It has been a little bit of a turbulent time so far for the NCAAF with two big teams leaving their division to move elsewhere. That’s right, Oklahoma and Texas both announced they weren’t renewing TV rights for their deal playing in the Big 12, as they looked to force through a move to join the SEC. And that move was announced just a few weeks ago.
This is highly likely to change a few things for the upcoming NCAAF season. Firstly, the Big 12 (or 10 as it will be now) is no longer that ‘big’ now it is losing two of it’s top teams, and as stated, it’s no longer 12 either. And with another conference already named the Big 10, one of the first things that will have to change is the division’s name. But that’s neither here nor there really in the grand scheme of things.
It has had an interesting effect though, because it is now likely not the only change we could see. That’s because in news that was broken by ESPN, the Big Ten, Pacific-12 and Atlantic Coast Conference seem to be entering some kind of alliance. They’re not forming some kind of super conference, although, never say never. What they plan to do is come together for the greater good of their three divisions.
That’s because these three leagues, along with the SEC and what will soon formerly be called the Big 12, make up what is known as the Autonomy 5. A group of college football leagues that own the freedom to write their own rules at NCAA level. And if these three leagues come together, they will be able to out-vote the other two, even with the number of big name colleges that partake in the SEC.
It wouldn’t be much of a surprise to see the remaining teams in the Big 12 also deciding to join this alliance too, especially after it has lost two of its bigger teams. That way they would be better protected and also possibly be able to punch the college teams who left by voting down any changes they wanted to make to the rules of the seasons.
The main problem is though, that none of this may actually come into play for many years. Because the current deal for Oklahoma and Texas in terms of their TV rights ends in 2025. They’ll likely want to play in the SEC before then, but it could end up meaning they are forced to pay fines upto $80m for exiting their contract early, and even for colleges of these sizes, and the deals they could negotiate going forward, it’s quite the sum of money to have to cough up.
But these decisions won’t have been made on a whim by the folks at Oklahoma and Texas. They will have weighed up all their options and gone down the most lucrative and productive path for them, and they will no doubt be seeing greener grass on the other side, even if they are forced to pay out large sums of money.
What they may not have seen coming though was the alliance between other leagues popping up. This is something that would never have happened if Oklahoma and Texas had stayed put, so it’s not something they would’ve known would have happened, although they will no doubt have anticipated some kind of rebellion of sorts against the move.
But it could have a bigger impact than they realise, because there were plans for an expansion to the College Football Playoff. The recommendations were to increase them from four teams to twelve teams, with six of the highest ranked conferences all being guaranteed a place. But with more big hitters in the SEC, it is likely that they would have pushed for further amendments that would possibly scrap those automatic places, in favor of allowing more teams from their conference to make the playoffs.
But this will be something that the alliance will feel very strongly against. And by coming together, they could prevent any further amendments being made that have a negative impact on their own leagues. Which is and isn’t better for the wider game in general.
It is better, because we see more representation in the playoffs from more divisions across the United States. But the negative side is that with so many excellent teams in the SEC, there will be more deservicing teams in that conference that could fail to make the playoffs for lesser teams who qualified by winning less competitive divisions, that were only allowed there due to having an automatic spot.
Either way, this is very unlikely to be the last of the developments we hear before the new campaign kicks off. There will no doubt be some turbulent times ahead, but all we can hope is that it doesn’t tarnish the reputation of College Football, the NCAAF or any of the teams involved, and instead, impacts the game for the better.