An Alliance to Stop the Superconference

It started with a move

Almost a month ago, the Oklahoma Sooners and Texas Longhorns announced their agreement to move from the Big 12 conference to the SEC

Watch the news segment here.

This was major news, as the 2 teams are each faced with paying a pretty penalty, worth around $80 million, if they make an early departure. The schools had an agreement to stay with the Big 12 until summer of 2025. 

The Sooners and Horns are very valuable, with strong athletic programs and reputable academic institutions. They are probably the most powerful members of the Big 12 conference. The SEC is on its way to attaining the wealthiest teams in the league. 

The SEC now has 16 teams after the addition of the Sooners and Horns. The 2 teams joining the SEC adds to the prominence of the conference, helping them grow in power to become a superconference. 


Leaving the past behind them

The Big 12 now only has 8 teams in the conference. They are at threat of losing value, reputation, and status if they are able to survive their massive loss. 

Other colleges in this conference have to make the choice of either braving it out, hoping for a positive outcome, or they may have to make a move to save themselves. If a majority of colleges make the later choice, the conference will collapse. They will be left with nothing. This move affects not only the football athletics, but budgeting for other college sports, student enrollment numbers, and eligibility for research grants. 

(image above: PAC-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff)


PAC-12 commissioner, George Kliavkoff spoke with Big 12’s commissioner, Bob Bowlsby about solutions to recover from the loss of the Horns and the Sooners with the option of partnering with other conferences. This would help the Big 12 grow their numbers and stay afloat. 

The merger would not be as vital to the PAC-12, for the conference has a much more stable standing in the league. The fallout of the Horns and Sooners gave the PAC-12 a chance to consider the opportunity of expansion with a chance to take in the other Big 12 schools, but how valuable are the remaining schools?


A counter to the SEC 

After their meeting, PAC-12 did not move forward with the Big 12 conference. Instead, PAC-12 has made a plan to form an alliance with the ACC, and the Big Ten to restrict the growth and influence of the mega-SEC. This unity of 3 could help prevent the SEC from overthrowing college football, as conferences are beginning to assume the role of governance in the NCAA. The league will not be swayed by the lead of the SEC. 

What happens to the Big 12?

The Big 12 is left out of this merge and is left to face every threat alone. The SEC benefits greatly  from what they gained from the Big 12. They are now able to increase the number of games up to 10 games; there are possibilities of new rivalries. They gain relevance from their new additions, enough to earn a prime time slot on air. The SEC has plans on moving to ESPN from CBS after decades of televising. CBS has limited the amount of prime time for games to 1 to 2 a year; moving to ESPN will allow the SEC up to a dozen games. The deal starts in 2024, unless Disney can buy the SEC out of their current contract with CBS. 

The Big 12 is doomed to fail not only after losing their 2 most prominent teams, but they’ll be left dead in the water once the three-conference alliance has formed. The Big 12 has lost their appeal and will struggle to get any excitement from fans if they continue on. 


Motives behind the alliance

The merging of the 3 conferences seems to make sense in the fight against the growing SEC, but why would such a high-earning conference like the Big 10 join forces with the ACC and PAC-12? The Big 10 conference is currently the wealthiest conference in college football, earning around $54 million per school. It may not seem beneficial for the Big 10 to share the wealth, but their motives stem from the roots of the commissioners, branding, diversity of matchups, and old rivalries . 

(image above: Big 10 Commissioner Kevin Warren)


For instance, Kevin Warren, commissioner for the Big 10 started his academic career in Phoenix under PAC-12. ACC commissioner Jim Phillips worked with both conferences as well as the SEC. 

(image above: ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips)


This merger also yields positive results for academics. If the alliance of the three conferences can gain the remaining 3 most valuable college programs, there is a more fair financial competition against the SEC. The Association of American Universities (AAU) are the top research institutions in North America.

 

40% of those colleges in the AAU are in the Big 10, ACC, and PAC-12 conferences. This status benefits enrollment and employee numbers, which in turn, brings more money in for the colleges that can be invested back into athletics to grow more and more successful.

What does all this mean?

Nothing is set in stone yet about an alliance, but the SEC will be growing with the addition of the Sooners and the Horns. Once the merge is made, the SEC will have obtained 7 out of the top 10 most valuable college teams. As of right now, the SEC is the second-highest conference in revenue, making around $44 million per college. Once they obtain the Horns and the Sooners, they will easily surpass the Big Ten in earnings. 

There is going to be higher demand for SEC games, which causes a battle for air time among the conferences. This growth gives the SEC power to make other, big decisions that other schools may be forced to follow; if SEC schools increase their scholarship limit, others will have to do the same to keep up and stay competitive. This could come easily to popular schools such as ACC’s Clemson, Big 10’s Ohio State, and PAC-12’s Southern California. Other schools, however, may struggle to keep up and get funding. There is a meeting about College Football Playoff expansion scheduled for September 28th, so stay tuned for what decisions are made.

Listen to Steve discuss the current events below.

UPDATE:
It looks like they sealed the deal! It's official, the alliance has formed. 

We don't want to make this post any longer than it has to be. It's already a long one and you've read a lot. If you want to learn more about the official alliance, read this article here

Amanda Fortner

Amanda Fortner

Amanda Phillips is the Content Marketing Developer for Green Gridiron. She has a BS in Media and Communications. Amanda is skilled with writing for multiple media platforms, photography, and editing. She enjoys anything creative that she can get her hands on.


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