With the discussion and decision to add both Oklahoma and Texas to the SouthEastern Conference, there have been many who have been beside themselves, enraged, and just bitter about this decision. They use sentences like “Oklahoma and Texas are not even in the South East” or “Clemson and Florida State would make a better matchup than this.” Both of these are valid arguments and points of discussion. However, with both being correct from a fan perspective, I want readers to be enlightened by a new approach that would change College Football forever. No more Conferences, form a league of its own with the top 10 teams who would play against each other for a National Championship. Now, this may be the point in the article where you stop reading and are livid enough to scream at me in the comment section. I ask that neither of those things happen as I will address my points as conscience as possible.
1. It's all about money
The lure of College Football in our lifetimes has always been about a factor which we see in every facet of the game. It's called money and there's a lot of it to be had. Why else would Texas and Oklahoma want to move away from a conference where they do not necessarily dominate but they stand a big chance of winning. Competition is everything. Let’s go back to the 2009 National Championship. Alabama was looking for its first National Title in almost 2 decades. Texas was a recent winner in 2005 as they upset the USC Trojans. Remember what happened in that game. Alabama walked on Texas, regardless of whether Colt McCoy would have finished that game or not Alabama was the superior ball club. They assisted in a time when Florida, LSU, Auburn, and them would play for and win a National Championship. They proved that the SEC was the most dominant conference in College Football. Alabama proved that it was levels above its own conference.
The SEC negotiated a contract for televising its games in recent years with ESPN and has its own exclusive network with ESPN as a result. The average fan cannot afford the cable to watch their team and support them on Saturdays in the fall because of that. The SEC claimed the throne all on its own and on the backs of Television they were supported for continuing their dominance of the game. Now granted, since that era the second best conferences have been the ACC, Big 12 and the Big 10. Well, with Texas and Oklahoma leaving the conference will need two new members. Same if Clemson and FSU leave. Also if Ohio State, which was proposed as a possibility earlier this week, leaves they would need someone else from their conference to move with them. So either way the conferences are in no shape to be losing teams. The SEC did wonders for its new comers in Missouri and Texas A&M. Missouri received a larger piece of the pie and Texas A&M is reestablishing a rivalry with LSU. The ploy worked for Texas A&M as they no longer had to face their in-state rival Texas. Missouri has had a bit of a tougher road but they are not financially hurting in the SEC either. People still watch a dismal SEC matchup between Missouri and another SEC team as opposed to watching Oklahoma walk all over SMU or another opponent in their own Conference. So, let's get that straight it's about television rights which boils down to money.
2. It's Not Fair
Well another possibility is that you may have retaliation with this idea from other schools. Their first question may be, well who would be in the TOP 10 for this season matchup and also wouldn’t you have to play games outside of that to keep it fair? Well yes, you would have to have some “schedule scratch-offs” as sure fire victories. As someone who graduated from a small school in South Carolina, it was torture to watch Clemson destroy my alma mater but it was a big money maker. So the smaller schools won’t complain with that kind of a pay-day. However, there is another issue with this. Shouldn’t all Division I schools have a chance to compete for a National Championship? Well the truth of the matter is that Alabama, Georgia, Clemson, Ohio State are unique and then there's everyone else. It seems that the four-team playoff has made it nearly impossible to compete for some schools outside of one of the big conferences. Washington was able to make it to the playoff and Notre Dame was also but these matchups as we saw were disastrous for those teams as a far superior opponent, mainly Alabama was able to blank them on the scoreboard. Washington and Notre Dame were not bad teams. They lacked the talent and depth that Alabama, Georgia, Clemson, or Ohio State have. That's not necessarily a bad thing; It's also not a good thing though either. When it comes to recruiting season these are the schools that rack up the most and the best recruits because who would not want an opportunity to play for a National Championship and be coached by Dabo Swinney or Nick Saban?
However, this leaves out schools like Texas A&M who played an amazing season last year but fell short to Alabama. A&M, it could be argued, was a better team than Ohio State, yet Ohio State was ranked higher and got the bid. Not fair at all, but understandable. It's about favoritism it seems. Only the best make it. Well off the top of ESPN’s list they rank Alabama #1, Oklahoma #2, Clemson #3, Georgia #4, Ohio State #5, Texas A&M #6, Iowa State #7, Oregon #8, Notre Dame #9, and North Carolina #10. At this link here you can see why they ranked them as they did Click Here. Now let's examine that list. How many teams are in the SEC, 3. How many teams are in the Big 10, 1. How many are ACC teams, 3. See, college football already favors the best conferences anyway so this would simply be an extension of that. No system is going to be fair when it comes to the National Championship. I think we could agree that pre-season wise Ohio State was going to be in the discussion and that Alabama and Clemson where most likely going to face-off. So no surprises their. However, when you hear the, “it's not fair argument” guess what, the playoff system does not favor every school, the BCS did not favor everyone either. So this way probably will not either.
3. Didn’t the "Super League" Idea not work in Europe?
For those of you that do not follow European Football, this may come as the part of the essay where you go, who and what and why. However, yes, this kind of system has been done before, or at least attempted. You see, you have to earn your spot to play in the UEFA Champions League. You must qualify. However, when UEFA attempted to form a “Super League” we saw the reaction by European fanbases. They basically used argument #2 but for European Football. They were right, what makes Manchester City, who was a newcomer to being a great team, a worthy adversary in the “Super League”? Well, for one, UEFA selected the teams that were going to make them the most money on paper. Man United, Barcelona, Real Madrid and more. Teams that people were going to be willing to watch more often than not. The “Super League” did not work in Europe but it could actually work in the United States. Fans from the United States of America would mostly be ok with a Super League though because it seems that we already have one in College Football. That being said this one would include teams outside of the South East Conference.
SEC fans it seems are the big proponents to this theory of not making a “Super League”. The SEC is the best conference that College Football money can buy. If you can’t beat them, join them. It seems that both Oklahoma and Texas have phenomenal records against the SEC but they were the powerhouses and machines that moved and shifted college football for what it is today. The SEC is a much more powerful conference and Texas is no longer the superior program that it once was. Oklahoma is a great program but to measure up to the SEC it seems its going to take a different offensive game and a better defense.
4. What will become of the small schools?
So the small schools that have no shot at even coming close to the National Championship will not truly be affected physically by getting rid of conferences. It will not harm their schedule necessarily. It will affect them in the business and financial side. Getting money for the small schools is a chore. Remember that school in the South East called Wofford in Spartanburg, SC. Well, Wofford in recent years has competed in both Football and Basketball at a high level. They will NEVER measure up to an Alabama, or a dynasty that we see in big time college football today but they have proven to hold their own as a member of Division 1A. Small schools need the money for athletics because it's not always there. Their biggest fundraisers are their alumni base. Many fans that attend their games are not your typical ESPN viewership. Instead it is about getting their name out there.
Smaller Schools that are a part of Conferences in other sports may be affected by this. Look at UAB (University of Alabama-Birmingham). Their Football Program went belly-up. As a result, they just recently got Football back. This may affect them very badly because they are going to need conference support. However, the bad have to suffer for the good unfortunately. UAB will most likely not be the only school with this issue or affected by this problem. Schedules will remain the same for everyone unless you are a part of the NCAA Football Super League.
5. Will this disrupt the new NIL ruling?
For anyone that has been following the recent events in college sports. Athletes are now able to attain their own source of income from advertising and sponsorships. No longer are athletes amateurs at the college level. This conference shake-up might also affect that ruling. So a good point is what is happening with Bryce Young. He’s 20 years old and will be making nearly 500K from obtaining sponsorships, partnerships, etc. Young has not even played a down yet and he’s already making NFL League minimum. Well, for one thing, look at who he plays for, Alabama. They have been the champions and have created a dynasty in recent years that rivals anything College Football has ever seen. Young has more of an access to that. He knows what he is doing. Athletes at these premier schools will get the top tier deals which may be unfair to players outside of the league. Well, getting rid of a conference and creating a new one is something that you may be thinking is coming out of this reading. Well, yes and no. It would not be a conference per say, but rather an elite league of its own.
What it boils down to is the financial disparity of the different levels of the game. When Mike Slive, Commissioner of the SEC noted that he wanted something very similar to the “Premier League” in England he was saying that not as a compliment but that the SEC was too powerful and needed to be placed in its own league financially. Well, Mike, you have been. Alabama, Texas, Oklahoma and Ohio State are the top financial earners each year. Two of those teams currently occupy the same conference which makes it a whole lot harder for others to even consider getting a bidding opportunity from the SEC. So the NIL ruling, paying athletes will also be affected by this tremendous upheaval as well.
Is there a way to fix this?
Ultimately, there is not a wrong answer or a correct answer. The smaller schools want the larger school’s money for sports but the bigger schools do not want to lower their profit margins. Which makes perfect sense. Also, the smaller schools would have to expand recruiting practices which they are currently limited to because its very hard to find someone who knows where Florida Gulf-Coast University is (if you guessed Florida you were at least close). The bigger picture though is that there is not a singular answer. This is only a possibly suggested solution that may potentially make things worse. We covered the different effects though so there should not be any confusion on the part of those that willingly participate.