Will The SEC And Big 10 Devour Its Own?

One college football athletic director believes it’s already beginning
Iowa State Athletic Director Jamie Pollard speaks to the media
Iowa State Athletic Director Jamie Pollard speaks to the media / Kelsey Kremer/The Register

"Be careful for what one wishes for" is an old saying many people are probably familiar with.

Well, Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard recently went into detail about how the SEC and Big 10 should probably take that phrase into account. Quoting him from the Des Moines Register, “I wish them all the best because they’re going to eat their own.” The statement is referencing conference realignment and the massive television contracts. 

Pollard also proclaimed, “You just have to look at the evolution. It isn’t the SEC and Big Ten. It’s those who have all the gold make all the rules. So If I was a member of the Big Ten or SEC, I’d start looking over my shoulder and wondering when is the day going to come when the top of the SEC is not going to want the bottom of the SEC.”

A bold statement from Mr. Pollard. First, could he be right? And if yes, what then?

There are many what-ifs and possibilities. Still, the better the competition the better the financial payout from the likes of ESPN, Fox, CBS, and the like. Or, at least, that’s one way to look at the overall landscape of what seems to be a never-ending conference realignment situation.

For instance, there’s long since been discussion about the SEC not wanting Vanderbilt, the football program that consistently gets trounced by its conference brethren. For reference, the Commodores are winless in three of the last four seasons – with 2022 being the exception with two wins – during SEC play.

Would replacing Vanderbilt with a better college football program from the ACC like Florida State be better for the SEC? One could argue several other programs as well.

In the Big 10, Northwestern is often similar to Vanderbilt, albeit not as bad. The Wildcats are more feast or famine with a 5-4 conference record this past season, but the two prior football slates combine for two Big 10 wins.

Maybe the Big 10 would like Kansas instead? Football is at least similar to Northwestern and the basketball program is dominant.

Looking back at Pollard’s original comments, one could argue that he’s strongly hinting at the need for balance. Not every program is a goliath like Georgia or Ohio State football.

Further, if each conference member consistently worries about being removed, could Pollard also indirectly point toward further upheaval beyond members leaving?

Once the finger-pointing begins within any allegiances, it’s hard to return to normal. Then again, maybe Pollard is just simply pointing toward a wide range of unknown possibilities that are not positive for the SEC or Big 10 if they continue adding more schools to their leagues.

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Brian Smith