With last week’s shocking news that Oklahoma and Texas will be leaving the Big 12 to make their way to the SEC, it begs the question; “Are super-conferences good for college football?” or even, “Are super-conferences good for college athletics?”.
It’s a question that is going to be highly debated over the next few weeks, months, or even years. It will be debated before any conference realignments occur and it will be debated long afterward as well. It’s a fair question as well...
Personally, I think it’s not going to help college football or athletics but ultimately hurt them.
From a pure college football fan perspective, sure, there will be some fun schedule. Alabama vs Oklahoma, Auburn vs Oklahoma, LSU vs Oklahoma? Those are all fun matchups. So is Texas vs Georgia, Texas v Florida, and even Texas vs Tennessee is an intriguing matchup just based on each program’s respective place in college football history.
I don’t want this article to go on forever so I’ll summarize my points in a few bullets.
The parity gap and $$$:
Super-conferences won’t narrow the parity gap, it’s only going to make them larger. The idea of the playoffs to the point was to be able to expand the group of teams that had a chance of winning a national championship and the expanded playoffs, even more so. So far, the playoffs have only expanded the parity gap and it doesn’t seem like that’s going to change anytime soon.
That being said, with super-conferences, especially the SEC, the parity gap is only going to grow. The money in which the SEC will bring in by just adding Oklahoma and Texas is going to be massive, meaning more money for some already insanely rich programs. While bigger schools will continue to be able to compete against each other, the gap is going to become even bigger between your top programs and the middle of the pack. That’s going to be seen in every super-conference too not just the SEC. The parity inside each conference is going to quickly become an issue and we’re going to see the rich get richer every year.
One of the charms about college football and college athletics overall is the regionality of conferences. Yes, there have been exceptions but for the most part, it has remained regional. With that, each conference has its own unique qualities, its own style of play, culture, etc. It’s what makes college athletics so great and as we lose the regionality, some of those really unique qualities and cultures will disappear as well. It’s not the biggest thing but it will be an unfortunate consequence of super conferences.
Additionally, super-conferences would suck massively for fans. It’s already hard for fans to get to away games as conferences currently stand but in super-conferences, it will only get harder to support their teams on the road due to the time and financial requirements it would take. While the current conference formats are not exactly family-friendly, the regionality still made it a bit easier.
What happens to G5 schools?
In all these super conference scenarios, we are looking at Power Five super conferences. But what’s going to happen to Group of Five schools. You want to talk parity? There’s some parity between the bottom half of the Power Five and the Group of Five’s top teams but with super conferences, Group of Five programs may not stand a chance. They won’t nearly have the money to compete with the super conferences and their scheduling won’t give them any chance to make the College Football Playoffs, even in the expanded college football playoffs. While Power Five programs will likely continue to bring in more and more money (if the conferences go about their additions smartly), Group of Five programs will have much less room for growth. If I’m a Group of Five athletic directors, I’d be quite worried going forward. Could super conferences be the final straw in creating a Group of Five playoffs?
Where does it end?
Finally, you could say that super conferences go back to 1990 when Penn State decided to no longer be independent and join the Big 10. Now, 31-years later, we’re looking at a very, very different college football landscape. But what is the end result here? What will expansion eventually lead to? While I don’t think the expansion will go much further than 16 teams in each respective conference, I do wonder. Are we bound to see the Power Five break away from the Group of Five and create their own level of college football? Basically, relegating the entire Group of Five to also be their own level or join the ranks of the FCS. I don’t think it’s necessarily likely but I do believe that there is an avenue to where that is a possibility in the next 15-20 years.
Either way, these are just a few of my thoughts on super-conferences and that’s all they are. That being said, I want to know your opinions; Do you think super conferences will be bad for college football?