Category Archives: College Football

You can’t stop conference expansion. You can only hope to contain it.

Berry Tramel asks a series of reasonable questions about why the fevered pitch over Oklahoma President David Boren’s suggestion that the Big 12 needs to be considering expanding to twelve schools.

Why? Why does the Big 12 have to flounder with only 10 schools? That’s not a rhetorical question. That’s not me being sarcastic, trying to make a case against expansion. It’s a legitimate question.

Why can’t the Big 12 thrive with 10 schools? What would two schools add, especially two imperfect-fit schools, which are the only kind available at the moment? Again, dead-serious question. What would 12 provide that 10 doesn’t?

He explores various answers to the questions and finds most of them come up lacking.  (Not that that’s hard to do when this is what the current expansion pool looks like:  “As many as nine schools have been mentioned as Big 12 expansion targets. Western independent Brigham Young. Boise State and Colorado State from the Mountain West Conference. Cincinnati, Memphis, Connecticut, South Florida, Central Florida and Houston from the American Conference.”)

But the reality is not that.  It’s about eat or be eaten. It’s what Todd Berry, the incoming president of American Football Coaches Association, describes here, in response to a question about whether more conference expansion is coming:

“I think that there will be. I don’t think there’s any question that right now with power 5 autonomy it is going to drive some very, very interesting things over the next several years for all of college football. When you start looking at the amount of money that’s being generated by the playoff, and more than likely we’ll see the playoff expand, I would assume, just because there’s more money out there to be had. That’s kind of what’s driving this thing. The conference commissioners, I think in particular, are really, really in control of college football. There was a time frame when the presidents decided they wanted to take it over, then they kind of punted and the ADs took over. Now the conference commissioners are really driving the bus. So yeah, I think there’s going to be another wave (of realignment.) I think that those people that are in preparation for that that are being a bit more proactive are in a lot better position. Now obviously the power 5 is going to be what it is, but I think there’s going to be members of the group of 5 that are going to try and make that jump and make that transition that are going to be appealing to power 5 schools. If this thing does eventually end up being a new classification, which I think it probably will be, there’s some teams in the group of 5 that are probably in the mix and deserving and have the financial resources to be able to make a push along those lines. So yeah, I think we’re probably in that mode right now where everybody’s in that posturing mode like they were five years ago when all of a sudden this thing started shaking up a little bit.”  [Emphasis added.]

The presidents have abdicated their role in the process because it’s all about the money now and the conference commissioners are less burdened by non-monetary considerations than they are.  Just remember that the next time one of them starts bleating about making sure that a school is an academic match for an expanding conference.  (Let’s not forget that West Virginia was the last school admitted to Boren’s conference.)  Because that’s nothing more than an irrelevant sideshow.  The SEC Network ain’t broadcasting history classes, peeps.


Filed under College Football, It's Just Bidness

Now they’re worried about tradition.

Chris Low, I presume you mean well with this post, but the concept of the entity whose spending has done more to disrupt the face of college football over the last decade being concerned about preserving its traditions strikes me as one of the more ironic, horse-out-of-the-barn notions Mickey’s minions could offer these days.

Thanks for the chuckle, though.


Filed under College Football, ESPN Is The Devil

They gave you the best years of their lives, Mickey.

Brian Cook looks at my recent post about ESPN’s future in an unbundled world, takes an inferred point from my post and makes it quite specific:

ESPN is currently subsidized by a lot of people who do not care about sports. When the internet is television, that goes away—and it does not necessarily get replaced one for one.

This is why adding Maryland and especially Rutgers was folly. In the near future the only people who get the Big Ten Network are going to be people interested in the Big Ten. They will no longer be able to snatch a dollar from the pocket of every cable subscriber in New Jersey who is a Tulane man. This is going to happen in ten years, at which point whatever short-term revenue gain will be spent, Jim Delany will have his bonus, and the Big Ten will be stuck with a couple of teams nobody cares about.

It’s not just the Big Ten, and it’s not just being stuck with the aftermath of making questionable expansion decisions.  Every P5 conference is guilty of the latter and the Pac-12 is even more heavily invested in its broadcast network than Delany’s conference is.  What do these guys prepare for when their business model is blown to the skies?

Judging from their track record, we won’t find out the answer to that question until it’s already happened.


Filed under College Football, ESPN Is The Devil, It's Just Bidness

The cheaper the crook, the gaudier the patter.

Bruce Feldman has an interesting Q&A with Justine Gubar, a journalist at ESPN, who authored a book about fan behavior in the social media era.

We live in a world where it’s easier than ever to be an anonymous flaming asshole, so it’s no real surprise that collegiate sports isn’t an exception.  Still, some of what Gubar relates is unsettling.

Q: What’s the most appalling thing you learned about online fanaticism while working on your book?

Gubar: The graphic rape and death threats uniquely experienced by women. Fans go after women in really disturbing ways. The OSU fans were angry about the stories I was pursuing yet they uniformly singled out my appearance in their insults. I’m not sure what one had to do with another. Look at the hideous reaction directed at movie star and Kentucky hoops fan Ashley Judd for comments she made during this year’s NCAA Final Four tournament. Read what Judd had to say about her experience here.

Trolling and internet machismo.  The weird thing is the belief that these kind of people have that they’re able to change the story if they’re only persistent enough.

Q: Last year there was a lot of talk about #FSUTwitter and its role in trying to deter media from how it covered the Seminoles’ off-field issues. How closely did you follow FSU Twitter’s response to the Jameis Winston coverage? What was your reaction?

Gubar: I saw several of my ESPN colleagues as well as journalists from other entities endure heavy harassment for their reporting. I guess I was sort of amused because I don’t know many journalists who would back down from their reporting because of anonymous strangers lobbing childish insults at them. Yes, the trolling is disturbing and it can be a burden to put in the effort to avoid the stream of nastiness, but often the defensiveness of fans is a telltale sign for reporters that this is a story that needs to be followed up on.

Pathetic.  The cliché about some folks needing to get a life may be just that, but it doesn’t make it any less true.


Filed under College Football, Social Media Is The Devil's Playground

The only thing worse than playing a few extra bowl games…

… is not playing them.


Filed under College Football

And I will strike down with great vengeance…

I don’t know if the football gods are trying to send a message with this, but I were, say, Steve Patterson, I might want to make sure my insurance premiums are paid in full.

Just sayin’.


Filed under College Football

There are only so many games to go around.

David Wonderlich surveys the field and concludes that we may be on the verge of seeing the guarantees paid for cupcake games stalling, or even coming down.  They’ve got a pretty tall perch to fall from, that’s for sure.

The site broke the news last week that Alabama lined up Fresno for a game in 2017. Bama will pay out $1.4 million for the game, which is about the going rate for MWC teams these days. Alabama payed $1.5 million to Colorado State in 2013, while Auburn’s 2014 and 2015 games against San Jose State cost $1.5 million and $1.6 million, respectively. Other leagues can still cost a lot too. Southern Miss got $1.4 million from Alabama last year, while Florida paid $1 million to ULL and $1.25 million to Bowling Green in 2012. These games are getting expensive.

As he points out, it’s just as easy for a P5 school to beat a FCS opponent as it is a mid-major, and a heckuva lot cheaper.  The problem with that approach these days, as Baylor can attest, is that a school runs the risk of a scheduling downgrade by the selection committee come playoff time.  So that’s helping to drive up the cost of mid-majors’ guarantee fees in the current market.

But as he goes on to note, there are trends going the other way now, as conferences, again with the national playoffs in mind, are beginning to dictate that their member schools play at least one OOC game against a P5 team.  Add to that conferences that are going to nine-game conference schedules and you begin to see how the market is slowly moving from a seller’s one to a buyer’s one.

David writes, “With a noticeable drop in demand, simple economics would predict a fall in prices.”  We all know that college football and simple economics don’t always fit together, but I think there’s something to this.  Especially if you believe, as I do, that two more things will come:  (1) playoff expansion and (2) conference expansion.  The one benefit, if you want to call it that, to diluting the importance of the regular season with an enlarged postseason is that there’s less risk involved in beefing up the schedule.  And when the P5s add their sixteenth members (or the Big 12 matches up with its name), conference schedules will have to grow to accommodate that.

Long term, the math may not be too daunting in terms of how much schools  are willing to shell out for a game.  There’s so much money now, they can afford it.  But it’s the total number of cupcake games they buy that will likely really drop.

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Filed under College Football