Carpenter: Five Takeaways About The Newly-Formed College Football ‘Alliance’

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Oklahoma and Texas announced last week that they will be leaving the Big 12 for the SEC, sending shockwaves through the college football world. Since the SEC undoubtedly leads college football, the Big Ten seemingly had to do something to mount some sort of resistance to the ever growing SEC stranglehold. With the help of the Pac-12 and, more importantly, the ACC, a new college football “Alliance” has been brought into full view of the world.

What you need to know:

What the does the “Alliance” really mean?

Short of refusing to schedule games with the SEC, the three conferences had few options. Thus, the “Alliance” announcement was predictably uneventful. There was a lot of nonsense written in the press release and espoused during the press conference, but it seems that the three conferences are really just going to slow down expansion talk and try to schedule more games with each other. However, there has not been a firm commitment or timeline for scheduling such games, and everyone’s current games will be honored. Nothing else in the press release truly matters besides football, and given that football comprises the overwhelming majority of athletic revenue and most of their non-conference schedules are booked for the next 5-10 years, the only real shot would’ve been to boycott future scheduling of SEC member schools, which was never going to happen. There was no mention of an armistice between conferences with regards to poaching schools, but since the ACC is locked into their TV deal with ESPN for the next decade, that wasn’t necessary anyway. The only real question is whether anyone will pick over the carcass of the Big 12.

ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips is the keystone

Without the ACC on board, this agreement would have been an epic failure. The Big Ten and the Pac-12 have always been in lockstep (mostly because the Pac-12 has been a rudderless ship for the last five years), but that wouldn’t be enough to push back against the SEC. Phillips, a former AD at Northwestern, has Big Ten ties, and because plenty of universities in the ACC care about academics, he was able to join the other two conferences to make this work. Many ACC also don’t want to see college football become “NFL light,” which helped Phillips shift the tide.

George Kliavkoff is driving the bus

The former MGM President of Entertainment and Sports is a business-savvy man whose direct style is anything but academic. When confronted about whether a “written agreement” existed between the conferences, KIiavkoff stated that they merely have a handshake agreement between gentlemen. The other two commissioners would’ve been far more diplomatic with their answers, leaving everyone curious about the possible existence of a formal agreement. It’s a safe bet that if some legitimately innovative ideas are spawned from the Alliance, KIiavkoff will spearhead them.

Slowing down Playoff expansion

The true value in the “Alliance” exists in the block voting that will delay the expansion of the CFP. Everyone is now wary of the SEC and for that matter ESPN for their role in the OU/UT departure. The three commissioners all seemingly want to expand the Playoff, but they want to dictate the terms of who gets in, where games are played, and what the conference caps will be. However, the real battle will then begin with the open bidding process between ESPN and Fox. ESPN seemingly had the CFP wrapped up prior to the recent events, but that could change when the deal hits the open market. Don’t underestimate the impact that the partnership between Fox and both the Big Ten and Pac-12 and the partnership between ESPN and both the ACC and SEC will have throughout this process. Remember, college football is now big business and will be treated as such.

Bobby Carpenter will be providing expert analysis on college football all season long.

Written by Bobby Carpenter


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  1. How does this alliance bring new revenue to the ACC and PAC in a significant way? In a couple of years, the B1G will negotiate their new TV deal with new players including streaming services. I’ve heard crazy numbers like $100M for each B1G team. If the top teams in the ACC and PAC fall even further behind, why wouldn’t they bolt their dead end conferences and join up with the B1G anyway?

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