College Football Super Conference
College football may change the landscape of its conferences and become super conferences by adding more teams.
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The Texas Longhorns playing football in the SEC?
It almost happened once before.. 20 years ago Texas was set to join the SEC but the Texas legislature caught on to the Longhorns plans through the Texas A&M athletic department and demanded that the SEC accept both schools.
Press-Register Illustration/Brian Lyman
The SEC did not want Texas A&M and the deal for Texas was never consummated. Instead Arkansas and South Carolina joined the SEC. Arkansas ended a 76 year affiliation with the Southwest Conference to join the SEC. South Carolina was formally an independent.
Harvey Schiller was commissioner of the SEC from 1986-89. Schiller wanted to exploit a NCAA rule that a conference with more than 10 affiliated schools could have a championship game. There were some heated discussions with the NCAA. Schiller reported that the NCAA got a bit nasty about a championship game. The NCAA argued that this rule was created for other sports. Schiller argued that the rule did not specify which sport. In 1992, the SEC made history by holding its initial championship game.
Super conferences could be the gateway to a NCAA football championship. If 4 or 8 conferences became established, the champions from each conference could play each other until a Nation Champion is determined on the grid iron. The conferences could make up the regions in the United States creating some bitter rivals for the top spot in college football.
The crown jewel for super conferences would be the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame and the Texas Longhorns. Simply the revenue and the television audience these schools bring is attractive to any conference. Geographically Texas is suited for the SEC and Notre Dame for the Big 10.
The SEC in establishing a super conference also is interested in Clemson, Georgia Tech, Florida State, Miami, and perhaps even Texas Tech. Each of these ACC teams (Texas Tech not included) comes with a hardy fan base and a built in mega rivalry. Clemson and South Carolina play each year for the bragging rights of South Carolina football. An intense rivalry that can separate families during that time of the year.. Georgia Tech and Georgia, Florida State, Miami, and Florida all represent games that would be attractive to the SEC not only as bragging rights for the winning team but from a revenue point these games are going to be sold out and a television base built in to these games. This is the kind of revenue that college football programs will not shy away from.
The Big 10 has made it known they are exploring going to a 16 team format. The Big 10 wants Notre Dame first and foremost. To complete the 16 team format its believed the Big 10 is also interested in Rutgers, Nebraska, and Missouri.
If these teams do realign with the Big 10 that could leave the SEC an opportunity to scoop up Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and possible Texas A&M. Combine that with the ACC schools that the SEC is interested in and the Big 10 and SEC could become Super conferences.
On a larger scale the PAC 10 could absorbed the WAC and create its super conference or it could pick up some leftovers from the Big 12, such as, Kansa State, Kansas, and Colorado. The Big East conference could also package the C-USA conference. Most likely the schools will be realigned with due respect to their geographic location and revenue that the school generates.
The ACC could also respond by getting Louisville, Cincinnati, UConn, and Syracuse. this realignment would solidify the ACC as more of a basketball league. There would be some powerhouse football programs that could compete but it would not be as deep in football as the other super conferences.
Making super conferences could work out well for some of the image conscious schools like Boise State, BYU and Utah. There is always a completion factor when the schools go undefeated and don’t generate enough respect on the national level to be chosen as an elite team that can compete for the National Title.
Super conferences would eliminate the innate way teams are selected to play for the national title. Having a victor emerge from each conference and then play each other until the process of elimination whittles it down to two teams that would then play for the national title. Then all doubts would be settled who the real champion is.
This quasi playoff system would add more games to the college athletes schedule. The conferences could scale back one regular season game to help compensate for the extra games. However, there is money involved and the more money involved the less likely any super conference is going to scale back on regular season games.
Why would schools want to join a mega conference with the chance of getting lost between the higher profile schools? Of course, its revenue. All the universities share in the revenue acquired by the conference and each school. A major coup d’etat would be television rights. The conference could guarantee a high profile match up between leading teams every week. They could also use Thursdays to add another game of the week reeling in more revenue. They could also sign some local television deals that for Thursday games and games on Saturday. This kind of deal would be subject to the current deal that the NCAA has contracted to ESPN.
For smaller schools this could create a windfall in revenue sharing and could springboard their programs on a national level. Budgets would be increased, coaches pay would accelerate to become competitive with other winning programs. Stadiums could be remodeled to accommodate the rabid college football fans that consider their team as much as part of their lives as breathing. But alas, the fan runs the risk of college football tickets be raised in price to generate even more revenue.
Texas and Notre Dame vs. anyone is going to be a high profile game. But Texas against the likes of Alabama, Florida, LSU, Auburn, and Tennessee are the kind of high profile games that could have the SEC salivating. Where there is greed and money, somewhere lurking is college football. Don’t be surprised if super conferences are generated and slowly move away from the gestapo like NCAA.