What player compensation is to many of you, conference realignment is to me. Anathema.
Realignment has proven itself to be a money-grubbing chase that’s destroyed some of the classic rivalries of my youth, like Oklahoma-Nebraska, stretched conferences in absurd geographic attempts to add television markets regardless of the mediocrity they’re forced to absorb (well played, ACC and Big Ten) and created a scheduling mess in the SEC that the conference is still struggling with almost a decade later.
But Jim Delany did earn a $20 million bonus, so there’s that. But I digress.
Anyways, I don’t know if it’s because of Connecticut’s move back to the Big East (a rare example of a conference jump driven by basketball rather than football) or that it’s simply July, or, more likely both, but there’s been plenty of pundit chatter about realignment of late, perhaps headlined by it being featured at The Athletic.
I’ve ignored most of it, because it’s a dreary subject for me, but then Stewart Mandel had to weigh in on the future of realignment ($$) and I couldn’t resist because I was curious what he might have to say about the Georgia program, which, as we all know, never has quite measured up on the national stage in Mandel’s opinion, forged as it is in the wisdom of 100 random Montanans.
Well, I have good news of a sort for you. Georgia is moving up in his estimation. As an example, at one point he refers to “brand-name foes like Georgia, Clemson and Florida State”.
Then there’s his discussion of this:
From a purely business standpoint, the most profitable move the biggest brand-name programs could make is to divorce themselves from the lower-tier brands in their own conferences that they are essentially subsidizing. Break off from the NCAA — in football only — and form a Premier League of sorts with the bluebloods from the other power conferences.
That culminates in this chart of what Mandel describes as “an exclusive league of the 24-32 most recognizable programs”.
On the one hand, Georgia. On the other… Tennessee?
Now, before you go there, I, like others, happen to think there are a lot of holes in the concept, but in terms of recognition, it looks like Mandel and Montana are warming up to that program in Athens. All it took was moving from the Middle Ages to the Gilded Age to get there.