Whole lotta nothin’

I’m not sure who thought it was a good idea for the commissioners of the ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 to meet the press yesterday, because to say the end result was underwhelming is probably selling that term short.  For all the highfalutin jabbering, this would have sufficed instead.

That’s it.  That’s the Alliance (or ‘Alliance’, if you’re Dan Wetzel).

It was a presser that was longer on motive than substance.

“I wouldn’t say this is a reaction to Texas and Oklahoma joining the SEC,” Warren said, “but I think to be totally candid, you have to evaluate what’s going on in the landscape of college athletics. … This is a year for seismic shifts, and I think it’s really important to make sure that you are aware of all these different things going on, and make sure that from our individual conferences that we do all we can to make sure we protect our conferences and build strong relationships to make sure that we protect our student-athletes.”

When they say it’s not about the SEC, it’s about the SEC.  When they say it’s about doing it for the kids, it’s about the SEC.

It’s not a coincidence that trust became a key talking point among these three commissioners. The lack of trust that followed Texas and Oklahoma’s decision to join the SEC was the springboard for creating this alliance, and it’s the underlying reason why other leagues are not currently involved. Kliavkoff even joked that the information surrounding the the 12-team playoff expansion hasn’t changed since the idea was first floated, but “who knows about it has changed” — a not-so-subtle dig at SEC commissioner Greg Sankey, who helped design the format while also negotiating with Oklahoma and Texas.

Maybe they think peer pressure will get Sankey to reverse his expansion decision.

So where does this go?  Beats me.  I doubt the three commissioners and their 41 schools have the first clue.

But the bigger reason for the “gentleman’s agreement” is that no one really wants this to be formal. For one, the Alston case is at the forefront of everyone’s minds, and three conferences colluding on the future of the NCAA in any official capacity would be a big red flag with antitrust litigation looming. Moreover, there are 41 schools involved here, and putting any formal language together would likely create some dissent. If there’s no concrete language beyond a general agreement to keep talking, the support is unanimous. Once specific language is on a page and signatures get attached, the potential for blowback ratchets up a lot.

Is conference expansion off the table?  For the next fifteen minutes, anyway.  But let’s not forget we’re watching the Big Ten, which took Maryland off the ACC’s hands in its last round of expansion, singing in the kumbaya chorus.  I doubt these guys really trust each other that deeply; they just trust each other a little more than Greg Sankey.  Is it better to be trusted than feared?  Ask again after the next round of broadcast deals comes to light.

What about the 12-team playoff?

The most telling comment about the playoff came in a Zoom call the three commissioners had with ESPN after their news conference. “I think that people are really focused on being thoughtful, and very methodical in this issue,” Warren said. “So I know from where the Big Ten stands from is we’re still gathering information. We will be prepared by the time we walk into that meeting on Sept. 28. But I don’t think where we are with the turbulence that exists in college athletics. You know, anything as we go forward will be a rubber stamp, I think everyone is going to look through their decision-making process through critical eyes.”

“There still are some unanswered questions there,” Phillips said. “And that’s why I don’t think anybody could definitively say, ‘Hey, we’re ready to vote yes or no on it.'”

Translation:  fuck you, Sankey and ESPN, but, yeah, we’d like the money, anyway.


As Phillips said, “We are bullish on scheduling, as it will elevate the national profile of all of our teams by playing from coast to coast, with college fans across the country as the beneficiaries.” But as for a timeline … nobody was going there just yet. The truth is, we are going to have to potentially wait years for that to happen. First, all three commissioners were clear they are not going to tear up existing scheduling agreements. Because of the way nonconference scheduling is done, many schools are locked into games through at least the next five years.

“This is not about getting out of contracts and blowing anything up,” Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren said. “This is about honoring those existing contracts, but also building relationships between these three like-minded conferences, as we look forward from a scheduling standpoint to see if there’s opportunity to build unique games that will come together.

“We’re really at the beginning stages of this.”

The delicious part of this is that they’re clearly jockeying for a more attractive slate of games to sell to their broadcast partners, but, for example, the Pac-12 would have to convince ESPN that it’s a benefit to reduce the conference schedule by a game.

“To move to fewer games sooner than three years, we need to have partnership with ESPN and Fox to do that,” Kliavkoff said, “although I think there’s a compelling argument that the games we could replace those with if they were in the alliance would be very compelling and worth making that move sooner. We’ll work through that with our media partners and our alliance partners.”

If you think it’s going to be a little awkward to ask the same folks you’re crapping on in a very public way to ignore that and do you a large in the next minute… well, it’s not any more awkward than the ACC’s situation, which involves an exclusive deal with Mickey for the next fifteen years.

As I’ve said for a while, the issue isn’t that ESPN has just now made itself too big to be good for the sport.  It’s that they burrowed insidiously into the sport years ago and the Clampetts are coming to the realization — the late realization — that their options are restricted.

There is the spite, though.

And in the end this was all about trying to upset the SEC, which is persona non grata after adding Oklahoma and Texas, which is what the other three leagues wish they could have done.

Maybe they should go all in on this and take a pro wrestling approach to this whole Alliance vs. SEC thing.  It’s bound to be less of a bore than what they said yesterday.



Filed under ACC Football, Big Ten Football, Pac-12 Football, SEC Football

19 responses to “Whole lotta nothin’

  1. practicaldawg

    This feels like one of those Game of Thrones “alliances” that will last an episode or 2 until someone stabs someone in the back.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Hogbody Spradlin

    “I wouldn’t say this is a reaction to Texas and Oklahoma joining the SEC”
    I guess I’m not surprised, but still mildly dismayed, that another person with a microphone in front of them thinks their rhetoric can overcome the obvious truth.
    To put it another way: bullshit, it’s not just for politics anymore.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. akascuba

    The toothless alliance lasts until anyone of the three see an opportunity to increase their own revenue. Another example of sometimes it’s better to just say nothing.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. A perfect example of why I love your blog, Bluto. It’s not just a great source for Dawg news. Your analysis on broader issues in the college football is always a great read. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This whole thing is absolutely laughable now. If you don’t think Kevin Warren and the B1G was the architect of this because of their hurt fee-fees, I have some beautiful waterfront property in Hahira to sell you.

    Greg Sankey channels his inner Nature Boy after the “alliance” press conference:


  6. Totally agree…I’ve thought this alliance was bluster and puffery and would be held together with bailing wire and dental floss…I was wrong, that would be more secure…this is as fragile as a soap bubble…it really doesn’t even exist, there really is no alliance…none with teeth, or contracts, or merit

    Liked by 2 people

  7. W Cobb Dawg

    What could they possibly do? Something like a big kick-off classic matchup has already been done by Chick-fil-a and others. Major in-season matches at neutral sites are already done in Jax and Tex/Ok. The only interesting Rose Bowls in recent years involved us and the national championship game, not runnerups from the Big 10 and Pac.

    There’s more than a few teams in those conferences that generate even less interest than the scraps of the Big 12 (looking at you Rutgers, Wake and Washington State – though you’re far from alone).

    The only option for more $$ is playoff expansion. These conference commissioners should sign up and go back to bed.


  8. Coming to you live from Las Vegas, it’s Tuesday Night Alliance football featuring Rutgers and Oregon State on the Pac12 Channel! Hello friends, we’re glad both of you could join us to watch…

    Liked by 5 people

  9. ASEF

    “We get paid a lot of money to run our conferences. So, we have to look like we’re earning it. Ergo, press concurrence where we throw around the usual buzzwords and look somber.”

    Their audience yesterday was their 41 university presidents and ADs. 36 of which are wondering if they’re just the next Texas Tech and K-State.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Corch Irvin Meyers, Former Jags Corch (2024)

    What’s hilarious to me, more than anything, is the B1G and Pac-12 are about to give up their vaunted 9th conference game while the SEC is almost certain to add a 9th conference game (maybe going all the way to 10!). All so Tosu can schedule a game with Wake Forest or Arizona.

    Yep. Talk about cutting off your nose to spite the SEC (and ESPN).

    Liked by 1 person

    • 79dawg

      After cutting off their noses to spite their face, they are cutting off their dicks to spite themselves if they turn down the money from expanding the CFP to 12….


  11. Russ

    I was reading Emerson’s article about the Spiteful 3 yesterday on The Athletic and the comments were hilarious. So many butt-hurt Big Televenteen fans we just whining about anything and everything to do with the south and the SEC. It was both funny and sad to see.


  12. signaldawg

    I’m now waiting for the SEC and Big XII to announce they are forming an alliance, just to shit on the ‘Alliance.’ That would be hilarious. The SEC has already destroyed the Big XII by taking TX and OK, so just finish the deal by making an agreement to absorb the rest of the Big XII in five years or so. Give their commish a nice buyout and let him ride off into the sunset. SEC forms the first Mega conference and gets some pretty good teams (especially in basketball) along with the deal. I wouldn’t want this to happen and I doubt it ever would, but it would be funny to see the other conferences squirm.


    • 79dawg

      Query: whither the existing SEC-Big XII deal for the Sugar Bowl??? Have not seen that discussed anywhere…


    • stoopnagle

      If we have to add and we can’t have FSU, Clemson, UNC, and VaTech; then I’ll take KU just to give someone for Mizzou to pal around with. LOL.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Whiskey Dawg

    3 blind mice……

    Liked by 1 person

  14. rigger92

    I either can’t figure it out, or this whole thing is so dumb it’s beyond me.

    The best thing the big ten can really do is make Michigan and StatePenn relevant again in football. Kevin Warren needs to put pressure on his conference members to up their game. The ACC commish needs to put pressure on FSU and Miami. I guess the only pressure that the commissioners have is money, so make it real. Withhold money from them if they under perform.


  15. stoopnagle

    This is so dumb.

    Anyway, the best part is the talk about going back to 8 games. If they do that, what are all those B1G keyboard warriors going to do? LOL.