Guest post: Wesley on the NCAA football conference shift(s)

As I am an avid Gators sports fan, I constantly read the Gainesville Sun’s sports Web site. Back in late April, I read an alarming blog post by the Sun’s sports editor, Pat Dooley. In it, Dooley predicted what is currently going on in college football. Ladies and gentlemen, college football and the rest of Division I college athletics is going to shift.

Yesterday, Nebraska decided to leave the Big-12 and head to the Big-10 (which had 11 teams, but  now has 12 with Nebraska). Today, Colorado moved from the Big-12 to go to the Pac-10. What the experts predict is a total collapse of the Big-12. Next, all of the teams from the Big-12 will go to the SEC, Big-10, Pac-10, Mountain West, ACC and Big East. The teams will mesh together to create five mega-conferences.

But why all of this?

It is a move geared behind changing the landscape of college football so that each university will earn more money. In case you didn’t know: major universities have two profit sports that make enough money to support the rest of their athletic programs. Those two profit sports are football and men’s basketball, with football making much more money than men’s basketball.

The Big-1o wanted to make more money. Adding more teams to their conference will make them more money in two ways. One, they will grab a huge fan group in Nebraska (and with that a new TV market, which will let them sell more expensive advertisements on their Big-10 network) and two, one more team will make the Big-10 capable of having a playoff, which gives the conference as a whole more allure to college football fans (more advertising dollars and a better TV deal will come from this, as well).

Some things to think about, though:

  1. This is affecting each university’s athletics programs. So while this is a move geared behind football revenue, softball, lacrosse, swimming and all the sports in-between will be playing new opponents in the coming years.
  2. When will all of this take affect? Will Nebraska pick up a Big-10 schedule this season or will they have to wait? I am pretty sure it will be the latter because every team in college football already has a set schedule.
  3. What about the athletes? The conferences are pretty much set up in geographic regions now (ie. the SEC has teams in the southeast, Pac-10 on the west coast), but a mega-conference could see teams like Oklahoma traveling to the west coast weekends in a row. And these teams are composed of student athletes; the travel schedule is tough on student athletes as it is now.
  4. What about the bowl games? Right now the ACC, Big East, SEC, Big 12, Big 10, and Pac-10 all have automatic bids to the BCS bowl games (Orange Bowl, Rose Bowl, etc.), but with the Big 12 possibly dissolving, what will happen to their automatic bid? Who does it go to?
  5. The NCAA portrays itself as a pro-student-athlete organization, but this is a move for each university to make more money. These moves seem like the NCAA cares less about their football players getting an education, while they care more about how much money the football players can help them generate in advertising dollars and TV deals.

I am curious to see how the dominos will fall and what the shift will do to all of college athletics.

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