Greg Sankey’s Sweet Sixteen, the national effect

I have to admit that my first reaction to the conference realignment news was excitement about the possibility that college football might embrace my preferred playoff format:  four 16-team, two-division conferences, with the conference championships played as the CFP quarterfinals.

There is so much good that would flow from that.  No more selection committee (and no more stupid ESPN selection committee show).  No more arguing over which team got screwed the most by the selection committee.  No more Herbstreit Doctrine issues.  The importance of conference play would be cemented in place.  Best of all, from my selfish standpoint, it’s the format best suited to resist bracket creep.

I assume in all of this that the departures of Oklahoma and Texas would be the death knell for the Big 12.  Were that to be the case, the big winner out of this would be the Pac-12, which would be able to pick and choose from the rubble left in the collapse in order to expand with P5 programs, and, more importantly, would assure itself of permanent relevance in the CFP (and, even more significantly, CFP money).

If the new Pac-12 commissioner is smart, he’s trying to figure out any way he can help grease the skids, of course, but, beyond that, he should be thinking now to propose a permanent arrangement of the CFP semi-finals that would have his conference face off against the Big Ten winner in the Rose Bowl while the ACC-SEC champs play in the Peach Bowl.  Locking down the Rose Bowl’s future like that would bring some powerful support to a P4 structure, which again benefits the Pac-12 the most.

I’m down with all this.  But.

But.  There’s the money to consider.  And, if you’re not the Pac-12, that gets tricky.

To start with, you have to figure that the Big 12 makes an effort to survive.  I doubt it works, because there’s very little left in the wake of Oklahoma and Texas leaving that’s financially attractive on the football side to the networks.  But let’s say it does.  That blows up the above-mentioned P4 concept, for starters.

In my mind, though, that’s not the biggest obstacle to a 64-school college football power division.  That belongs to the 12-team CFP proposal that, among others, Sankey has been championing.  If the revenue from the postseason is distributed based on the number of schools a conference places in the tourney, adding Oklahoma and Texas to the mix increases the likelihood that the SEC will have more schools in the playoff mix every year.  At minimum, three seems like a lock, four a strong possibility and five even possible at times.

You do the math.  A P4, eight-team format guarantees a 25% share to the SEC.  A 12-team CFP distribution matches that in weaker years and betters it in many others.  And that could happen with or without four power conferences.

Additionally, a 12-team playoff format means Notre Dame doesn’t have to join a conference.  It also leaves the mid-majors with a playoff spot in the CFP.

Like I said, it gets tricky.  In the end, though, it’ll be about the money because it’s always about the money.

42 Comments

Filed under BCS/Playoffs, College Football

42 responses to “Greg Sankey’s Sweet Sixteen, the national effect

  1. Down Island Way

    How long before enough $$$$ gets thrown at the Irish to join conference xyz or are they just that lucky there is enough to never join…evah…

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    • Think about the leverage ND would have with the Big Ten and the ACC fighting to have them join.

      Liked by 4 people

      • Down Island Way

        Listened to many who really complained about the season ticket holders who sold out to the visiting UGA fans in that wonderful weekend in 2017…so, the question of leverage isn’t the question, can the Irish be convinced/coerced/swindled into a conference affiliation or is their brand big enough (their vision of themselves) that friggin’ big, where they can continue to say “thanks for lunch”…

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        • Down Island Way

          Not saying ou or ut is bigger than the Irish…they $ee the value of conference affiliation, cause they can’t or scared to go it alone…

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  2. Holiday Inn Bagman

    I see money as the primary barrier to 4 super conferences. 10-15 years ago schools like OSU or Baylor’s might have brought economic value to the PAC through increased cable TV fees. We have now entered the moment where brand value is all that matters and Texas, OU, and Notre Dame are the only ones out there that could bring incremental revenue to a conference.

    It might be time to also stop legacy thinking about what a conference is and perhaps consider different alliances and formats for non-revenue generating sports.

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  3. PTC DAWG

    Any OOC games in your format would be meaningless.

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    • Not necessarily. Might need overall record as a tiebreaker.

      And I imagine the networks will still pay for heavyweight matchups.

      Liked by 2 people

      • PTC DAWG

        IF only division champs move forward..an OOC game will have zero meaning in the standings. Much like our Clemson game this year has ZERO to do with UGA winning the East. But unlike in your scenario, it could very well come into play come play off time.

        I don’t like having some weak ass division out west taking slots from deserving teams.

        Liked by 1 person

      • ericstrattonrushchairmandamngladtomeetyou

        Senator, your concept (which I wholeheartedly endorse) is essentially an 8 team playoff because the 4 conference champions games would be a de facto first round. That’s plenty of teams. I hope they don’t screw up this opportunity by prematurely jumping to the 12 team playoff model that has been bandied about recently.

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  4. godawgs1701

    Money trumps all, obviously. But I continue to truly hate that the people who run our sport have zero regard or concern for what made our sport special in the first place. I guess this arrangement at least preserves our core rivalries for a while longer, even if they no longer matter nearly as much to anyone younger than 35 years old or so because the SEC Champ will be in the playoff as long as they’ve only got two or possibly three losses.

    Fans of a lot of other schools aren’t going to be nearly as lucky to have their traditions survive.

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  5. I don’t think the powers that be are going to back off the 12 team proposal unless there is a full break from the NCAA (all sports). The Group of 5 frankly should be fine with this concept of a Power 4 if the 12-team format stays in place because it would mean they get 2 guaranteed slots (Baylor, TCU, Oklahoma State and WVU may have a better playoff path than through the Big 12).

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    • Someone mentioned in the other thread comments that WVU could end up in the ACC. That seems very plausible to me as well. I am guessing they would take the security of the annual conference TV deal check over the playoff path odds of being a Group of 5 team.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I said WVU probably would end up in the ACC. Otto mentioned the academic snobs in the ACC and the B1G wouldn’t welcome them, but I think today’s landscape of college sports at the highest level cares less and less about the academic reputation of a particular institution and more about whether you can add incremental revenue over your conference share to the TV package.

        Liked by 2 people

        • otto1980

          I did say snobs but it isn’t just snobs, it is research $$$$. Texas A&M and Mizzou are both highly rates school earning millions in research dollars that the other schools can partner with. WVU would have been the lowest rated school in the SEC in terms of academic standings. I think some group of 5 school or other Big12 school would get the lucky chair when the music stops.

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    • 79dawg

      The movement towards a P-4 would necessarily, I think naturally result in a separation and the G-5 (and D-II and III) being cast aside by the big guys. Frankly, I think there are a number of lower tier G-5 teams who might welcome it at this point (even though they may be unwilling to say so publicly)….

      Liked by 1 person

  6. 79dawg

    If the P-4 championship games are de jure playoff quarterfinals (they are something less than that now, varying to degree by conference), the value of those games will increase.
    Guess something is going to have to give for Sankey though: get to 16 teams and move the sport to a healthier P-4 model and equilibrium, or keep trying to press to the max all the time and set the stage for the next crisis/breaking point….

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hogbody Spradlin

    I know this is beside the point, but I always circle around to two unchangeable factors that affect the revenue from college football: geography and population.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. otto1980

    I like the 16 conference for the pods and the ability to keep rivalries

    On the flip side I think the nice clean playoff will lead to a decline in viewership and thus money. I watch fewer games with the 4 team playoff as UCLA upsetting USC for their 1st loss does not change the playoff picture for the SEC.

    Further we saw more preseason shows and signing day marathons under the BCS. The constant debate was the flaw and draw to the chaos that is college football.

    Bring back the BCS.

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  9. biggusrickus

    I don’t know how you figure there won’t be bracket creep with a Super I-A league. It’ll just continue the – what I consider to be – negative trend of the professionalization of major college sports. The NFL has 32 teams, and nearly half make the playoffs at this point. Over time, something similar would happen in this hypothetical college format.

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    • Mind telling me where I said there “won’t be bracket creep”?

      My exact words were “it’s the format best suited to resist bracket creep.” Big difference.

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      • biggusrickus

        Pedantry aside, I fail to see how it’s best suited to resist it. There are limits on football’s expansion of the field based on basic logistics, but it’s still going to creep to the practical limit of 20 or 24 teams if every other playoff format in every American sport is any indication. The 64-team super league just keeps the money where those schools want it.

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  10. uga97

    Teams including Notre Dame SHOULD be required to be in a conference to get to play in a 12 team cfp. Therefore all schools will know the rules & requirements to get a playoff invitation before a season starts, including inpendents & g5s.

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    • The conference commissioners (and their members) seem to be ok with ND as an independent. This year they play 9 P5 opponents, one of the best G5 teams (Cincinnati), Navy (traditional and usually decent G5 opponent), and no FCS opponents. Their schedule is sufficient to be CFP worthy.

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    • uga97

      So independents like notre Dame can schedule 9 lower tier p4/p5 independents & acc cream puffs & not play in a quarter final conf champ and get an auto cfp bid? That’s bs

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  11. originaluglydawg

    Clemson would be the hugest winner in all of this. (Even more so than now).Still sitting on top of a stack of sugar cookies while the SEC and other conferences create plans to kill each other during the season. Yeah, there will be expanded entry into the playoffs. With TX and OK in, any SEC team will be doing well to finish third. Clemmons will be laughing their asses off as a practical automatic qualifier every year.

    Liked by 1 person

    • chicagodawgfan

      Clemson might have an easier path to the CFP, but my bet is the SEC would reap significantly more money per member from this deal especially if ND stays independent or joins the Big10. Plus it didn’t help them much last year with one of the greatest college QBs of all-time.

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    • If FSU, Miami, and Virginia Tech got their collective $#!+ together, they would provide a more than sufficient challenge to the Greater Anderson Cow College. Everyone seems to forget that Florida State dominated the Almost Competitive Conference from 1992-2014. Virginia Tech won multiple conference championships after joining the league. Clemson won 1 conference championship during that time (2011) and proceeded to get firebombed by WVU in the Orange Bowl as a result.

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      • otto1980

        FSU and Miami agreed, and I have faith Miami can exploit NIL to the fullest at some point. Va Tech wins overrated conferences when they are down, their record against top 10 teams tell you everything you need to know.

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    • rigger92

      “Make plans to kill each other”. That’s very well stated and I’m going to use it. With this new super SEC there are 7 or 8 teams that have the resources to win playoff games and we will eat each other alive.

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  12. whb209

    Texas said they were being picked on by other teams when those teams used the upside down “Hook’em Horns”. Wait until those pansies play in the SEC. The hook’em sign will be the least of their worries.

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  13. MGW

    Mentioned it in comments of another article, but the national effect would be that the SEC would have at least seven of the maybe 13 total perennial/cyclical powers in the entire nation. I think that will turn out very badly for all, eventually including the SEC.

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  14. 79dawg

    LOL the former A&M President is now saying there was a “gentlemen’s agreement” when they joined the conference that any team would have the right to veto another team from their state joining the conference! The Mo-Rons are definitely bigger in Texas!

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