A funny thing happened on the way to the college athletic’s landscape that was supposedly headed to the 16 team 4 conference layout back in 2012. The Big 12 and ACC survived. Every major conference has had a college football playoff team, and has achieved huge revenue increases the last few years.
Here’s the problem that the last few years revealed. It’s really not the Power 5 though when it comes to conference revenue distribution. It’s the Big 2, the SEC and the Big 10. Conference jumping seemed like such an easy solution a handful of years ago. Now unless the Big 10 and SEC decided to become two leagues of 32 teams, your team and your conference have some work to do.
You think things are rosy in the Big 12? The Big 12 will pay out $9.4 million less than the SEC this year. Save the argument that the Big 12 has separate 3rd-Tier TV deals and that makes up the difference. David Boren president of Oklahoma says the Sooners make less than $2 Million on their Sooner Sports deal. So the SEC will still payout more than $7.4 Million per Big 12 school this year.
Things must be better in the Pac 12 right? Nope they are just as concerned there.
Wilner estimated that starting in 2017-18, TV revenue for conferences will look like this: SEC $35.6 million, Big Ten $33 million, Pac-12 $22.95 million. No Pac-12 athletic director who spoke with CBSSports.com would go on record about the topic. But several ADs privately shared concerns represented in Wilner’s series, especially as new costs for athletes kick in, such as cost of attendance and post-college medical expenses.
They have a network though? That is true, but it is making only making just over $1 Million a year for each Pac 12 school. Distribution for the channel has been difficult and slow. At least the Pac 12 has the infrastructure already in place for potential revenue growth, but it may take years to reach that point at the current pace.
Now we cover the ACC here, and the ACC’s issues are obvious. There is no network. Discussions have been taking place for a number years, but the ACC has it’s schools on lockdown concerning information about it. Whispers say it is coming. I think it is too, but it is not here now and we’ve had no official announcement.
The Pac 12, Big 12, or ACC swapping multiple teams among themselves is just wishful thinking at this point. Of course the Big 12 would be pleased if Florida State joined. The ACC would be happy if Texas came. The Pac 12 would take a Texas Oklahoma combo. These are unrealistic scenarios, and they are several years away from happening even for the most fervent expansion conspiracist.
If you’re convinced everything is fine in a non Big 2 conference you are either naive or simply believing what you want to believe. You can try to convince others you’re conference is better off than the other two. If it is, then it isn’t by much.
The Big 10 and SEC have separated themselves from ACC, Pac 12, and Big 12 by a network and in some cases better bowl payouts. For example even in non Sugar/Rose Bowl years the SEC and Big 10 can play their way into the 3rd most lucrative bowl out there, the Orange Bowl. The Pac 12 and Big 10 cannot, while the ACC is locked out from the Sugar and Rose Bowl in non Orange Bowl years.
Each conference has obstacles in front of them.
Pac 12 – We’ve mentioned the slow growth of their network, and there may be a restructuring of their network in the future. Expansion seems off the table with no viable candidates anywhere near the west coast. Their option is clear, find a way to make their network profitable.
Big 12 – How does the Big 12 resolve the LHN issue? We can safely say Texas isn’t going to giving up $15 Million a year they get from the LHN to support the Big 12. The Big 12 is going to have to come up a solution while Texas still gets their $15 Million a year. Their network still has to be profitable too. Does the conference expand with no viable major conferences candidates? Expansion candidates like Cincinnati, BYU, and Houston are solid, but they will reduce the payout per schools of the current TV and Bowl deals.
This ESPN article that suggested the Big 12 could pull from the Big 10, Pac 12, or ACC was laughable. Why not just grab Alabama and Ohio State while your at it? No Major Conference team is moving without some hard assurances and the Big 12 can’t offer them that.
ACC – For the ACC it’s obvious, find a revenue generator – likely a network. We wait and wait and wait for that. Expansion is not option unless Notre Dame joins as a full member, and I don’t see that in the near future.
What of the Big 10 and SEC? They sit back and watch the money roll in while the other 3 conferences scramble for revenue solutions.