By now, you’ve probably heard all the hot takes you can stomach about the new ACC-Pac-12-Big Ten Alliance. They’re going to save college football, or ruin it, depending on your point of view. As for myself, I’m just excited to watch Wake Forest play Oregon State regularly.
After all, this new alliance amounts to a voting block against the SEC, who have verbally agreed to schedule games against one another at some point in the future. The announcement came just a couple of months after the SEC, Big 12, Notre Dame, and the Mountain West came up with a proposal for College Football Playoff expansion, and a couple of weeks after Texas and Oklahoma devastated the Big 12 by announcing they are leaving for the SEC.
This alliance is a reaction to that, which these three conferences have felt left out of talks on.
The issue is that they don’t even know what’s going on, so how is anyone else supposed to know what’s going on? ACC commissioner Jim Phillips has said that they need the Big 12, but they also excluded the Big 12 from this alliance. They talked about scheduling more out of conference games against one another, likely in an attempt to raise TV revenue, but don’t have an official agreement in place and wouldn’t be able to start for around a decade at least. They also spoke about revisiting the idea of CFP expansion, which new Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff should want but wants to be involved in the conversation about. Again, though, they didn’t give any details.
Oh, and they bragged about academics in a deal that’s centered around athletics and football revenue.
The truth is that they don’t know what they want. They still have more interest in what they’re going to do individually and the health of their own conferences. Without official agreements in place, nothing has happened. It’s an attempt to scare the SEC into backing down, which it won’t, and possibly try and offer more influence than them.
In all of this, however, has been a fear for what it means for a conference like the American Athletic Conference and the Group of Five as a whole. So, let’s take a look at it through the eyes of the AAC, who is currently in the process of trying to push into the world of the autonomous conferences, possibly even replacing the Big 12.
The number one fear that AAC teams and fans should have in regards to the ACC-Pac-12-Big Ten Alliance is that it delays College Football Playoff expansion. It won’t stop the expansion from coming, but with pushback from major conferences, it definitely won’t be happening before the end of the current contract, after 2026. This, of course, is going to be later than what many people were hoping for but is also not unreasonable.
A bit more concerning would be an attempt by the alliance to reshape the design of the expanded playoff. Could they look to remove any opportunity for G5 teams, giving schools like Oregon and Penn State more opportunities? Will they insist on eight teams, again resulting in fewer spots for potential G5 teams?
Well, no one knows because the alliance doesn’t know what they want, and has no formal agreement. So, for now, it’s all speculation. It’s all guesswork.
Other people might be concerned that if they schedule more games internally, then there will be fewer opportunities to play good out of conference games for AAC teams. This, of course, is a prerequisite to making the current College Football Playoff if you’re not in the Power Five and is why Cincinnati supposedly has a real shot in 2021.
Clearly, there is some room for tentative concern, but there really shouldn’t be. Deals are in place for years, often more than a decade down the road. If this ACC-Pac-12-Big Ten Alliance is going to start scheduling itself, then they first have to come up with a contractual agreement to improve their TV revenue, and then they need to wait a decade or more. By then, who knows what the college football landscape will look like? There will be so much that has changed that this may not even matter by then.
The truth is that you can choose to be scared about this if you want, but these conferences only have a gentlemen’s agreement and their own self-interest. They have no plan. They have a crisis that they’re failing to manage. Let them panic. If you’re the AAC, take this opportunity to surpass the Big 12, consider expanding your conference’s size, and block out this outside noise. That’s all this is for the time being: noise...with possible legal penalties.
In a letter obtained by @ActionNetworkHQ, Alston case attorneys notified ACC, Big Ten & Pac-12, warning the Alliance it would be illegal to “collaborate” on “future of athlete compensation.” If so Alston attorneys “will not hesitate to seek sanctions or other relief” pic.twitter.com/69eouV8sgx— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) August 25, 2021