Category Archives: Pac-12 Football

An Alliance, if you can keep it

So, Jed and Jed and Jed are about to make a Big Announcement.

The ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 are set to formally announce an alliance, which pending final approvals could come as early as Tuesday, sources told Yahoo Sports. The Athletic first reported the possibility of an announcement this week.

The Alliance will center on a shared vision for the future governance of college athletics. For now, the Alliance will mean the three leagues can, among other things, form a voting block that will blunt the growing influence of an expanded SEC. It also allows three leagues that consider themselves like-minded to gain voting power on issues as the NCAA’s influence diminishes.

Can you feel the excitement?

On the scheduling front, the idea is that each football team in the three conferences would play one opponent from each of the other two leagues on an annual basis.  Sounds great, until you get into the details.  The Big Ten and Pac-12 would evidently reduce their conference schedules from nine to eight in order to accommodate this.  (The ACC is already at eight.) Notre Dame would count as an ACC team for this purpose.  Even taking all of that into account, it seems like a bunch of guaranteed games would need to be bought out to make the numbers work.  That ain’t gonna happen, so shrinking conference schedules is really the only way in the short term to open up inventory for the Alliance.

Ah, but the spite!

The new scheduling should create additional marquee games and perhaps increased television money, while potentially squeezing the SEC in non-conference scheduling.

Four ACC teams have annual games with in-state SEC rivals — Clemson-South Carolina, Georgia Tech-Georgia, Florida State-Florida and Louisville-Kentucky. Those games would continue, but there would be a decided lack of available non-conference dates for other SEC teams seeking major opponents.

Somehow, I don’t think Greg Sankey is losing any sleep over that possibility.  As I’ve said before, I’ll wait to see which Alliance school is the first to turn down a $5 million pay day to face ‘Bama in a neutral site opener.  Besides, if the SEC needs more big games, it can always increase the conference schedule; that’s what adding Oklahoma and Texas gives you.

What’s striking to me here is while the Alliance purports to be wary of ESPN’s influence, it’s adopting the exact approach Mickey already embraced that’s likely to diminish traditional passions for college football.  Dropping a conference game so that Oregon State can face Georgia Tech is the kind of swapping regionalism for national appeal that ESPN has openly pushed since the CFP came into existence.  Sure, there’s a shiny toy aspect to it that will drum up appeal in the short run, but it won’t take long for the viewing public to look for newer, shinier toys.

And that’s the thing.  If you’re hungry for a national appeal for college football, the NFL is already there for you and will likely do a better job of it.

The irony here is that the SEC, whether it’s forced into it by the other three P5s or willingly accepts it, is looking like it will be the last regional holdout.  My bet is that five to ten years from now, the Alliance is going to be comparing broadcast ratings between them and the SEC and wondering what went wrong.

As far as the rest goes, well, if the Alliance is that hung up about ESPN that they’re willing to forego playoff expansion for another few years, more power to them.  It’s not as if the SEC is going to be shut out.  And such a power play isn’t likely to win the three of them many friends between the G5 and Notre Dame.

You’ll notice I didn’t mention the Big 12 there.  That’s because the one thing it appears the Alliance will accomplish in the short run is to kill the Big 12 off for good.  The only question is how long Bowlsby’s conference clings to OU and UT to stave off complete collapse before 2025.  Enjoy it while it lasts, fellas.

In the meantime,

When they say it isn’t about the money…

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

When they tell you it’s not about the spite…

These Alliance people sound like a bunch of arrogant fucks.

“The Big Ten, ACC and Pac-12 all sponsor a lot of sports. We all celebrated our Olympians,” the administrator said. “The SEC is so football-dominant. Their philosophy is not on the same page.”

Kinda reminds me of the time Jim Delany waxed patronizing about the SEC.

(By the way, the SEC won more medals at this past Olympics than the Big Ten and ACC.)

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

The Alliance of Horseshit

Wheels.  Are.  Turning.  ($$)

The Big Ten, Pac-12 and ACC are expected to make a formal announcement about their alignment soon, perhaps as early as next week, multiple sources told The Athletic. It’s not yet clear how specific the announcement will be because there are so many details to iron out, although administrators in all three leagues have stressed in recent conversations that issues of governance can and should be front and center.

Schools within the three conferences believe they are like-minded, that they want to continue to prioritize broad-based sports offerings and that the academic profile of their institutions matters — as does graduating athletes.

Yeah, when in doubt, say you’re doing it for the kids.  Even when it’s more about spite.

There is hope within all three leagues that their commissioners will align to delay the implementation of an expanded College Football Playoff. Athletic directors in all three leagues have expressed concerns over the composition of the four-member working group that proposed the 12-team format and treated it as an inevitability without hearing from any representatives of the three leagues.

Hey, if the Pac-12 is principled enough to walk away from a 12-team CFP format, more power to ’em.  It still doesn’t change that had Oklahoma and Texas approached one of them first, they’d have done the exact same thing Sankey did.

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

Like shooting hypocrites in a barrel

The problem with throwing shade at Greg Sankey is that every P5 conference lives in a glass house ($$).

For about a month, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey has listened to the wide range of reactions to his conference’s impending expansion, the most pointed being Washington State president Kirk Schulz’s referring to the SEC as “predatory.”

Now Sankey has a response.

“I certainly like the president at Washington State,” Sankey told The Athletic. “I think he’s forgotten that in 2010 the conference in which he currently resides recruited half of the Big 12 members to join its league.”

Ummm… he didn’t forget.  He was hoping nobody would notice.

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Filed under Pac-12 Football, SEC Football

Andy Staples’ Four Million Club

Today, he delves ($$) into why the ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 are chasing an alliance of some sort.  His theory is both obvious and questionable.

… if the plan includes a scheduling alliance to create more games in the Four Million Club for each league, then it could be a valuable partnership for all of them. It also could benefit the viewers by giving us more interesting games to watch.

What’s the Four Million Club? It’s the group of football games that draw more than four million viewers.

These are the games networks are willing to pay premium prices for, and they’re also the type of games the SEC’s addition of Oklahoma and Texas will add to that league’s inventory. In conversations with television executives and consultants, conference officials and athletic directors, it has become clear that the hunt for premium television product will drive this round of realignment (or, in the case of the alliance, rearranging).

Here’s the list of the teams that played in at least ten regular season games from 2015 to 2019 that have topped four million viewers.

That certainly explains the last two SEC expansion moves.  It might even explain why the Big Ten wants an alliance.

… by creating a few more with the help of some friends, the Big Ten could stay relatively even and continue to distribute as much or more to each school as the SEC will once Oklahoma and Texas join and a new ESPN deal replaces the below-market deal CBS enjoys for the best SEC game each week.

On the surface, that seems plausible, but again, the devil’s in the details.  How much of the public is jonesing for, say, a Rutgers-Washington State showdown?  And what games are the Big Ten willing to jettison to make that happen?

I see that list and think the more efficient move for the Big Ten would be to eliminate the middleman and just go for a Big Ten-SEC Challenge.  Or just say the hell with it and go for a super-conference model that ditches every weak scheduling link in every P5 conference.

There just isn’t enough there there in this alliance proposal.  But I bet it makes a lot of folks feel good to discuss it.

***********************************************************************

UPDATE:

One thing I will say in defense of Mike Slive and his relatively poor record handling the conference’s broadcast rights is that he saw the promotional value of the SEC on CBS deal.

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

Not the sales pitch you think it is

Dennis Dodd sounds positively giddy about the three-headed alliance of the ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12.  Just imagine the possibilities!

While the Big Ten, ACC and Pac-12 would improve their nonconference schedules with an alliance, they could take it a step further by refusing to play the top eight teams in the SEC. Hey, TV networks, forget Florida-Florida State, we’ll raise you Ohio State-USC.

Jesus, these people are stupid.

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Filed under ACC Football, Big Ten Football, Media Punditry/Foibles, Pac-12 Football, SEC Football

The Jed Clampett Alliance

Sooooo… this dropped last night.

The Pac-12, Big Ten and ACC have had preliminary discussions about forming an alliance, likely built around scheduling but possibly other areas, sources told ESPN.

Commissioners George Kliavkoff (Pac-12), Kevin Warren (Big Ten) and Jim Phillips (ACC) have been in regular communication, and have also had some in-person discussions. Kliavkoff and Warren were together this week for Rose Bowl meetings. Pac-12 sources said all three commissioners met last week in Chicago.

“I’ve been in frequent and regular contact with all of the other A5 commissioners the last few weeks about the four or five complex issues that are facing our industry,” Kliavkoff told ESPN on Friday night. “Anything beyond that is just speculation, and I can’t comment on it.”

Needless to say, social media was en fuego over the news.  Plenty of spicy takes and rampant speculation.  Do I have thoughts?  Of course I do!

The underlying motive — “that bastard Sankey… we’ve got to do something to respond!” — is easy to understand.  It’s the end game that’s murky.

Athletic directors in two of the leagues discussing an alliance told ESPN that nonconference scheduling likely would be the focus, but that there aren’t many details yet. The SEC’s addition of Texas and Oklahoma, plus commissioner Greg Sankey’s involvement in proposing a 12-team expanded College Football Playoff model, has been seen as an attempt to consolidate power.

“There is some alignment in us against them a little bit,” a Power 5 athletic director said.

Yeah, that’s a pretty good summary in three sentences.  Now, on to the bullet points:

  • First of all, the hypocrisy is pretty thick here, at least as it pertains to the SEC’s power grab.  Colorado was poached from the Big 12 by the Pac-12.  Maryland was taken from the ACC by the Big Ten.  Hell, the ACC basically destroyed the Big East when it expanded.  So you’ll have to forgive me if I’m not totally moved by the bridge too far attitude on display here.  There isn’t a single one of these three conferences that wouldn’t have welcomed Oklahoma and Texas with open arms, given the opportunity.
  • Second, and this is where the murk starts to seep in, is how this move is seen as some sort of resistance to ESPN’s power, particularly as it relates to the broadcast rights to an expanded CFP.  Skipping past the hilarity of the light bulbs suddenly going off over the heads of the three commissioners after years and years of evidence of Mickey’s power, the way to make that work is to hold the four-team field in place until the current contract expires in 2026.  That’s something the Ohio State-led Big Ten and the Clemson-led ACC can live with, but is the Pac-12 really prepared to remain irrelevant in the postseason for another five years?  That’s quite the sacrifice for the greater good.
  • The scheduling aspect of this had all the usual suspects excited:  a Big Ten-ACC Challenge!  Clemson-Southern Cal, baby!  Eh, the high end matchups are the easy part.  In fact, college football has already shown over the past couple of years that you don’t need an alliance to schedule high profile non-conference games.
  • The tough part of this comes when you have to rearrange many things to get that Georgia Tech-Washington State game that the viewing public so badly craves.  Let’s assume the three conferences agree for each of their teams to play a game against a team in each of the other two.  What existing games are going to be sacrificed?  Does the Pac-12 drop its ninth conference game?  Do the three ACC teams that play state rivalry games against SEC schools ditch those?  How much in buyout fees of guarantee games do these schools pay?
  • The ironic and depressing thing here is that in one breath these three conferences want to resist ESPN’s vision for the sport while in the next reduce their reliance on regionalism in embracing a more national approach for viewership, which is precisely what the network’s approach has been since the four-team CFP has come into being.  It’s as unsurprising as it is shortsighted.
  • Oh, and as if we didn’t already know, the Big 12 is well and truly fucked.  Kliavkoff meeting with Bowlsby while secretly meeting with the other two P5 counterparts is a page out of the same playbook Sankey ran.  If Bowlsby’s schools weren’t already looking for a way off the boat, they’re surely scrambling to find the life rafts now.

Bottom line, I’m not sure why an alliance of sorts is necessary.  If the goal is to thwart ESPN, all you need for that is a voting bloc that is big enough to outvote the SEC in order to control the outcome.  (Though it’s worth considering that there’s nothing about this alliance that’s attractive for Notre Dame or the G5 conferences, both of which have as much to gain from a 12-team CFP as does the Pac-12.)  There’s also nothing about this that’s going to reduce the SEC’s cash flow after it grows to 16.

As far as a scheduling alliance goes, that only works if…

Needless to say, I don’t think Greg Sankey lost any sleep last night.

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Filed under ACC Football, BCS/Playoffs, Big 12 Football, Big Ten Football, Pac-12 Football, SEC Football

They got nothin’.

As a follow up to the previous post, check out two quotes from Washington State’s President Kirk Schulz.

“What the SEC has done is unify the other conferences in a way that nothing else could have, in terms of working together,” Schulz told the Hotline.

“A lot of people now are very concerned about the predatory nature of the SEC. More presidents are talking. There’s a lot of back and forth.”

Unified!  Predatory!  Heavy shit, but what exactly does it call for?

“After the Texas and Oklahoma news, there was some pushback and some thought that maybe we don’t need to expand. But the CFP still needs to expand to create more opportunities for more teams. There is more opportunity for Pac-12 schools with expansion with 12 teams than with four. Does it need tweaking? Perhaps. But I think there’s broad consensus that we need to move forward.

“I haven’t heard anyone in the Pac-12 footprint who thinks we shouldn’t expand. Look at small-market schools like Washington State and that year we had with Gardner Minshew. What’s our best shot to take advantage of a magical year like that? It’s an expanded playoff.”

Yeah, that’s what I thought.

In passing, here’s one last point:

Of course they do.

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Filed under BCS/Playoffs, Pac-12 Football, SEC Football

TFW they expect you to do something

Shot.

Chaser.

I’m sure this will work out just fine.

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Filed under Big 12 Football, Pac-12 Football

Location, location, location

Nailing down that coveted 11PM East Coast viewing window:

When all you’ve got to sell the networks is geography, you ain’t got much to sell.

By the way, you’re new here, George, so I’ll cut you some slack, but you might want to check with the Mountain West on that “the only conference” claim.

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Filed under Pac-12 Football