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Conference Realignment, The 'Pact' Against the SEC, and the Group of Five - Part I

Just because Texas and Oklahoma move to the SEC, that does not mean there will not be counter moves by other Power Five conferences. It also means an opportunity for UCF and other Group of Five programs to move into the Power Five realm.

As the college football conferences continue to change, so too shall alliances between college football conferences. There’s a ‘pact’ that’s being formed, and it’s a shot across the bow of an opposing conference, the SEC.

As reported by ESPN writer Adam Rittenberg, “The Pac 12, Big 10 and ACC have had preliminary discussions about forming an alliance, likely built around scheduling but possibly other areas, sources told ESPN.”

What does that statement essentially mean?

Okay SEC, you want a super conference? We are going to create a three-league scheduling matrix that will keep each of our conferences -- Pac 12, Big 10 and ACC -- relevant with not only unique games, but intersectional games across the country that draw television viewers and provide vast amounts of advertising money.

Money Talks

It’s the redundant, yet absolutely necessary, aspect of the equation. To keep up with the SEC, the aforementioned three conferences are allegedly going to create unique schedules, without the SEC mind you, and do so to stay up with and ahead of the SEC.

It’s a brilliant idea and there really does not need to be much more than a handshake to get it done. While these three leagues could still be a part of the ever-changing college football conference realignment, for now they can work with one another in an effort to combat the SEC and its attempt to rule all of college football.

With the three Power Five conferences agreeing to consistently schedule one another, the long distance matchups could potentially create massive television contracts, i.e. advertisers will like the multiplicity of numerous big city television markets that will be tuning in to watch unique games rarely seen outside of bowl games.

Television, Advertisers, and Creative Scheduling Collide

The key word would be money, as noted above. Repeat that in your head over and over if you want to truly know the jist of all of this, but that financial stream comes from somewhere. Scheduling is how it will be brought in above all else.

Give credit to the people operating behind the scenes because potentially seeing games such as Clemson at Oregon or Southern California at Wisconsin or Washington at Florida State will certainly create intrigue. That’s what could be in store for future schedules from these three traditional conferences, and this is where UCF and other Group of Five programs arrive into the conversation, too.

UCF, Group of Five, Hold Scheduling Value

Some of the biggest television markets in the country reside in the same cities where Group of Five programs also call home. Cincinnati, Memphis, Dallas, Houston, and Orlando to just name a few of the cities in question.

A program like UCF could be an additional game added to the Oregon schedule, or Cincinnati could be added to the USC schedule. Why not? None of those teams are from the SEC, and it’s fairly clear this ‘pact’ is about keeping the SEC out of its future scheduling if at all possible.

Oregon Head Coach Mario Cristobal Leads the Ducks out of the Tunnel

Oregon Head Coach Mario Cristobal leads the Ducks out of the tunnel

Houston could be in the mix. Overall, the list of Group of Five teams that could be on a future UCLA, Baylor or Ohio State schedule is fun to contemplate. The Pac 12, Big 10 and ACC members could at any point need to add a game to a future schedule. With the SEC very unlikely to be a part of that scheduling mix based on the proposal, why not a school like UCF? 

Ironically, this scenario could also be a way the Big 12 survives, the other conference within the Power Five.

Could Group of Five Teams Make up for Oklahoma and Texas Leaving for SEC?

This is the question that everyone wants to know. It’s premature to say exactly how it will play out, but bringing two or more of the current American Athletic Conference (AAC) teams into the Big 12 serves more than one purpose.

First, the Big 12 could lose more members. Kansas (Big 10), Iowa State (Big 10) and/or other schools could change conferences. Guessing which teams move around proves difficult, but it’s definitely possible and damaging to the Big 12.

Second, the broadening of the Big 12 with college football programs on the rise, as well as programs that expand the Big 12 footprint into new television markets, makes sense. Each one of Houston, Memphis, UCF, and Cincinnati have been through really good seasons lately. SMU cannot be counted out as a possible Big 12 member either.

Third, the Big 12 would likely be able to add a program like Memphis or Cincinnati or Houston faster than it could steal a program like Colorado or Utah or Arizona State from the Pac 12. There’s less red tape, and the Big 12 would really need to find additional teams quickly if more members beyond Oklahoma and Texas bolt away from the Big 12.

This convoluted topic is still just getting started, but there should not be any question that all of the AAC programs mentioned within this article now possess a greater chance of reaching Power Five status, thanks in large part to this scheduling pact concept.

Check out Part II on Sunday, as it will help define which Group of Five programs are truly the best bets to join the Big 12 or another Power Five Conference.

You will find me on Twitter @fbscout_Florida and @UCF_FanNation

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