All-Conference Scheduling is the Wave of the Dystopian College Football Future
Today, the cagey commissioner of the SEC Greg Sankey, cracked wise before a forum of reporters gathered fo SEC Media Days:
Oh, Greg! You are such a card! I’m here to tell you though, the SEC is 100% looking to a 10-game conference schedule. In fact, it is likely working on a 12-game conference schedule. I’m speaking not from the position of paranoia, but from the bottomline. The SEC (and BIG 10) are hauling in obnoxious sums of money, but it’s still not enough. By weakening the NCAA and betraying the PAC 12 and BIG12, the BIG10 and SEC are is position to carve the rest of the meat of the college football carcass.
The SEC doesn’t care about bowl games
Thanks to a playoff system that was supposed to bring intrigue to college football but only serves to strenghten a handful of the usual blue-blooded programs, few outside the Group of Five genuinely care about the Bowl game. Of the players on ESPN’s Todd McShay’s top 50 list of 2022 NFL Draft prospects, 14 opted out of their school’s bowl game. The SEC simply doesn’t view Bowl games as mattering that much – especially once they gain enough influential programs to autocratically dictate (or eliminate) bowl games.
Crassly put, if Mississippi State has the choice between scheduling enough G5 opponents to maybe reach six wins, or go 2-10 in an all SEC slate while pocketing a billion dollars, the Bulldogs are choosing the bag. Besides, with only the BIG10 and SEC calling the shots, what stops these two conferences from creating a bowl system that rewards only their own? FOX and ESPN would be first to finance such an arrangement.
The SEC has zero obligation to lift the G5
Group of Five conferences generate a fraction of the income generated by the SEC – but for Greg Sankey that’s just cash left on the table. Crunch the numbers. Arkansas would much rather lose to Texas A&M than to North Texas – to which Arkansas shelled out $1,000,000 for a humiliating defeat on national television. In addition, both Conference USA and the Sun Belt occupy space within the SEC footprint. As former Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long once put it, UofA needs every Arkansan to be a Razorback. Every sweatshirt or cap not bearing that hideous forward facing hog is wasted opportunity. Sankey doesn’t want to share retail self-space with Troy and Coastal Carolina.
COVID proved that all-conference schedules make bank
During the stupid COVID season, the SEC played an SEC-only schedule and didn’t see a hint of decline in their broadcast ratings. That begs the question – why share the loot with another conference when 100% of the haul can fill your own coffers? Do you think Texas and Oklahoma didn’t smell this turd-pie baking? If you think I’m overestimating the all-SEC appeal, keep in mind that last year’s all-SEC national championship game national championship game drew 22.6 million viewers across ESPN’s broadcasts, a 19% increase compared to last year’s final. We’re gonna watch no matter how repetitive the match-ups become.
Yuk it up, Sankey. Laugh all the way to the bank. Want to hear something wild? Imagine SEC programs paying G5 schools to scuttle their programs. Is it beyond the pale to see Florida offering FIU $250M to fold up its tent? How about Georgia paying a similar sum to Georgia Southern? How much would Arkansas pay to finally rid itself of Arkansas State? Football is expensive. Its operation is getting pricier. Brands only increase in value if they’re growing marketshare. Buying and liquidating competition is a Gordon Gekko move that would cost SEC programs pocket change.
I hope Sankey doesn’t see that last paragraph.
PHOTO CREDIT: Me