What cracks me up the most about what’s gone down since word came out about Oklahoma and Texas gutting the Big 12 is how people who know better are trying to present facts of the past week as somehow particularly revelatory about the way college football is run, when, in fact, they’re nothing more than the same old, same old. I mean, gee, are we supposed to pretend that ESPN’s behind the scenes machinations are a new thing?
And the messiness that came out of the Bowlsby Bomb neatly summed up the fraught landscape in college athletics. One athletic director summed it up this way Wednesday: “This has created a lot more mistrust, a lot more dissension and a lot more hard feelings. If anything, that to me is why [the expansion to a 12-team playoff] slows down.”
Added another: “Most everyone in college athletics outside the SEC is mad as hell. This is a black mark on the enterprise … federal intervention may be the last resort to save us from ourselves.”
Chimed in another longtime college official: “An industry destined to blow itself up.”
Oh, boo fucking hoo. You know what the real issue is? In an industry full of Jed Clampetts, Greg Sankey wound up exercising a little more foresight than his peers. And they can’t handle the aftermath.
With the SEC preparing to add Texas and Oklahoma, attention shifts to the three options at hand for each of the remaining Power Five conferences:
- Expand in an attempt to keep pace with the SEC from a competitive and financial perspective, with each move triggering a series of corresponding moves across the entire Football Bowl Subdivision;
- Stand pat and batten down the hatches in an effort to prevent other conferences from raiding or poaching teams from its current lineup of members;
- Or, in the case of one league in particular, decide whether to remain a conference altogether.
Myerberg puts his finger on the source of their dilemma, at least in the immediate term.
… the genuine lack of productive expansion targets outside of current members of Power Five conferences and a small handful of teams playing in the Group of Five. Even in that case, options left behind by the Big 12, for example, simply don’t move the needle for the ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12.
Every other member of the P5 needs to expand, but where do they go for that? No other football program out there brings the cachet of a Texas or Oklahoma, at least if no P5 actor wants to go on an outright raid of another conference’s schools. Sankey, to his credit, shrewdly read the room, took full advantage of it to land his big fish and left everyone else scrambling to escape the wreckage. (Yes, with a little help from Mickey.)
It’s not any better in the intermediate term, either.
Another is the possibility that the SEC isn’t done yet, and if so whether there is anything another conference can do to hold down the fort should one of its schools be extended an invitation — especially with the SEC on a path to rake in $1.3 billion in revenue during the 2024-25 fiscal year with the addition of the Longhorns and the Sooners.
The answer is no for the ACC and Pac-12 because the money isn’t there. The Big Ten is probably in a better place in that regard. There’s no reason to even bring up the Big 12 in the discussion. That is what Sankey hath wrought.
I’m not saying he’s a genius, but in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king and Greg Sankey has that one eye.