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What the Big 12 SHOULD Do Now

Executive Summary: Discover what the Big 12 SHOULD Do Now to secure its future in college football. Explore bold expansion options and the vision for the MEGA Conference.


The CFP negotiations have headed down the path that was largely very predictable.


Big 12 and ACC leaning media pundits have demanded their leagues should have done SOMETHING to prevent this reality. They rarely state any action that would have led to a result other than the two A4 conferences being relegated to near obscurity and financial ruin. Some of these pundits even demanded their conference leaders should have walked out on the negotiations. This is wrong and the completely wrong focus.

This caused me to post this:



"I am getting very tired of the "Big 12 and ACC did not fight hard enough" narrative.


The Big 12 has had TWO teams in the CFP in the last 10 years. That is two out of FORTY teams.


EVERY ACC team that made the CFP in the last 10 years is now in court suing to get out of the ACC. The future ACC has had ZERO teams in the CFP in the last ten years.


Where the hell was their leverage to put up a fight?"


Does anyone remember the last time the ACC got mouthy in their opposition to the path college football was headed and how the "Alliance" was going to put the SEC in its place with their excellent partners in the Pac 12 and B1G. Within months one of those partners was acting in their self-interest and facilitating the demise of another.


Folks, in a free-market economy THIS is what eventually happens. The strongest companies survive. The right bold moves lead to success. The weaker companies either find a niche to survive or they don't. College football has not truly been a free market until very recently. We are in a TRANSITION from what college football WAS to what it WILL BE. It is happening VERY rapidly because the courts are forcing action.


We can demonize Greg Sankey and Tony Petitti for doing what any president or CEO would do in our economy. We can yell at the ACC and Big 12 for being ineffective and terrible leaders. We can continue to laugh at how out-of-touch the Pac 12 leaders were.


NONE OF THAT GIVES THE LEADERS IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL A CONSTRUCTIVE VISION FOR WHAT COULD BE THE FUTURE.


If you demand a scape goat for where things are in college football, blame the courts for forcing college football not to act illegally. No, that's not true. Blame Congress and the political class for not taking time from domestic security, immigration, and the economic issues to carve out a specific exception that will hold up in court for college football. No, that's not true either. Blame the fact that these enterprises are in the United States of America and are being held accountable to run like every other business in our country while they are generating BILLIONS in revenues. Blame the decades of inaction while the stewards of our game pretended what they were doing was legal and fair.


Whining about the fact that College Football is not some socialist utopia that never has nor never will exist is not a good use of your time. It is definitely not a good use of the Big 12 and ACC leadership's time.


There have been a few people that have largely accepted the reality of the current situation in college football for the past few years- Sankey and the B1G commissioners. THEY have led their conferences to financial and competitive success BECAUSE they are committed as much to their success as Apple, Google, or NVIDIA. THEY have made bold and often unpopular moves because it was BEST for their stakeholders.


I think the B1G got focused post COVID as they realized the millions of dollars they were preparing to just throw away. The SEC lives and breathes college football 24/7 often to the exclusion of other sports.


So, what SHOULD the Big 12 do? Notice I don't ask what the ACC should do. The fate of the ACC is largely more a question of when more than what. ESPN is likely the only group that can save the ACC and doing so will soon not be in their best financial interests either.


If the B1G, SEC, and Big 12 do what they should do, it will speed up the eventual fate of the ACC.

  • At some point in the near future ESPN is going decline to extend their media rights deal with the ACC.

  • This will be the catalyst for an even more rapid sprint into the future. Without the ESPN media rights deal past 2027, I think the courts are going to make it easier than you or I probably expect for teams to leave the ACC.

  • The SEC is going to poach teams from the ACC. The only question is how many.

  • The B1G is going to poach teams from the ACC. The only question is how many.


I wrote about the options here:



Because things are moving fast right now, I really just want to focus our attention on the Big 12 options once the ACC destabilizes.


I do not think the "Magnificent Seven" are going to blow up the ACC and try to reform an eight team leaner and meaner new generation of ACC. I do not believe that lean and mean ACC even if by some miracle it kept Florida State and Clemson gets anywhere close to B1G or SEC media rights money.


I now believe the B1G will add three teams. Florida State has targeted the B1G and the B1G has targeted FSU for a while. I believe Miami will be added in an attempt to truly make Florida B1G Country too. I believe Notre Dame, driven by the prospects of having to negotiate with a player's union independently, will be forced into the conference.


The B1G may add a fourth, but I am not sure who would be the choice. I do NOT think Clemson leadership nor 90% of their fan base will want to go to the B1G. I am aware that pundits that I do respect can make a compelling financial case that Clemson is more valuable to the B1G than it is to the SEC. I do not think Clemson will see it that way.


I still believe the most likely scenario is for the SEC to add Clemson and North Carolina. I believe the SEC, after losing out to Florida St., will see these two as the only two that are SEC fits. North Carolina is the main target and I think the SEC will take Clemson as the second add.


I think it is good news for the rest of the college football world and an opportunity is that these will be the only teams to go to the Power 2 conferences.


What happens next?


I do not think Brett Yormark is going to just sit back and see what happens. I strongly believe he is remaining quiet while working on options to execute when the stability of the ACC is shaken apart by the moves I listed. THIS is exactly what he did with the Pac 12.


Let me ask you a question. In what world does it make sense for Stanford, Cal, and SMU to play in an East Coast centric conference and for UCF, West Virginia, and Cincinnati to play in a Midwest centric conference?


It only made sense when those were the only/ best option for those teams to be in an A4 conference.


I would suggest the better strategy is the one the Big 12 is following. Remain quiet on the CFB front while positioning itself to take on next tier of brands to leave the ACC to build the B12 brand as the alternative A3 conference. The football goal for the Big 12 SHOULD be to become THE conference for those that do not want the semi-pro experience that the SEC and B1G will soon be.


I believe the Big 12 should brand this conference the MEGA Conference.


This may seem like a harsh reality check for Big 12 fans. You may still believe the Big 12 is just one good season from winning it all and on par with the Power 2. Folks, the new CFP format is going to make it nearly impossible for a Big 12 team vastly out resourced and out recruited by the Power 2 to actually win the National Championship. Devote your attention to becoming the best alternative. Don't feel the need to be equal to the Power 2. Be DIFFERENT than the Power 2.


I wrote about this concept as far back as June 2023 BEFORE the Pac 12 imploded. I believe Yormark will partner with ESPN, Fox, and WB to ensure all Mega Conference games are carried regionally over the air and streamed on the proposed app. Exposure will make the Big 12 the "true college football" alternative.


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Let me give you some possible options for the Big 12 in a world that Florida State, Clemson, North Carolina, and Miami are not available. I list these in order of the number of teams added and the division options.


20 Team Conference Options - Adding Louisville, Georgia Tech, NC State, and Virginia

20 team Mega

In this scenario the reformed ACC probably looks something like this.

20 Team ACC

If this happened the Big 12 would probably be considered the last A3 conference.


21 Team Conference Options - Adding Louisville, Georgia Tech, NC State, Virginia, and Stanford

21 Team Mega

In this scenario the reformed ACC probably looks something like this.

21 team Mega ACC

24 Team Conference Options - Adding Louisville, Georgia Tech, NC State, Virginia, Stanford, Virginia Tech, Duke, and Pitt


24 team Mega

This truly would be a MEGA Conference.


I am not sure the media partners would support an expansion this far at an equal share level in the Big 12 media rights. This level would likely make the Big 12 the only real A3 alternative.


I don't think the ACC would reform into an operating conference. The teams left would need to find a home. Probably in the G5.

24 team mega ACC to G5


25 Team Conference Option - Adding Louisville, Georgia Tech, NC State, Virginia, Stanford, Virginia Tech, Duke, Pitt, and Syracuse


25 team Mega

30 Team Conference Option - Adding everyone except Boston College including the two Pac 2 teams.


30 Team Mega

Conclusion


I think the Big 12 is preparing to add after the SEC and B1G take their first cut from the ACC. I believe they will add at least 4 teams but very well, if their media partners support it, might add 8 teams.


I believe there is an accretive value to being the only truly viable alternative to the SEC and Big 12. I believe there are ways the Big 12 marketing machine can position the conference as the REAL home of big time COLLEGE football. Position the SEC and B1G as something that is NOT real COLLEGE football. The Big 12 is creative enough at marketing to make this happen. It almost does not matter how they perform vs. the B1G and SEC. They are not college football conferences anymore.


I say this as a Texas fan, son of a Texas Longhorn Silver Spur, son of a proud Wisconsin Badgers mom. father of an LSU student trainer, father of the same son who was an Auburn graduate student trainer, and a father of a third generation Texas grad and fan. I am very comfortable with big time college football. I think the Big 12 will try to convince us they are the only ones playing big time COLLEGE football.


I think it will work. Be bold Big 12.


I think most pundits are not thinking big enough with regard to how the Big 12 will expand to position themselves as the alternative conference to the Power 2. I think the Big 12 will attempt to relegate the teams that do not join them to G5 status.


It is the free market economy at work folks. Decisions have consequences. What will the Big 12 do NOW?



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