Three of the most powerful conferences in college football in the United States, the Big Ten, Pac-12 and ACC have announced that they have formed an alliance.
Commissioners of the three organizations, George Kliavkoff, Jim Phillips and Kevin Warren announced the agreement on Tuesday with plenty of positive words, although they were short on clarity in terms of what this alliance between the three conferences would mean.
Stability For The Future?
One of the key issues this move is believed to be keen to address is the current lack of stability within college football at present.
A lack of national guidelines on issues such as name and image likeness rights, the Alston case, realignment of some of the conferences, new TV and media deals, expansion of the playoffs have created a sea of confusion within the NCAA and this step is seen as three of the larger conferences trying to quell the brewing storm.
Certainly, the group spoke in glowing terms about sharing similar ambitions and goals in terms of academics, promotion of Olympic sports and the pursuit and promotion of gender equality, diversity, inclusion and social justice.
However, as one person present at the meeting commented:
“There’s an air of cooperation. We don’t know what opportunities might come from it.”
“State Of Flux”
Explaining the decision, Kevin Warren commented:
“Building for the future had to start somewhere. The was in a state of flux. There was severe turbulence. There are three new commissioners. The NCAA has taken a step back and has said it has to evaluate everything from a constitutional convention.”
“You have CFP expansion that was not composed by any of us, in the group involved with it. You have name, image and likeness, the Alston case, gender equity issues, social justice issues we have to deal with.”
“We will look back in 10, 20 even 50 years from now, they will study what happened in 2020 and 2021, from the murder of George Floyd to COVID and the issues we’re talking about right now.”
“Someone had to take the first step, and personally, for me in the Big Ten, I did not want to sit around and let those decisions be made by others.”
Threat Of The SEC?
There’s no doubt that the fact that Texas and Oklahoma joined the SEC from the Big-12, and that SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey had a hand in designing the new 12-team playoff expansion, played a key role in the three conferences forming an alliance of 41-schools.
With the SEC increasing revenue further, this alliance between the three is seen as a way for teams to potentially increase the turnover for each of the three conferences, potentially by setting up attractive inter-conference matches throughout the regular season, that would attract a large television audience.
However, that seems a long way off according to Kevin Warren.
“This is not about getting out of contracts and blowing anything up,” he confirmed.
“This is about honoring those existing contracts, but also building relationships between these three like-minded conferences as we look forward from a scheduling standpoint to see if there’s an opportunity to build unique games that will come together.”
With the SEC now becoming the dominant conference in college football, there is a real onus on other conferences to band together and think about the future of college football.
Teams have always moved from conference to conference – it is how the Big 12 was formed in part – but what is at stake here is more than the future of a relatively small number of teams, but the very fabric of college football itself.
For many years fans and critics have called for more clarity and a fairer, clearer to follow end of season playoffs. Could this be the newly formed Alliances chance to create that future?
Only time will tell.