Well, it is now pretty much a foregone conclusion. John Calipari was right. We are entering a new world in college sports. The suggestion planted in the minds of the collegiate sports world by Cal that there are going to be 4-16 team conferences has taken hold. And the mice are scurrying for lifeboats. What does this new world bring? Well, that depends on a lot of factors. Let's get into a few.
Will the University Presidents all sit down and simply decide that it's time for a change?
The answer to that one is probably no. Try and get 64 "educated" men to agree on anything...heh, not going to happen. But what may occur is this. Big brother may get involved. And by big brother, I mean the media, not the government.
If ESPN, CBS, ABC, Fox, NBC can all manage to get their ducks in a row as they do for the NFL broadcast package, or NBA, or any other professional sports league, then it will be a foregone conclusion. They will throw so much money at the schools that they cannot say no. Will that happen? I think that is far more likely to happen than anything else. The conferences are not going to want to give an inch. But the media has the power to change that with the almighty dollar. Is Mike Slive going to want to see the ACC get a bigger check than him? No, however he might be palatable to the SEC getting bigger checks than they do now. You throw n a football championship playoff, and then possibly reorganize the basketball tourney too, and there is a much different landscape out there. How will it look, well, let us gaze into the crystal ball for a minute and see.
First off, let us look southward. Now, the big question is will geography play a part? The simple answer to that would be yes, but nothing is simple when you are talking about money. So let's say that for the sake of arguments, the SEC's current structure remains intact and gets some additions. Again, remember that geography is not the main idea here, but should be considered for long term viability. No fan from Boston wants to have to travel to Dallas to see a game every year. Texas Tech, Baylor, Kansas State, and West Virginia come to the SEC. The Big 12 and the Big East die in this scenario, which is most likely to happen anyway. Then we move northward.
The B1G gets a small gift, but nothing major to speak of. They pick up UConn, and Syracuse. With those two and the additions of Maryland and Rutgers, they are pretty well diversified and structured. And that brings us to the ACC. They get an interesting mix. Cincinnati, Temple, Tulane, and Pittsburgh will round out the ACC. They wont be a football powerhouse, but they will be the basketball capital of the country. And they will still be able to maintain football respectability. And now we go West young man.
The Pac 12 becomes something of a different animal. Because they immediately become something they could not before. The Texas Longhorns
have finally figured out that TV is not as easy to deal with as they thought, so they capitulate and join Kansas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and in the new PAC 16. Its a win-win for both groups as the money beings to flow. All directions and Texas can now renegotiate their own team deal for TV. Oh yeah, and so can everyone else. Thats the key to the whole thing. The new NCwhatever gets their deal first, then the conferences, and then the schools can negotiate theirs. That needs to fall in there somewhere. Regional networks might be the answer as you could have a Florida Football Network, or a Kentucky Sports Network, etc.
Now, that means there are going to be some schools on the outside looking in. However, that can be taken into account by making a new and different second tier in college sports for the likes of Eastern, and Western, etc. and bowls are developed for those as well, and maybe even a play in for the upper tier championship as well. The trick is the money. Make the money right for all the participants, and they will fall like dominoes. If I am Houston, or TCU, or SMU, I hate this plan. But the problem is that hating it won't make it go away. Restructuring Conference USA into a 16 team league would help it as well, but they would not be strong enough to compete in the new upper tier. But this restructuring will strengthen the top as well as the next level. And put just about everyone on solid footing for decades to come. And this might be a model for reorganizing the second tier teams too. It's coming, the only question is what will it loo like when it arrives.
Oh yeah, and how big the payday will be.