Today, the Big Ten, ACC and Pac-12 announced an alliance that will include “cross country” scheduling. These games wouldn’t only be exclusive to football, but would include men’s and women’s college basketball. Commissioners Kevin Warren, Jim Phillips and George Kliavkoff met over Zoom Tuesday afternoon to discuss the alliance and future ramifications for college football.
Here are some takeaways from the Alliance's first joint press conference.
This Feels Like a Move to Protect Amateurism
All three commissioners said in their time speaking that this alliance was aimed at protecting the NCAA. Kliavkoff said explicitly that the alliance is aimed at “protecting the collegiate model.” To me, this seems like a move to protect amateurism. With the SEC adding Texas and Oklahoma, they could potentially make enough money to separate from the NCAA on its own. The NCAA is in a “state of turbulence,” according to Warren, and the NCAA at this moment isn’t powerful enough to stop the SEC. Remember, they’re coming off of a decisive loss in federal court over the Alston case, and the power NCAA Commissioner Mark Emmert has is dwindling with every move the SEC makes. The other conferences had to do this, just to protect the NCAA and amateurism.
Only Having a Gentleman’s Agreement is Bad Business
Phillips, Kliavkoff and Warren all emphasized the point of there not being a contract in writing for this alliance. Kliavkoff saying directly that the group “didn’t even talk about that.” This is really dumb for a lot of reasons, mainly because asking multiple multimillion dollar businesses to agree in good faith to not try and poach schools from other conferences, when the goal now is more than likely to get as much money as you can before the flood. Not having a contract in writing makes the entire alliance feel more like a publicity stunt, without anything really set in stone. Overall just bad business by the three conferences.
This Won’t be Happening Soon
Because of the lack of a contract set in stone, this scheduling alliance will probably not happen anytime soon. B1G Commissioner Kevin Warren said that the group will focus more on the existing contracts in play rather than “blowing it up.” There are some schools who have conference games scheduled out as far as 2035. I wouldn’t expect for the big “cross country” games Jim Phillips mentioned at the beginning to happen anytime soon.
Playoff Expansion a Large Point
All three commissioners spoke on the issues they have with the College Football Playoff, with B1G Commissioner Kevin Warren saying that they’re in agreement with expanding the playoff, but would like to “do their homework” before making any moves. Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff said the conference is “100%” for the expansion of the CFP, but also acknowledged that there are “issues along the margins.” This alliance seems to have the expansion of the CFP as a major talking point, but I wouldn’t expect any news to come from it soon, as they would wait for all the homework to be done.
The Big 12 is Dead, if not Dying
If you’re Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby, how would you be feeling right now? I’d assume pretty bad, considering your conference was left out of a major scheduling and playoff expansion alliance. Both Phillips and Warren expressed support of Bowlsby in trying to keep the Big 12 afloat, but they’re not going to include them in the alliance? Those words of support seemed to hammer the nail into the coffin for the Big 12. Nobody wants to help them out, leaving them exposed to poaching by the alliance conferences, unless they try and add Group of Five schools such as UCF and Cincinnati.
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