From Mandel’s Mailbag ($$), about the next round of conference realignment:
If there’s another big round of shuffling, it will likely come somewhere in the 2023-26 range. Several major TV contracts will come up for bid in short succession, starting with the Big Ten (2023), followed by the Pac-12 (2024), Big 12 (2025) and, perhaps most significantly, the College Football Playoff (2025). Don’t think it’s a coincidence that the Big Ten opted for shorter-than-usual six-year deals with ESPN and FOX in its last round of negotiations. Or that the Pac-12 recently turned down a tempting offer from ESPN to take over distribution for the long-struggling Pac-12 Networks that would have locked in its Tier 1 rights “well into the 2030s.”
Most people in the business believe there could be some sort of major shakeup around the time of that aforementioned window. But nobody has any idea what that might be, in large part because the TV rights climate is changing so rapidly.
Got that? When realignment comes — again — it won’t be a matter of what’s best for the sport. It’ll be a matter of what’s best for the conferences’ bank accounts.
College football doesn’t need a commissioner. Just outsource the job to the head of ESPN and eliminate the middleman.