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OPINION | WALLY HALL: Power play continues with latest moves

by Wally Hall | July 3, 2022 at 2:52 a.m.

There used to be an old saying about the opera.

No doubt it is no longer socially acceptable, but as far as college conference expansion goes, it won't be over until the SEC sings.

Last week's news that tradition-rich UCLA and Southern Cal were jumping to the Big Ten in 2024 caused a ripple across the landscape of college athletics, but when Texas and Oklahoma announced last summer that they were joining the SEC it was like a tidal wave.

It now appears realignment has just begun.

The Pac-12, now with 10 teams and no wow factor programs, will be on the hunt, regardless of what they say.

So most likely will the Big 12 and ACC.

The problem is who is out there, besides Notre Dame which has its own rich TV package, that might make a move that enhances a TV package?

Which is what this is all about and has been.

When we used to hear the term footprint, it wasn't about geography, but about business, big business.

Here's the bottom line of why Texas, Oklahoma, UCLA and USC moved:

The SEC distributed $54 million to each member this summer. The Big Ten handed out $46 million and the Big 12, Pac-12 and ACC were far behind. In fact, the Pac-12 was last in the Power 5 with payouts of $19.8 million.

The SEC has a $3 billion contract with Disney (ABC and ESPN) that starts in 2024, that was announced a few weeks before the Sooners and Longhorns filed for divorce.

So the footprint was never about the athletes and travel.

Now, UCLA and USC will be traveling 2,657 miles for soccer and volleyball games against Maryland.

With chartered planes that's about five hours each way.

Maybe the Big 10 should consider leasing War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock and having the non-revenue sports meet about halfway.

Obviously the main concern for UCLA and USC was football, which is the cash cow for most programs.

As of today, there are two conferences on solid footing, the SEC and the Big 10, and it would be unfair to say they got there by raiding other conferences.

No one could raid Texas, Oklahoma, UCLA or USC. Those schools were in this from the get-go.

Now the Pac-12 needs schools and where do they look? Probably the Big 12, which with the departure of OU and UT, added BYU, Central Florida, Houston and Cincinnati in 2023.

BYU is obviously more of a fit for playing in the Western time zone than the others, although the biggest problem facing the Pac-12 is getting its games televised when most of the country is awake.

No doubt the Pac-12 is nervous, as is the Big 12 and the ACC, which has to be concerned about losing Clemson and North Carolina.

Most likely when expansion is all said and done there will be a Power 4 instead of a Power 5.

Those four super conferences will not answer to the NCAA in football. They will run themselves and have their own college football playoff championships but leave the NCAA in place for its highly successful basketball tournament.

There will no more sharing revenue with the smaller schools or them having a vote in anything to do with the Power 4.

If the Power 4 wants 100 football scholarships, then there will be 100 football scholarships.

Something will be worked out to make it appear women's athletics is treated fairly.

The thing for now is to understand that the landscape of college athletics is a slippery slope, and it will be until the SEC sings. That may not be until it adds two or more schools to its where it just means more motto.

Print Headline: Power play continues with latest moves


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