The world is constantly changing, and with it, so do people’s favorite sports. Whether that be with the introduction of new technology, the evolution of rules, or with sports teams looking for new ways to increase income. And NCAA college football is no different to any other sport.
Whilst many people will be aware of the NCAA football lines changing every season with teams adding new players and losing others in the NFL Draft, something else is soon to change within college football too. That change being that teams are currently looking at changing who they grant their media rights to.
But why? Well, there are two main reasons. But firstly, let’s look at who the teams are trying to upset the current apple cart. The Oklahoma Sooners and the Texas Longhorns, two of the teams who make up the Big 12, are looking to move conferences. And as part of that, they have announced this week they will not be renewing their grant for media rights beyond the current deal that expires in 2025.
The conference they look to move to is the SEC, or the Southeastern Conference. But it wasn’t guaranteed that the move would be given permission, as they needed a majority vote from existing directors of existing teams to be allowed to join. They have been fortunate enough though to not have been rejected and have officially accepted invitations to join.
Even though they’re happy to keep their media rights in its current deal and not extend it, they could still be victim to charges in the tens of millions of dollars, should they leave the Big 12. So the move isn’t as straightforward as some are making it out to be.
And now we answer why these teams may be doing this. Firstly, it could be better for the college teams to be part of a more competitive league. The SEC has produced more playoff teams in recent years than any other conference, and it is one of the larger conferences, meaning there are more teams to play against. However, the move will have a wider impact for other teams as well, with ramifications for play-off expansion plans.
The other reason why this is a beneficial move for the two teams that are going to be on the move, is more money. With more games, and some even tastier matchups against the top sides from the SEC, they will be able to barter for better prices for their media rights. And this will benefit the full conference.
With the Big 12 no longer having 12 teams though, it will likely mean there will be changes to other conferences in the sport as well. One guarantee will be a new name for the Big 12 unless they find two new teams, because there is already a Big Ten conference so that name is taken. But what this could force is other conferences to combine and increase league sizes, or have split divisions in the conference like the Conference USA or PAC-12.
What some are suggesting is that conferences could begin to combine to create four super-conferences, which would create a more competitive scene for college football. It would definitely be exciting to see, and there would be so many new matchups between colleges we’ve never seen before. But it depends if teams are willing to be as brave as Texas and Oklahoma in trying to create a brighter future for themselves.
The ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 have already announced a major alliance of the three conferences. This conference seeks to join hands in resolving issues like scheduling in times of the pandemic, Playoff expansion and NCAA’S governance over football. The Big 12, apparently, is left out of this alliance, especially even when their own teams are departing with the conference.
The senior commissioner of Big 12, Bob Bowlsby shared a statement that says – “The practical impacts of the arrangement are yet to be seen. The Big 12 Conference has every expectation that we will continue to compete at the highest levels and will be intimately and actively involved in the national athletics agenda.”
While the Big 12’s ambitions still seem high, fans throughout the country are waiting to see how the Big 12 is going to deal with the situation and what the future holds in store for them. If other conferences, like the Pac-12, decide on a league expansion and pick on the remaining teams in Big 12, then it could very well spell out the end for the Big 12 conference.
According to sportsbookreview.com, the Big 12’s only chance of success is if the remaining eight teams decide to stay in the conference. Only then they can think about having their own expansion to accommodate their conference. There are talks that the Big 12 has already created an expansion subgroup, though what schools would join the subgroup and if the remaining teams will work together for the conference is still uncertain.
Andrea Adelson from ESPN said how difficult it is for the remaining teams to stay together in the league, especially considering how schools are constantly looking to fulfill their own self interests. While these self interests may potentially help out college football teams with more media exposure and money, it might not end too well for the Big 12 as a conference.
The remaining schools also stated that they aren’t in a hurry to add football teams to the league. Even if they do, their primary focus will always be on how it will affect their TV exposure later on and if their TV contracts will receive a positive impact of the decision. In truth, this is one of the wisest choices a team can make because of the ongoing pandemic and its various restrictions which has highlighted the importance of television entertainment for sports.
While many say that the Big 12’s future seems bleak, there are still many that are optimistic with hope and think that the Big 12 just might have a vibrant future after all if they play their cards right. The athletic director of Bayler, one of the most integral teams in the Big 12 right now, Mack Rhoades stated that the remaining teams are going to be together on all levels and cooperate with each other with commitment.
He goes on to say that they are spending time right now really focused and working on what that pathway is or what those couple pathways are that can lead the Big 12 to its former glory again.