Saturday, August 20, 2022
B1G Step-Up Calls For Action Nationwide
The Big Ten dropped a shocker when it announced that USC and UCLA (unless the board of trustees in California lose their minds) would become members.
They dropped another massive one this week that should have commissioners all over the country immediately strategizing.
The Big Ten's move to land deals with FOX, CBS, and NBC to cover their games was Kevin Warren's most successful moment yet as commissioner. It was an incredible move that provided the Big Ten with their first real win over the SEC in quite some time.
USC/UCLA was a solid move, but Texas/Oklahoma was just as quality a move, and in football alone, where realignment decisions matter, the SEC's move has the edge. But in the matter of television rights, this is a major triumph for Warren and the Big Ten, who need the extra money for NIL deals and facility upgrades to try and lure the nation's best recruits into coming up north for their collegiate days.
Credit to Warren for pulling it off. At the start of this year, his tenure as commissioner hadn't been all that impressive. His attempted power move to cancel the 2020 football season was a massive failure that imploded right in his face. He was caught flat-footed (like everyone else) when OU and Texas made their move and it seemed like he was always playing catch-up. He's now seemed to catch up and is pulling power back north from the iron-clad grasp of the SEC (even if they failed again to lure Notre Dame into their league).
So, the time for the Big 12 and Pac-12 to act has never been more urgent than right now.
The SEC's contract is set. Yes, it'll be smaller than the Big Ten, but their facilities and success over the last two decades will keep them more than relevant to recruits. Where they need to be focused is having a list of potential expansion teams, should the Big Ten make another move to get to 20. One thing the SEC can't do is let the Big Ten invade their footprint, so they need to be working well behind the scenes to defend their turf.
The ACC needs to do the same, especially as both the SEC and Big Ten will be eyeing their teams. They need to have a list ready to go and look at potential suitors. Obviously, they could turn to the Big 12, where West Virginia and Cincinnati could be targets. If they want to cement their basketball legacy, maybe they should take a look at UConn, whose football is lacking, but basketball is strong and whose market would be a nice pickup and be close enough to poach some more TV sets out of New York City.
The Big 12, soon to be Longhorn-free, needs to expand aggressively and create a conference network immediately; the latter being the catalyst for the former. Given the failure that the Pac-12 Network has been, a successful Big 12 network could win a lot of teams over. If I was Brett Yormark, I'd call CBS and see if they'd be willing to play in the conference network game, given ESPN and Fox have two apiece (and ESPN has the Longhorn Network, as well). I'd use it to see if CBS would be willing to make a Saturday night slot for the Big 12 (since the Big Ten will take the coveted 2:30 slot) and get more eyes on their league.
Whoever acts the fastest between the Big 12 and Pac-12 likely keeps their conference intact. The slowest draw will be cleaned out fairly well.
The Pac-12 should also go ahead and invite Nevada and UNLV, even if UCLA is forced to stay. Las Vegas isn't Los Angeles in terms of TV markets, but it'd be a major feather in their cap and something that they should move on quickly. If the Pac-12 continues to sit on the teams they have, they'll be on shaky ground. They need to show the country (and their own members) that they're in the business of growing, not stagnation. And Las Vegas will provide NIL deals and money that few metro areas could.
Never has the future of college football been up in the air. We're talking about more realignment, about the Power Five leaving the NCAA in football, about a NIL atmosphere that has no restrictions and media deals that are consistently shaking the power balance in collegiate sports. It's a time of great intrigue and interest, besides the action on the field. In this chaotic chess game, who will stay a few steps ahead? Whoever does will write the next chapters of football's history. Whoever doesn't, simply will become it.