Welp, the ACC/Big10/Pac12 alliance sounds great but doesn't mean much
I have a co-worker who when he calls, starts the conversation with "What does it all mean?" It's a statement totally appropriate when describing the "ACC/Big10/Pac12" alliance.
The group announced their plans and when you read through the press release, it sounds like one of things that you think about for a second and say "well, that's nice".
The thought going in, and hell, the discussion on our College Football podcast "The Review" centered around galactic realignment, everybody teaming up to take on the SEC and permanent change in college football.
And maybe that's the end game here, but if you read the release, which by the way isn't even a signed agreement, it's basically just a statement on things the three conferences agree on.
So, really, "what does it all mean?"
That's a good question.
In the football part, there's a section stating a goal to schedule non-conference games against each other going forward. But with college football scheduling games often a decade in advance, how will you make this work?
With the ACC playing an eight game conference schedule and the Big 10 and Pac 12 going nine games, it leaves little wiggle room. Over time, yeah, I suppose they could shut out the SEC and not play them in interconfertnce battles--but why would they do that?
There's a "gentleman's agreement" not to poach members from other conferences--but really, do we think that will hold? Granted an ACC team is not likely to go to the Pac 12 or vice-versa, but the ACC has already been raided by the Big 10 and there's overlap available.
Not to mention Pac12 commissioner George Kriviloff's statement that the Pac 12 will announce their plans on potential expansion next week. The prevailing thought is they may move on the remaining carcass of the Big 12 which makes some sense in theory. The expectation is the Big 10 may ingest a couple of those teams as well.
The only other part of all this I found interesting is the alliance being critical of ESPN's hold over college football. I don't really know if it is lip service or not. The Big 10's TV deal expires in 2025, the Pac 12 in 2023. Neither are dependent on the 4-letter network. HOWEVER....the ACC is, well, stuck. Their TV deal with ESPN runs through the next decade and they recently launched the ACC Network.
If you think about it though--the Big 10 and Pac 12 are not really that reliant on ESPN. Their rights are essentially spit with Fox Sports and Fox has priority. Really, it's the one thing they can hold over ESPN's head. What ESPN has done to college football can be debated and probably should be the topic of another post is a ton to wrap your head around, but everything that's happened in the past couple of months has pretty much past the point of no return.
I guess over time we'll see if more things come out of the "Alliance" than currently stated. Right now its really just a document of nice things with schools of similar backgrounds in a multitude of sports.
At some point I'm still pretty confident that Alliance and the SEC are going to break off and become their own "super conference" and leave everyone else in the dust. I believe that is really the end game here and despite the debate on our podcast---I don't know that ESPN is going to be who facilitates it.
With Name, Image and Likeness and a NCAA that has little to no say in college football operations, there's really nothing to stop it from happening. Even if the NCAA "restructuring of priorities" brings about a new and improved NCAA, I really don't believe there's anything they can do prevent it either.