What are the challenges of the confrontation between B1G expansion and SEC? Only the soul of college football
We’ve been told to believe, above all else, that money is everything in the latest iteration of college football expansion.
But money hasn’t gotten us to this tipping point, where college football — and college sports, by proxy — is racing toward the final blow on the chessboard.
Money isn’t the reason college football has gone from a regional sport to a national giant over the past two decades.
Money isn’t the reason college football is second only to the NFL in popularity in the United States.
The product is.
“I feel like we’re drifting further and further away from what makes us unique,” Syracuse coach Dino Babers said in April. “Where does it stop?”
It ends here, in a seismic stalemate, a pause in the rush to change. The SEC versus the Big Ten – and neither trusts the other. The loser: everyone else.
If the expansion of college football was a high school economics class, everyone associated with it would get a big, fat “F”—failure, on multiple levels.
The #1 priority in sales is your product. Above all, a unique and solid product endures.
A product that is constantly reinventing itself – to reinvent itself and always looking for more revenue – ultimately has nothing to do. And what made it rare in the first place is long in the rearview mirror.
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to college football.
There’s big news coming for the upcoming 2022-23 Big Ten football season (and the NFL season). Ohio online sports betting will officially launch on January 1, 2023. Ohio will join other Big Ten states where sports betting has been legalized, such as Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois and more .
Two decades ago, college football was a regional sport with individual pockets of passion. As we head into the 2022 season, the sport is dangerously close to implosion.
Despite sitting in the luckiest economic position in the history of amateur athletics, the idea raging in presidential offices across the higher education landscape is the contraction of college football by l ‘expansion.
Two decades ago, the SEC distributed $96 million in media rights revenue to its 12 member institutions. Earlier this spring, the SEC announced that it was distributing $777 million to its 14 institutions.
When Texas and Oklahoma are added to the equation and the new ESPN agreement (from 2024) is modernized, industry sources believe the SEC will distribute up to 1.2 to 1.4 billion dollars per year to the 16 schools.
The Big Ten’s media rights figures are similar to, if not higher than, those of the SEC. They are 2 conferences with 16 teams that dominate above all in college football. But at what cost ?
College football is slowly losing what made it unique, which made the product so desirable for so long. Combat was once the soul of a sport.
Now it’s about the wallet.
Money is unquestionably vital, the fuel of growth and future potential. But – and here’s the key – it’s also what we walk away from without a moment’s hesitation.
We’ve gone from celebrating what makes college football unique — every Saturday counts — to accepting that some are better equipped than others. Then double over.
We strip away the fabric of sport, what is real and tangible dissolves amidst a crush and a rush of progress. The romance of the sport, the pageantry of its teams, traditions and campuses, has been replaced by something called the annual average value (it’s a TV term, basically calculating the value of a school at a conference ).
How about the AUV – the annual unique value, the undeniable DNA of college football that has made it so attractive for TV costumes.
This is the Rose Bowl, where the Big Ten and Pac-12 elite play. It’s Texas vs. Texas A&M, and Nebraska vs. Oklahoma and the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party and the Backyard Brawl.
It is the game and the territorial cup, the holy war and the civil war. It’s true, civil war.
It’s Penn State’s white jerseys and Oregon’s kaleidoscope. It’s Saturday night in Death Valley and the smoke in the Orange Bowl (that monstrosity of an NFL stadium in Miami Gardens will have to work). It’s Bedlam and The Border War.
It’s what built college football, but for some reason now we’re hearing that the Association of American Universities will apparently be a critical factor in the Big Ten’s future expansion.
Uh, guys, the AAU called. They’re busy trying to, you know, lead across the United States and beyond.
Football may have to wait.
A decision. A reactionary, perhaps even unintended, decision by the Big Ten to add USC and UCLA turned college football into a dramatic revolution threatening the very recipe for success.
There will be better games, better clashes. A new group of fans will be reached and will learn to love the nuances of the 3-month-old demolition derby.
Because a solid product lasts.
Especially if soul and wallet can find a way to coexist.