To counter the powerful SEC, the Big Ten, ACC and Pac-12 are forming an alliance in an attempt to regain some of the power when it comes to the future of college football.
College football follows the SEC and that’s why the Big Ten, ACC and Pac-12 are forming an alliance.
After the SEC stunned the college football world by inviting Texas and Oklahoma to the conference, beginning in 2025, other Power Five conferences are now trying to play catch-up so they aren’t caught off-guard again.
The SEC calls the shots and when they win as many national championships as the league does, they hold great power and influence. Adding Texas and Oklahoma only adds to their strength and their voice when it comes to the future of college sports.
So welcome in the Big Ten, ACC and Pac-12 alliance.
“The ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 recognize the unique environment and challenges currently facing intercollegiate athletics, and we are proud and confident in this timely and necessary alliance that brings together like-minded institutions and conferences focused on the overall educational missions of our preeminent institutions,” said ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips. “The alliance will ensure that the educational outcomes and experiences for student-athletes participating at the highest level of collegiate athletics will remain the driving factor in all decisions moving forward.”
“Student-athletes have been and will remain the focal point of the Big Ten, ACC and PAC-12 Conferences” said Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren in a release. “Today, through this alliance, we furthered our commitment to our student-athletes by prioritizing our academics and athletics value systems. We are creating opportunities for student-athletes to have elite competition and are taking the necessary steps to shape and stabilize the future of college athletics.”
“The historic alliance announced today between the Pac-12, ACC and Big Ten is grounded in a commitment to our student-athletes,” said Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff. “We believe that collaborating together we are stronger in our commitment to addressing the broad issues and opportunities facing college athletics.”
Conference schedules will be reduced
To accommodate the new games as part of the alliance, the Big Ten will reduce their conference schedule from nine to eight games. The lost game will be replaced with an ACC and Pac-12 opponent. This means the Big Ten teams would play six games within their division and two crossover opponents, down from three crossover games. The same math applies to the Pac-12 who would drop from nine to eight league games. The ACC already plays eight conference games so there won’t be a dramatic shift, they would just have a Big Ten and Pac-12 team on their schedule every year.
Any team playing Notre Dame, such as Stanford, USC or Michigan, would be able to count the Irish as an ACC school.
What about rivalry games with SEC schools?
Established rivalry games across conferences like Florida-Florida State, Clemson-South Carolina, Georgia-Georgia Tech and Louisville-Kentucky were notable cancelations last year when COVID resulted in restructured and reduced scheduled. Those rivalry games were lost, but they would not be lost with the alliance. Those games would continue. Where it gets tricky is other SEC teams trying to find marquee non-conference games since the Big Ten, ACC and Pac-12 will be locked in with their alliances. So, as an example, games like Alabama vs. Miami and LSU vs. UCLA, which play in Week 1 this year, may not be options in future years.
The cupcake games that have long been derided could be more prevalent with the SEC needing to fill their non-conference portion of their schedules. A more appealing option could be the SEC playing an additional conference game. That is the most likely outcome, especially when Texas and Oklahoma join the league, and is something Nick Saban has long desired. With annual crossover games and the division schedule, there are still a number of teams that don’t play other SEC schools with any sort of frequency or regularity. The beefed-up SEC schedule would go a long way toward ensuring every team plays at least once in a four-year period.
What does the Big Ten, ACC, Pac-12 alliance mean for the College Football Playoff?
College Football Playoff expansion is coming. We just don’t know when. But the SEC has been vocal about expansion and the Big Ten, ACC and Pac-12 should be for it as well. The case against expansion would fall in the spite category but they would be foolish to limit their access to a financial windfall by making a 12-team playoff.
According to Yahoo!, one wrinkle could involve the conferences having a bigger say in how and where the games are staged. Specifically, could the Big Ten host a playoff game in their geographic footprint?
What’s this mean for the Big 12?
The Big 12 is not invited to the big kids table. The future of the league is in question with the departures of Texas and Oklahoma. Will some of the surviving members find a home in another league? Perhaps. But none of them hold the money-making power of Texas and Oklahoma so the Big Ten, Pac-12 and ACC will be leaping at the chance to add one of them.
Is this all about money?
Yep, this is all about money. It’s college sports. It’s big business. This is designed to inspire more networks besides just ESPN as the main player in broadcasting college football and college sports. The Big 12 blamed ESPN for conspiring with Texas, Oklahoma and their move to the SEC. While ESPN is still going to be the one yielding power, the alliance is hoping FOX or another network will be able to buy their way into broadcasting the playoff.