Mike

          @Marc –

          The failure of KU football hasn’t been for a lack of trying. They spent big bucks on Charlie Weis and Les Miles, and struck out with both.

          There is a lot more to “investing in football” than just hiring a “name” coach two out of the last five hires since 2010. Investing in the entire program can show that KU is serious about football and there is a unity of purpose from the boosters and the athletic department. A short list off the top of my head:

          1. Head coach pay: Leipold is last in the Big 12. You can debate weather he is worth more or not, but the higher the salary the better the candidates. I hope he works out, but the last former Nebraska assistant who was the head coach at Buffalo (Turner Gill) didn’t work out for them.

          2. Assistant coaching pool: I didn’t find the exact numbers, but I’m guessing bottom of the Big 12 or close to it. Just like a head coach, the higher pay the better the candidates. It does appear that some signed six year contacts, but low salaries makes it easy lure the best assistants away.

          3. Football facility upgrades: KU’s last upgrade was in 2008 six head coaches ago. A 2012 ESPN article described KU’s facilities as “Nice” and “not far behind Texas Tech.” Texas Tech built new facilities in 2017, so I’m going to assume KU is again very close to the bottom of the Big 12. Note: the entire Big Ten has built (or is building) new facilities since 2006.

          4. Stadium Upgrades: KU proposed a 300 million dollar stadium upgrade two athletic directors ago. Latest article I could find on it was from five days ago and titled “What happened to the stadium renovations.” KU’s stadium ranks last in the Big 12.

          5. Recruiting budget: Kansas under Miles was third in the Big 12. That’s probably close to where it should be. I don’t know if that’s changed under Leipold.

          Like

  24. Brian

    https://www.espn.com/college-football/story/_/id/32061095/penn-state-ad-says-big-ten-more-money-mind-exploring-alliance-pac-12-acc

    PSU’s AD spoke about the alliance and about the NCAA’s restructuring.

    Penn State athletic director Sandy Barbour on Saturday said “the Big Ten feels like it’s in a really good place” as the conference explores an alliance with the ACC and Pac-12, but that it continues to pay attention to what brings value beyond money.

    “I do think that there are conferences out there that could bring value from a monetary standpoint, particularly, speaking about our television contract and our television revenues,” Barbour said. “… The Big Ten really prides itself on being more than just an athletics conference, in terms of our provosts get together, we share some library resources, some other academic resources.”

    Barbour said that 40% of the Association of American Universities — a group of leading research schools — lies within the Pac-12, Big Ten and ACC conferences.

    “I’m not trying to downplay the importance of value as it relates to upsizing our revenues — that certainly is important — but that’s not the only reason,” Barbour said. “And I think that there are some reasons around like-mindedness that would be very valuable to the conference.”

    The discussions are taking place as the entire NCAA is in the midst of a self-evaluation regarding its structure and governance. Barbour is one of 23 members appointed to the NCAA’s constitution committee.

    She said they had their first virtual meeting Tuesday, as the group begins its task of proposing a new governance model.

    “I don’t think this is going to be nibbling at the edges,” Barbour said. “I think it’s going to be bold. I hope I don’t have to retract that statement.”

    Like

    1. Jersey Bernie

      The comment by the PSU AD that “The Big Ten really prides itself on being more than just an athletics conference, in terms of our provosts get together, we share some library resources, some other academic resources” is a big deal. He made it clear that maximizing dollars for individual schools was not the biggest issue. It is an academic conference with sports, not a sports conference with schools attached, like the SEC.

      The assumption that other B1G ADs, and more importantly university presidents, feel that way, supports the belief that tOSU or Michigan are not breaking up their 100 year relationship with other B1G universities, even if wooed by a so-called super conference.

      The PAC is more vulnerable due to the relative lack of money from their TV network, but as discussed at great length here, geography both helps and hurts them. The ACC is stuck with their GOR for a long time, so who knows.

      Like

      1. Marc

        Jim Delany was the Big Ten commissioner for over 30 years. He might as well have had the middle name “cash register.” He hasn’t been gone that long. I would be a little skeptical of claims that “We are an academic conference with sports.”

        Not that I think Michigan and OSU are leaving — you are right about that.

        Like

        1. Jersey Bernie

          Other than perhaps the addition of Nebraska, I do not think that any cash register decisions were contrary to being primarily an academic conference. PSU, RU and UMd all fit in academically with the original 10.

          Beyond that because of cash register decisions, the B1G is the one conference that does not need to fear the financial might of the SEC. That is not so true of the PAC and ACC.

          Like

          1. Marc

            Other than perhaps the addition of Nebraska, I do not think that any cash register decisions were contrary to being primarily an academic conference.

            Nebraska, PSU, RU, and UMd were all added for athletic and/or financial reasons. There were basic academic criteria that made it impossible for many institutions even to be considered. But once past that, the decision was based on other criteria. Otherwise, why isn’t Rice in the Big Ten?

            Compare it to a job search, where you don’t get the interview without certain minimum academic qualifications; but once you’ve met them, the decision is based mostly on other factors.

            Like

          2. Jersey Bernie

            What I said was accurate, PSU, RU and MD all fit the academic conference criteria. Clearly academics were not the only criteria or U Toronto would be in the B1G. It fits geographically much better than an outlier in Texas. There is also Johns Hopkins, which is already a member in lacrosse.

            How did any of those three schools negatively impact an academic conference, which also had major sports programs? Again, Nebraska was a straight financial play based on expected football. I would guess that if NE applied today the lack of AAU membership (and less impressive football) would be fatal.

            As an aside, the ACC thought that it had the entire east coast tied up. With no presence in the NY market, I am not sure why they believed that. With teams in the NY market, NJ, PA, MD and the DC area, I guess that Delany blocked that play. So in addition to the required academics, a strategic goal was accomplished by Delany.

            As far as the analogy to the job interview, which qualified candidates were interested in this job and not selected? I think that there were none, since Texas/Oklahoma and ND had no interest in the job.

            Like

        2. bob sykes

          When I joined the OSU faculty in 1972, it was an open-admissions, undergraduate-oriented school. It’s academic ranking in the B1G was near the bottom. It and Michigan State stood out like high schools in a conference of high quality research institutes.

          That really rankled the Board of Trustees and many senior faculty. They engaged a decades long campaign to reorganize OSU (and MSU) as a high level research institutes with selective admissions. And they succeeded.

          The research dollars that come to a research institute far exceed the penny ante change that the Athletic Department brings in. OSU, and the B1G, truly are, today, an academic conference with sports–on the side, I might add.

          Like

          1. Doug

            Way back in 1961. OSU went 8-0-1. The faculty voted to turn down the Rose Bowl invitation. They felt that sports was becoming more important than Academics.

            Looking back from 2021 that’s a very quant view.

            Like

          2. ccrider55

            Quaint, like reports the last decade that B1G turned down UT for their tech problem, or possibly the same for UT/OU combo?

            Like

  25. Scott Voytko

    Frank,

    PAC 12 commish said they have had teams ask to join, some that are obvious and some that would surprise you. Who do you think would be the surprises?

    Like

  26. Scott

    Frank,

    PAC 12 commish said teams are asking to join, some obvious and some that would surprise you. Who do you think are these surprise teams?

    Like

    1. Marc

      Asking is free, so he could be referring to schools with no believable shot.

      If the P-12 expands at all, the only imaginable schools are the B12 remnants, and conceivably BYU for football only (though I wouldn’t bet on it). Definitely not Boise State. Maybe there’s an AAC school or two that wouldn’t be laughed out of the room, though I don’t see it happening.

      Like

      1. urbanleftbehind

        I would give the Pac-12 props if they danced with Baylor (somewhat of a pun) to get BYU to sign on the dotted line and in order to get their made some Sunday-focused accommodations (early/late starting times for Bball and Olympic sports).

        Like

        1. I realize that it can be hard to put oneself into the mindset of people in other parts of the country, but the idea that the Pac-12 would “dance with Baylor” in order to entice BYU is breathtakingly out of touch. The Pac-12 has never had any interest in BYU and has even less interest in Baylor. This is not because either school is flawed or unworthy but because they simply do not fit with the west coast schools.
          .
          When schools have a long history together, as conference members or traditional rivals, these kinds of considerations aren’t so problematic (see Northwestern, Vanderbilt, etc.). And it is certainly true that serious money can make implausible things plausible (like the UT, TT, OU, OSU overture some years ago). But neither consideration applies to BYU/Baylor and the Pac-12.

          Adding BYU might make a tiny bit of economic sense (or, at least, probably wouldn’t cost the other schools much) and wouldn’t be a total geographic mismatch. But it is hard to imagine a bigger cultural/academic outlier (Liberty? Bob Jones?). Baylor might be less problematic on that score (though only slightly), but it also makes no economic or geographic sense whatsoever for the Pac-12.

          It is fun to think about moving universities around like chess pieces but more interesting if we maintain at least some relationship to reality. When the BIG shows interest in Mississippi State, get back to me on Baylor and the Pac-12.

          Like

          1. manifestodeluxe

            “But it is hard to imagine a bigger cultural/academic outlier (Liberty? Bob Jones?).”

            It’d be fun to imagine Stanford and Cal sharing a conference with a school that still bans beards.

            Like

  27. Mike

    One problem I have with the twelve team playoff is an advantage that can be gained by losing a top five match up. Lets say the loser between top five Ohio St and Michigan (or Alabama/Auburn, anyone really) doesn’t fall any farther than 5. The loser is almost assured a home playoff game. The winner still has to play the CCG vs another (probable) top ten team to earn a bye. If they lose, they are in the exact same place they would have been had they lost the original top five match up. I just don’t like the CCG game being a hinderance to any conference’s playoff teams.

    So here’s a thought that will improve the importance of playing in CCGs and hinder those teams backing in to the playoff. The teams getting home playoff games must come from a pool of teams that are either conference champions* or played in a conference championship game. Basically the top four champions get a bye, the next four best division winners host, and then then the next four best teams qualify.

    *Notre Dame exceptions of course.

    Like

    1. Marc

      There is no requirement that conferences must have CCGs at all, and there is also no requirement to have divisions either. What IS true, is that a conference with 12 or more teams needs divisions if it wants to stage a CCG. That requirement might not last forever.

      Like

      1. Mike

        There is no requirement that conferences must have CCGs at all, and there is also no requirement to have divisions either.

        I know. That’s why I said “a pool of teams that are either conference champions or played in a conference championship game.” The CCGs are not going anywhere any time soon. I just want them to be more important.

        Like

        1. Marc

          Beware the law of unintended consequences. The BCS changed its formula multiple times, as the old formulas kept producing undesired results. You have to backtest over a 10–20 year period, rather than just giving one cherry-picked example.

          Even in your example, the CCG would not be unimportant. Let’s say Alabama beats Auburn. They’d be playing for a conference championship and a first-round bye, something Auburn can’t do. Should Alabama lose the CCG, they’d still get a better first-round seed by virtue of their h-2-h win over Auburn.

          Like

          1. @Marc – Right. I’d argue that the 12-team playoff structure (as currently proposed with the top 4 conference champs receiving byes) would make the CCG more important compared to an 8-team playoff structure. In the 8-team playoff structure, there might be few stakes to a CCG with 2 highly-ranked teams that would likely make the playoffs regardless of who wins (such as the Clemson-Notre Dame ACC CCG last year). Meanwhile, it’s pretty clear that winning a CCG in a 12-team playoff is quite meaningful where that winner is provided a direct bye to the quarterfinals while the loser can only get a first round game at best (if not knocked out of the playoff race altogether).

            That’s part of why I’ve been personally coming around more and more to the 12-team playoff structure. Believe me – I’ve been an 8-team playoff proponent for many years. Long before I wrote about conference realignment, I was putting out 8-team playoff proposals back in 2005 when I first started this blog. Up until the news came out that the powers that be were seriously considering a 12-team playoff, I really thought an 8-team playoff was the eventual end game for the postseason. However, giving the top 4 conference champs byes shifts a lot of weight back to the CCGs – they’re paradoxically more important in a 12-team system despite having a larger field than an 8-team system (where byes can’t be awarded and CCG losers can end up in the same quarterfinal round as the CCG winners). IMHO, that’s a positive feature of the 12-team playoff system.

            Like

          2. urbanleftbehind

            It’s also conceivable that for the CCGs, more for B10 and P12 that a # 1 Osu or Oregon plays a 3 or 4 loss Iowa / Colorado who managed to right the ship after bad nonconference losses and a key upset of Wisconsin or USC, in that case the rule might be superfluous and cost an otherwise 11-1 or 10-2 division mate UM or Washington a chance at a “home” game. This might be less of a problem in an SEC or ACC which might favor slotting in the higher ranked team regardless of division record.

            This type of stringent adherence to tie- breaking protocol resulted in Rose Bowls like 10-1 IL v. 6 -4-1 UCLA in 83/84 and the IA v. UCLA RB 2 years later.

            Like

  28. Mike

    This is very interesting article on the internal dynamics of the WAC.

    https://www.extrapointsmb.com/wac-expansion-realignmet-college-sports/

    Realignment thoughts:


    Multiple league sources indicated to me that they believed it was very important to not expand simply for the sake of expanding to fill out a league schedule or secure an FCS auto-bid.

    [snip]

    One source at a Texas institution told me that he believed his school would be reluctant to support the inclusion of any other Southland schools, like perhaps Incarnate Word, or McNeese State, without “significant changes to their business plans.” After all, he told me, “we left the Southland because we sought to better align with schools that fit our long-term goals. Why would we turn around and add those same schools, unless they made big changes?”

    Multiple league sources also told me they believed that as of now, adding a D-II school would be unlikely, as the league would prefer to not have three members of the conference reclassifying at the same time. That would further limit the potential expansion pool. Sources told me they expected the league to be patient, waiting until next year, or even potentially longer, to add new members. After all, Big 12 and other conference realignment decisions elsewhere in college sports could create trickle-down effects that might free up a new candidate to potentially join the league. Another league source added that while nobody wanted to push another school out of the league, it was always possible that the WAC could lose a school, dropping their membership back to an even 12.

    and


    “Over the last decade, this conference had to do a lot of things to just survive. They weren’t making membership decisions from a position of strength. They weren’t governing from a position of strength. They just needed to keep enough members together to hang on.”

    “But that isn’t our league anymore. We have an identity. We have some very strong members. Now, we need to change the way we approach everything.”

    One undeniable advantage? This league has some big schools, and many could get even bigger.

    [snip]

    This, far more than state lines, is where I am told tensions and disagreements are most likely to pop up. How much risk, either in a media rights deal, membership agreement, scheduling philosophy, etc, are you willing to take, knowing that your campus could look very different in six years? If you’ve been betting on yourself over the last decade, and believe that you could be a larger and more prestigious school in the near future, maybe you’d want to look at other potential media partners, for example. Maybe you’d want your member schools to spend more money or schedule more aggressively.

    Like

  29. Mike

    Wilner on the Pac12

    https://www.mercurynews.com/2021/08/23/pac-12-football-strategy-timing-of-expansion-decision-future-of-the-conference-schedule-and-the-goal-of-the-three-league-alliance/

    The conference will decide within weeks whether it wants to expand — but not which schools it might add.

    “We’ll have a decision in the next couple weeks about whether or not we’re looking at expansion,’’ commissioner George Kliavkoff told the Hotline. “If we do look at expansion, then it would be a process that we would go through.

    “But the first decision is whether or not we want to expand.”

    The Pac-12 has formed an expansion working group that features high-ranking campus officials, with each of the six travel partners represented.

    [snip]

    However, multiple industry sources contacted by the Hotline in recent weeks believe the most likely outcome for the conference is to remain at 12.

    “No schools really add value,” said a source not affiliated with the Pac-12.

    Like

    1. Marc

      Wilner has been saying for a while, that according to his sources, no Pac-12 expansion candidates drive enough value to be worthwhile.

      Interesting comment on the playoff: “…by delaying expansion until the next contract cycle, the CFP could take all 11 games (over four rounds) to the open market and accept multiple bids, thereby driving up the price.”

      So, it would seem none of his sources are disputing that there will be 11 playoff games (i.e., 12 teams) in the next cycle. That doesn’t make him right—he is just one journalist—but it aligns with Frank’s view that 12 is a foregone conclusion.

      However, it does not align with Frank’s view that they’ll go to 12 before the contract expires. Early expansion is a heavy lift, because as the article notes, it requires unanimous agreement among a considerable number of parties to do so.

      Like

      1. @Marc – My guess is that we’ll end up somewhere in between on the playoff front: we get the expanded playoff sooner prior to the current contract ending and there will be an extension with ESPN, but it will be more along the lines of a 3-to-5-year extension as opposed to a 10-12-year extension (which is probably more of what ESPN wants).

        As someone that negotiates contracts for a living, it all cuts both ways with unanimous consent: while withholding consent and killing CFP expansion altogether until the current contract ends is the ultimate hammer, the flip side is that each party can leverage the power of their required consent under the current contract to obtain concessions now in a way that may be more difficult (or at the very least completely rolling the dice) if the current CFP contract were allowed to end without any changes. The protections for the Rose Bowl that the Big Ten and Pac-12 would be seeking are a perfect example: it’s very clear that the rest of the CFP will have to play ball with those three parties in amending the current contract because consent is required from all of them, but the motivation could be totally different if the current contract is allowed to expired. Now, the Big Ten and Pac-12 will always be key parties due to them being power conferences, but we can’t say the same for the Rose Bowl. The next playoff proposal could look at removing the bowls from the playoff system completely. It might be the case that the only reason why it was recommended that bowls be quarterfinal and semifinal games in the 12-team playoff is because the consent of the NY6 bowls would be required to amend the current contract, while that issue completely goes away with a brand new agreement.

        Like

    2. Logan

      Something that’s been lost in this round of realignment is how important getting to 12 was back in 2011. Colorado and Utah added value just by adding a conference football championship game alone – they didn’t have to otherwise raise the share of the pie for everyone else. Texas Tech, OK State, Kansas all have a much higher bar to clear in terms of value add.

      Like

      1. @Logan – Great point. Getting a conference championship game in and of itself meant that 12 teams provided a tangible advantage over a smaller league in 2010-11. When the NCAA rule was passed that allowed the 10-team Big 12 to hold a CCG, that killed any incentive for Big 12 expansion at the time. Going to 16 teams today certainly isn’t an advantage in and of itself in today’s world – the bar has been *massively* raised for expansion to make financial sense. It really does take a UT/OU-type blockbuster expansion to make sense for the SEC and Big Ten at this point and the hurdles for the rest of the Big 12 to make sense for another power conference are that much higher.

        Like

  30. Jersey Bernie

    Here is an article about TV contracts from the perspective of the Big East. It goes into detail about the value that UConn basketball offers to the Big East. A key for the league is that it gets great coverage from FS1.

    The addition of UConn was very important to the next Big East contract coming up in 2025. They are hoping for a contract of $6 to $8 million, plus NCAA money. The big issue is whether the all basketball league can keep up with the P5 for coaches, facilities, etc.

    It is interesting that when considering league contracts, the author mentions keeping up with the B1G and the ACC in one sentence. I do not think that the ACC would necessarily agree with that.

    https://ncaahoopsdigest.com/2021/06/18/the-big-easts-media-marriage-life-beyond-2025-with-fs1/

    Fox Sports has spared no expense in creating a platform for the league. Fans blissfully listen to the outro to John Tesh’s “Roundball Rock” between timeouts and hear in-game commentary from the dulcet tones of familiar voices like Bill Raftery and Gus Johnson. The Big East feels like a conference heavyweight in large part because Fox makes it feel that way.

    …..

    “I believe Fox was instrumental in pushing for UConn’s addition to assist in the TV contract valuation,” McNamara noted when addressing UConn’s inclusion to a conference they chartered over 40 years ago. “UConn is obviously a very attractive program for Fox and do not forget the addition of the women’s program. Those UConn-Baylor, UConn-Notre Dame regular-season games are ratings winners.”

    With Connecticut’s added value the question now becomes: how much more is the Big East worth to Fox? It may be just a few years before we find out.

    …..

    Want to stay afloat with schools from the Big Ten and ACC? Prepare for a bloated athletics budget that’s capable of affording state-of-the-art practice facilities and handsomely paid assistants. Today’s assistant coaches at the high-major level now out-earns most head coaches at smaller universities.

    This spring saw the University of Kentucky pry Orlando Antigua and Ron “Chin” Coleman away from Illinois, rewarding them with industry-leading deals. Per the Courier-Journal, Antigua will earn $850,000 next season while Coleman will receive $450,000 with $50,000 increases over each of the next three seasons. Let’s compare these numbers to the compensation at the mid-major level. For instance, Dustin Kerns at Appalachian State earns $300,000, or Michael Huger of Bowling Green earns $415,000.

    ….

    It’s reasonable to anticipate that an increase from $4.6M per school annually could grow to $6-8M with a new media deal in 2025. This feels especially plausible with UConn in tow once the league pulls up to the negotiating table. Will a new deal be enough to keep the league competitive with their football-sponsoring rivals? The answer to this hangs in the balance of what could upset the symbiotic relationship between Fox Sports and the Big East

    Like

    1. Marc

      The addition of UConn was very important to the next Big East contract coming up in 2025.

      No one in at least the last quarter-century has made a conference realignment or significant scheduling decision without consulting a TV partner.

      Many folks criticize the SEC for doing that, but as you see here, UConn and the Big East did it too. Everyone does. They’d be crazy not to.

      Like

      1. ccrider55

        Marc,

        Please stop it. Several times it has been pointed out that everyone expects basic communication with current or potential media partners by conferences. My, and I assume others, concern is with espn bein involved in an attempt to reorganize and renew the CFP while simultaneously being involved with possible structural changes to the primary makeup of those most effected without everyone being aware of those changes. Good for the sec getting UT/OU. Collateral damage only 8 FBS schools (sarcasm).
        A: Too bad the other primary stakeholders in the FBS weren’t apprised of the changing landscape before being expected to build a new foundation.
        B: is this also a case of taking advantage of some of those involved who may very well have some increased need for added revenue? Such a magnanimous gesture by espn. I’m sure they won’t mind giving the Big12-2-2+2-2 a contract extension, with escalators, to maintain their levels near what would have been forecast with no realignment.
        C: who benefits most by no open bidding on a new format ?

        As I’ve indicated before, the schools are capable of creating their own mess. They don’t need an independent commercial enterprise becoming a controlling partner.

        Like

        1. Marc

          I am sorry you are unhappy, but as long as you keep insisting this was unusual, I will keep reminding you that it was typical. Realignment always has winners and losers.

          The SEC, like every other party, was under no obligation to disclose its strategy before it was ready. You think nobody else plans they didn’t share? The SEC’s were just better and riper than the others.

          What’s more, the SEC’s strategy was totally predictable, even if its timing was not. I could not have told you for sure that TX and OU would move to the SEC. Everyone knew, or should have known, that they’d consider it.

          Most parties had long wanted structural changes to the playoff, for reasons having nothing to do with the SEC’s decision to take UT and OU. All parties signed an exclusive deal with ESPN, when they knew or should have known that all of the above was possible.

          None of this has anything to do with my personal preferences. Sometimes, you just have to tip your cap to the guys who made the best deal.

          Like

          1. ccrider55

            Marc,

            “ The SEC, like every other party, was under no obligation to disclose its strategy…”

            Unhappy with espn. Is that simple enough for you to comprehend?
            Understand, and agree that the sec (or any conf) would accept UT. I’m not sure the B1G would have OU, but everyone else would have. Heck, the Pac offered each’s former partners a 4 for 2 deal.

            “ I will keep reminding you that it was typical.”

            And the point is missed, again.

            “ What’s more, the SEC’s strategy was totally predictable…”

            Feel free to link your, or anyone’s prediction.

            “ Most parties had long wanted structural changes to the playoff, for reasons having nothing to do with the SEC’s decision to take UT and OU.”

            Precisely!
            And then they got intertwined behind doors closed to major interest holders.

            “ All parties signed an exclusive deal with ESPN,.”

            A deal that expires in just a few more years. Knowing everything possible would be extremely important to know and evaluate before considering extending that exclusive contract. This dramatic proposal, to me, seems easily worthy of taking to the open market.

            “ when they knew or should have known that all of the above was possible.”

            Only two in the room knew that it was, in fact, happening. And a rush to get the new playoff deal started before it leaked out isn’t a far fetched conspiracy theory. Why was June such an important timeframe to get to a vote?

            “ Sometimes, you just have to tip your cap to the guys who made the best deal.”

            This of mine isn’t that?: “ Good for the sec getting UT/OU.”

            Sarcastic comment meant to point out the “gain” made has an associated cost to college football at large.

            Like

  31. Mike

    The Big Paclantic (Football Voltron?) expected to be announced today. As Obi Wan said (probably), “Its over SEC, we have the moral high ground”

    Like

    1. manifestodeluxe

      “The Big Paclantic (Football Voltron?)…”

      So who forms the head? I assume it’s the BigTen for obvious reasons, but… do the Pac12 and ACC agree? Is there a head? Who’s Hunk? Does this make the Big12 Sven and the SEC Emperor Zarkon? This announcement raises so many questions.

      Like

        1. Alan from Baton Rouge

          A few comments from the Alliance’s press conference left unsaid but understood.

          ACC: “We will continue to schedule SEC opponents in all sports.”

          B1G: “Nothing in the ‘Alliance’s’ gentlemen’s agreement will prevent us from attempting to poach UNC & UVA when the time is right.”

          Like

          1. z33k

            Yeah, doesn’t seem like this will stop future expansion decisions given the press release outright states that they’re still “competitors in every sense”, and we all know that school membership is one of those issues.

            Like

      1. buckeyeinexile

        Maybe not a first rate display of PR savvy, but mobilizing a formidable voting bloc for governance issues leading to the stabilization of CFB, and setting the stage for additional marquee lineups isn’t a bad start.

        Like

        1. Colin

          Buckeye, do you really think this really a “formidable” voting bloc? Are the ACC/B1G/P12 going to vote in unison on all issues, e.g. playoff expansion, NIL? And these “marquee lineups” are also dubious. My Purdue Boilers play Oregon State in the first game of the 2021 season. Does it really make any difference if they play OSUw or TCU or Vandy?

          Like

          1. buckeyeinexile

            Turkey has been in NATO since 1952, so NC State et al can probably be brought in line against a common threat. 2. I meant to say “matchups,” of which there are several great ones that are obvious. Some of the blue chip B1G schools could use some better OOC matchups, and this may be a catalyst for it. I’m a glass half full kind of guy.

            Like

          2. z33k

            It only has to do one thing to succeed: delay the CFP expansion and get it into an open bidding situation and break up the monopoly ESPN has on the postseason.

            It’s a lot harder to blame 3 of the 4 Power conferences (including ND) for delaying the expansion if it comes down to it.

            It’s going to be SEC, ESPN, G5 on one side, but that’s really just the SEC.

            Everything else is window dressing.

            Like

          3. Alan from Baton Rouge

            Notre Dame was on the committee that came up with the proposed playoff format – a format that greatly benefits the Irish.

            Like

          4. buckeyeinexile

            There is also the matter of attempting to stall further realignment and stabilize the ACC to keep the SEC from grabbing Clemson and FSU. Yeah, the ACC has that terrible deal, but it’s still a possibility.

            Like

          5. ccrider55

            Alan,

            True, but was Swarbrick aware of the eminent conference realignment?
            Was he aware of potential concerns a number of ND’s traditional yearly opponents might have with the proposal immediately followed by a major change to the CFB landscape?

            Again, not bashing the SEC. Just noting that the OU/UT move dramatically altered the total landscape. The other conferences would be derelict if they proceed as if nothing changed.

            Like

          6. Alan from Baton Rouge

            cc- from a playoffs perspective, I think OU and UT to the SEC is being a bit overblown. Certainly from a revenue standpoint, it’s a monster splash, but some combination of OU, Alabama, LSU, or Georgia is going to lose more games. And Texas hasn’t been a factor since 2009.

            Like

  32. wscsuperfan

    https://collegefootballnews.com/2021/08/acc-big-ten-pac-12-alliance-the-media-market-advantage-college-football-daily-cavalcade

    Pete Fiutak of CFN argues the alliance should just move forward and create a true 40+ team super-conference. The alliance would have 12 of the top 16 media markets and 23 of the top 30. The alliance would obliterate the media market share vs. the SEC.

    The Alliance would have NYC (#1), LA (#2), Chicago (#3), Philadelphia (#4), San Francisco/Oakland (#6), Washington, D.C. (#9), Boston (#10), Phoenix (#11), Seattle (#12), Minneapolis (#14), Detroit (#15) and Denver (#16).

    The SEC would have Dallas (#5), Atlanta (#7), Houston (#8), Tampa (sort of) (#13). Even St. Louis (#23) has a Big Ten contingent with its market despite Missouri being in the SEC.

    Like

    1. z33k

      The problem is TV money. That’s way too many mouths to feed, and you’d end up just diluting the brand value of the conferences themselves.

      Unless you’re dropping like 20 teams into a 2nd tier and creating a relegation system, it just won’t work, and a half the teams would never agree to that.

      There’s way too many teams from small markets that don’t pull their weight in the 41.

      Like

      1. Colin

        BINGO. Exactly. Spot On.

        The BTN has been a huge success and the ACC Network and P12 Network have been total fiascos. Why on earth would the Big Ten get into a TV “alliance” with these turkeys?

        Like

  33. Logan

    I’m going to risk mentioning politics but only for an analogy. People often argue in favor of term limits for political office, but the response is that we don’t need term limits, we have elections. If the voters believe a politician has served in office too long, they are free to vote her out of office.

    Doesn’t the same logic apply to a cap on playoff participants? Let the voters, aka the selection committee, decide. Right now the 13 members include 7 with clear ties to the Alliance (NC State x2, Nebraska, Colorado, Iowa, Arizona State and Penn State). The rest of the committee is two SEC, one Big 12, two G5 and one lower division.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/College_Football_Playoff#Selection_committee

    The committee rotates every year, but it seems likely that most of the time, they will have enough votes to put an unofficial cap on the number per conference. So why enshrine it in the rules? Let pundits in Week 8 speculate about 6 SEC or 5 B1G team all they want. And if there is a crazy year where a bunch of teams from one conference legitimately deserve to get in, the selection committee is free to make it happen.

    Like

      1. Logan

        The at-large bids will never be clear cut. The committee can say they put a priority on fewest losses or winning a division or results on the field matter (ie SEC team that lost to an SEC playoff team on the field and therefore eliminated themselves from consideration) or whatever. It’s no different than talking about “game control” or “body clock”.

        Like

    1. Jersey Bernie

      I could not disagree with you more. The wild card is ESPN. Clearly the network will use every ounce of its power to try to get more SEC teams in. Every year, not in a crazy year.

      That will show up in coverage, commentary, and yes, voting.

      ESPN along with the SEC and Sankey have shown that they are willing to do anything, no matter how underhanded it appears everyone other than an SEC fan. Why would anyone believe that ESPN will not continue to manipulate the system in every way possible?

      If the SEC and UT/OU had simply made the announcement before the subcommittee got together, no problem. The SEC would have made a major move honestly and above board.

      This entire issue would be very different. The SEC would have won that round fair and square. There is a good reason that the Big Paclantic group (or whatever you wish to call the alliance) are very unhappy and it relates to honesty.

      What Sankey and the SEC did tiptoed at the edge of the legal definition of fraud and there is no way to sugar coat it.

      One definition of fraud is:

      “Fraud is generally defined in the law as an intentional misrepresentation of material existing fact made by one person to another with knowledge of its falsity and for the purpose of inducing the other person to act, and upon which the other person relies with resulting injury or damage. Fraud may also be made by an omission or purposeful failure to state material facts, which nondisclosure makes other statements misleading.”

      Sankey came pretty close. He intentionally did not disclose to Bowlsby and the others that UT/OU were leaving the Big 12 to come to the SEC, with the active involvement of ESPN.

      His intent (and that of ESPN) were that the subcommittee would make a proposal to the committee that the playoffs expand to 12, and that should start soon. The impact of that would be that ESPN would be the only bidder for the extension, which certainly would bring down the value of the expansion to everyone.

      Of course, ESPN could make the SEC whole by using its influence to maximize the number of SEC teams. In turn that would hurt other conferences. ESPN could also slightly increase its new SEC contract, above what it would have done otherwise. That would make up for any lowball bid by ESPN for the new playoffs.

      Do I think that the Big12 or 8 or whatever could win a civil fraud trial against Sankey, the SEC, and ESPN? Probably not, as I said above, but it comes really close. Arguably the Big12 has not been damaged due to the fraud in the sense that UT/OU would have been gone in any event.

      If the intent was not to deceive, why was this hidden until it was leaked by some source (TAMU?).

      Like

      1. Logan

        Not sure what 90% of this post has to do with what I said.

        If there should be a cap on the college football playoff, what cap do you propose for the college basketball tournament? Surely 9 at-large from the B1G last year was too many, especially considering the cozy (corrupt?) relationship between the B1G and CBS 🙂

        Like

        1. Jersey Bernie

          9 at large bids for the B1G in the last March Madness was a fiasco. The league was clearly badly overrated.

          How about if each college basketball leagues gets a maximum of 1/6th of the field, rounded up to a whole number, in other words 11 teams, which was done once?

          Since there are fewer football teams theoretically eligible, go with the cap for the football playoff at 25% of the field, three teams. Sounds fair. If you really want to be enthusiastic double the percentage of March Madness and go to 33.3%, which is four teams from one conference.

          Like

      2. Alan from Baton Rouge

        Bernie – that’s pretty strong. I’ve represented clients on a few mergers and sales. The first thing we do before engaging in anything other than superficial discussions, is sign a nondisclosure agreement. I would have to assume that the SEC, UT & OU were operating under a NDA at the time.

        I doubt Jim Delaney asked permission to speak with Rutgers or Maryland from their respective conference commissioners prior to engaging in negotiations.

        Regarding the playoff format, the SEC could certainly argue the they come out fine under any proposal. The SEC was fine with the BCS, but the B1G wanted the CFP. The SEC is fine with the CFP in its current form but PAC & G5 want to expand.

        I would argue that the SEC didn’t benefit in 2011 or 2017 by having two teams in the championship game, but Alabama benefitted by having two bites at the apple. In a two or four team format, other teams were more deserving.

        Historically, that’s been the argument – Most deserving versus best. In a two or four team format, I would err on the side of most deserving. In my opinion, OK State should have made the 2011 BCS NCG and Ohio State should have made the CFP in 2017.

        In a twelve team format, all the most deserving teams will be addressed with the first 3-5 slots, so why limit the rest of the best?

        Like

  34. Phil

    Dennis Dodd of CBS mentioned that Notre Dame is considered part of the Alliance. Considering that Stanford and USC play Notre Dame every year, That is asking a lot for those 2 programs to play any other big non-conference games, in fairness they are doing their share. Hopefully the Big ten and Pac12 stay at 9 conference games and we see a handful of inter-alliance games a year, enough to placate the networks but not burdensome. This year we have Ohio State-Oregon, Michigan-Washington, Wisky-ND, Purdue-ND, Oregon State-Purdue. Maybe a rotation of a half or third of each conference involved in these Intra-Alliance games in a given year.

    Like

  35. Pingback: The Big Paclantic: Thoughts on the Big Ten, Pac-12 and ACC Alliance – FRANK THE TANK'S SLANT

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