Maybe it is not entirely accurate to call the non-SEC conferences “poor”. They are all still doing quite well for themselves. The problem is that the consolidation of conferences that is occurring now is the natural and predicted by-product of a super-powered SEC. This trend proves that all the uproar about the European Football Super League was justified. In Europe, the main argument against the Super League was that it would devastate all of the national leagues that feed into the Champions League. Given the structure of the Super League and its evergreen members, each national league, even the big ones like La Liga, Serie A, and Bundesliga, would be devalued significantly. Without ways for many teams to qualify into the Super League, performance in the national team would be rendered meaningless. Thus, the argument against the Super League was that it benefited only the super-wealthy clubs at the expense of the smaller teams across the continent.
Looking at the landscape of American college football after the move of Texas and Oklahoma, it is looking more and more like the populists were right!
Last week, the Big Ten, the Pac-12, and the ACC announced an inter-conference alliance. There are still very few details about this conference at this time. All we know is that there will be a significant “scheduling component for football and men’s and women’s basketball”. The conferences have also not committed to any dates. The aim, it seems, is to proactively wait and see how things shake out with the national college football landscape before making any real commitments. Mainly, these conferences want to show that they will not be rendered irrelevant no matter what happens. What is key about this conference alliance is that it shows that this football-motivated move is not limited to football. The Big Ten and the ACC are known for their basketball programmes, not their football programmes. The fallout has been wider than many had imagined.
As for the Big 12, the former home of the Oklahoma Sooners and the Texas Longhorns, its prospects are still not looking so promising. The eight remaining teams have yet to announce a new plan of action, whether that’s expansion or alliance with another conference. Moreover, their media rights are said to have been devalued by 50% with the departure of Texas and Oklahoma. If they choose to expand, they will have to contend with some pretty recent skeletons. Five years ago, the Big 12 was considering expansion, and they evaluated many schools during that process. In the end, they chose not to expand, apparently deciding that these other schools would not provide enough benefit. Now, they face the awkward position of reaching out to the teams that they rejected just a few years ago.
After seeing how things are shaking out in the United States, fans of European Football must be breathing sighs of relief that the backlash was strong and swift enough to nip the Super League in the bud before it had time to put down its roots.