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College Football Is About to Change Forever

Updated: Jul 6, 2023

The Future NCAA Football Conference Realignment

Your College Football world is about to change. I don't know if it will happen in 2024 or 2028, but sometime in the next five years I think the fundamental structure of college football is going to shift from five power conferences to three super/ mega conferences.

In this perspective, the Big 12 Commissioner, Brett Yormark, is going to mount the counterrevolution to the raiders of the SEC and Big Ten. I invite to join me on my journey of the future of College Football. Yes, I know it won't play out exactly like this, but I this this is a very plausible path; and I will describe why.

Step 1- The Pac 12 is Raided (2023)

This might happen as soon as this week but might take a couple of months too. To be honest, I think the media is framing what the Pac 12 institutions are doing right now incorrectly. The administrators at the various schools KNOW what the best media rights deal that Pac 12 Commissioner, George Kliavkoff, has been able to negotiate. It is NOT good enough. They each have told him to fix it and make it better. Some want more access (not a majority of streaming) and ALL of them want more money. The problem is there is no limited streaming deal that will meet the conference member's needs.

Colorado and Arizona have been most vocal about their willingness to leave if the media rights deal is not good enough. I believe they have given the Pac 12 a deadline- most likely before they leave for the summer break- to produce a final offer. Everyone knows it won't be good enough, and THAT is why the messaging tone has changed.

What is going to happen? This almost feels like a scripted Broadway play.

  • Colorado and Arizona will announce they plan to leave in 2024 for the Big 12 VERY soon. I further break down all of the Big 12 options in the attached.

The Big Ten will execute what has been their plan for a while.

  • USC and UCLA were never going to be the ONLY Pac 12 teams to join the Big Ten. They will just be the only two that join at a full share.

  • Washington, Oregon, Stanford, and California all leave for Big Ten at reduced shares which will STILL be 20% to 50% higher than their media rights in the Pac 12 would have been.

  • The Big Ten will then have 20 members

The Pac 12 goes into survival mode with four members left

  • The schools that are willing to go full streaming with Apple.

  • The conference adds San Diego St. and SMU and two others. Despite protests otherwise, I think they add Fresno St. and Boise St., but that could be wrong.

  • They agree to a short term 2–3-year deal.

  • The survival focus will be to get into the 12-team playoff and the revenue from that.

Step 2- The Big 12 Starts to Mount a Counterrevolution (2024-2025)

Things MAY seem to be quiet in 2024 and 2025, but I think the Big 12 will make some quiet moves on the football AND basketball fronts which might be confusing and seem inconsequential. Trust Brett Yormark. He will be working on a much bigger strategy.

Strategy Elements

  1. Watch Pac 12 Fail and NEED a financial lifeline.

  2. Build THE National Preeminent Basketball Brand from Coast to Coast

  3. Present the Big 12 as a viable and preferable option for the NON "Magnificent 7" members of the ACC

  4. Partner a framework with ESPN to incorporate their current agreements with the ACC into the new framework with a new MEGA conference entity that Yormark will be building.

    1. The ACC contract will cover the new Eastern part of the MEGA conference.

    2. The Big 12 contract will cover the new Western part of the MEGA conference.

    3. A separate contract will be negotiated for the basketball media rights.

    4. ESPN, Big 12 (rebranded as the MEGA Conference), and the Magnificent 7 will view this as a win, win, win

    5. This MIGHT be happening right now, and NO ONE is allowed to discuss it.

"Small" Visible moves in 2024-2025

  • Big 12 adds Tulane and Connecticut- media surprised that ESPN agrees to full share for both- you now understand the bigger situation brewing.

  • Big 12 and ESPN make Streaming access to games easier and more cost effective

  • Big 12 adds basketball only members

    • Gonzaga is expected now.

    • Pay attention to other possibilities

      • Another west coast member

      • Two or more east coast members

      • Two or more Midwest members

"Bigger" News Items

  • Big 12 and Pac 12 discuss merger

  • ACC Members Pitt, Louisville, Wake Forest, Syracuse, Georgia Tech, and Boston College hold secret meetings with Big 12 on long term opportunities.

Step 3- ACC Announces Agreement with ESPN to Allow Members to Join SEC and Big Ten

No one will understand why ESPN is doing this. The SEC and Big Ten will make financial concessions to facilitate it too.

A Super majority of the ACC will vote for this. EIGHT Members will leave for the SEC and Big Ten. My Guess is that this will be in effect for the 2027 season or whenever the very short-term Pac 12 deal expires. (More on that later.)

Big Ten- Miami, North Carolina, and Duke

SEC- Clemson, Florida State, North Carolina State, Virginia, and Virginia Tech

I believe at this point the SEC will also raid the Big 12 to get Oklahoma State. They will see the addition as additive for Bedlam.

The Big Ten will also use this news as the opportunity to finally land Notre Dame as a member. Notre Dame's media right deal expires after the 2025 season. Could NBC green light Notre Dame to the Big Ten with some sort of agreement with the Big Ten? I say yes. After a couple of seasons of missing the playoff and more importantly playoff money, the Irish will be incentivized to join the Big Ten. The ACC implosion will release Notre Dame from ACC exclusivity rights.

Here is what the SEC and Big Ten will look like after these moves.

Within a week there will be another announcement.

Step 4- The MEGA Conference is Formed

The World is SHOCKED with a SUDDEN and MASSIVE SHAKE-Up in the structure of college conferences for Football and Basketball. THIS will be the counterrevolution. The news release will read like this:

"Big 12 Announces Merger with Remaining Pac 12 and ACC Conference Team to Form the MEGA Conference."

This means this football conference would be a whopping 30 members.

In addition, the Big 12 will formally add the six (my guesses are shown) basketball members and play in regional pods with one basketball only member in each pod. This is what I think the structure COULD look like.

As I discussed upfront, I think Yormark will negotiate this entire arrangement with media partners that trust him.

  • The ACC contract will cover the new Eastern part of the MEGA conference. The ACC Network will be rebranded as the MEGA Network.

  • The Big 12 contract will cover the new Western part of the MEGA conference. Since this contract is both with ESPN and Fox, it was important to have Boise St., SMU, San Diego St., and Fresno St. to first join the Pac 12 to force execution of the pro rata clause.

  • A separate contract will be negotiated for the basketball media rights. The selection of basketball only members will be critical.

The formation of this MEGA conference would be fascinating. In a world of the two super conferences will anyone care what happens in the MEGA conference? How do they even get viewers on TV?

  • Expect creative scheduling- games on Thursday, Friday, Saturday all day, and possibly Tuesday night.

  • They will have some games on Fox via the current Big 12 deal

  • They will cover the ACC Network (now MEGA Network) from Thursday night until late night Saturday

  • Expect ESPN to make ESPN+ even more accessible as their DTC (Direct to Consumer) offerings grow.

At the end of this realignment there will be

  • A 22-team extra regional SEC super conference

  • A 24-team coast-to-coast Big Ten super conference

  • A 30-team even broader coast-to-coast MEGA conference with an additional 6 basketball only members.

Will this happen? Probably not. Parts of this are going to happen.

  • I Think Colorado and Arizona are weeks away from leaving the Pac 12.

  • The Pac 12 Schools shown are going to the Big Ten.

  • The ACC is going to break up with the best schools going to the SEC and Big Ten. I think the question is when. Can ESPN be presented with an option which is BETTER for them? I think it might be possible.

  • The Big 12 is going to get some (all?) of the remaining schools.

  • The question I think is will the non-SEC and non-Big Ten universities band together and form their own mega conference. I think they will.

  • Stay Tuned some of this will happen soon and some may not happen for five years or more.

I know people will think this is crazy. I think the entire situation we are currently in is crazy. In a world where USC and UCLA can abandon the Pac 12 and Texas and Oklahoma can leave their in-state rivals of the Big 12, what isn't possible?

I think this just the next big step down the path we are already going down.

We will see over the next few years how close I got it.

Read also about the Pac-12 and the GOR here.

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