Lots of (opinionated) discussion on the SFN Forums about the inevitable next round of college football expansion and realignment, and more precisely, how it will affect State. So go on over there and join the fun, and it’s likely you’ll even win a $100 Walmart gift card, or maybe one of the few remaining ipads.
We already knew Texas A&M was considering SEC membership, but now Florida State is “flirting” with the SEC, and possibly others from the ACC as well. LRM writes that he is impressed Texas A&M is being proactive about its future, and adds that eventually the ACC and Big East will be forced to react in order to remain relevant to major college football.
With that in mind, here’s an interesting insight into how the conferences are viewing this (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette):
Athletic directors Steve Pederson of Pitt, Oliver Luck of West Virginia and Tim Pernetti of Rutgers have their opinion and are leading a push to expand the Big East Conference’s football membership to 12 teams. They believe the league can get a big boost in broadcast rights fees next year, largely because Comcast has bought NBC and actively is searching for college sports programming for the Versus Network, which will become NBC Sports Network.
That means there are more suitors now — and with only one major conference left without a long-term deal — the Big East — that can offer programming, the price has just gone up.
Under the current combined football/basketball TV contract that expires in 2013, Big East football members get $11 million annually, far less than the $20 to $23 million annually the Pac-12, Big Ten and SEC members get from their combined football/basketball deals. ACC members get about $14 million from their combined contract.
Big East commissioner John Marinatto said there were mixed feelings about turning down ESPN’s deal initially — and the divide was pretty much between the so-called basketball members and the football members — but the announcement of the Pac-12′s lucrative deal ($3 billion over 12 years) convinced them all it was the right move.
“The [price of programming] dramatically changed when the Pac-12 announced its deal,” Marinatto said. “And we were unanimous. There was splintering before that, but, on that day, we were unanimous ‘we’re walking away.’ College football has firmly been implanted as the No. 2 most popular sport.
Keep in mind that the commissioners are approaching this as a business. Forget “best fit” and team names; rivalries, traditions, geography, and cultures don’t matter. What matters is whether or not the revenue per school for 14 or 16 teams is greater than it is for 12. If the answer is yes, then you will see expansion, and soon.